Ask any foodie and they’ll tell you just how irresistible daging salai is. But the dish is just as elusive as it is delicious. The smoked beef, often cooked in a spicy coconut curry, isn’t easily found in stalls around Singapore, let alone Malaysia. Bur procuring it is well worth the effort – we promise. If you wanted some of the best, most authentic examples of daging salai the next time you visit Malaysia, hit up these places.
What is daging salai?
Daging salai, or smoked beef, is a speciality that was originally created in the state of Negeri Sembilan in West Malaysia.
Because beef was too expensive to eat often, the people in the state would only slaughter a cow during Eid or for weddings. The slaughter had to be done a few days before the occasion, but it would’ve been impossible to keep raw meat for so long in such a hot country, especially since refrigerators weren’t a thing back then. To preserve the meat, they cooked it in advance, using coconut shells and husks that were readily available. Being high in liquid content, the coconut produced a lot more smoke than using regular wood did, and it imparted a smoky, rich flavour to the meat meat. It was so tasty, that the happy mistake caught on to become a staple on its own, which was sliced to eat as is, or for use in curries.
Today, the process of making daging salai in Malaysia is still as traditional as it was before. Carefully smoked using a unique smoking technique with coconut fibre called “sabak”, the charred beef slices acquire a full-bodied flavour. With a sweet and smoky tang, the beef is tasty when eaten on its own, but is best served with a plate of rice and sambal belacan – or for a match made in heaven, braised in masak lemak cili api, which is a rich creamy coconut curry that perfectly balances the flavours of the beef.
While you can create it from scratch at home, the process is painstakingly tedious and let’s face it – you just want to enjoy the dish without your patience being tested. These best establishments serving daging salai in Malaysia’s KL, Selangor, and even JB will save you the trouble.
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6 best places in Malaysia for the best daging salai (smoked beef) today:
Although well-known for its Daging Salai Masak Lemak Cili Api dish, these Selangor eatery is also loved for its take on the heritage dish with other meats, such as duck and chicken. Patrons love the simple but satisfying combination of salted eggs and sambal belacan here. Word of caution though: Only try it if you can handle the heat.
(Image credit: @syah_eats/Instagram)
No 25, Jalan Plumbum V 7/V, Seksyen 7 Shah Alam, 40000 Selangor , Malaysia
Neatly packed and almost ready to eat, all you have to do is to prepare your own Masak Lemak Cili Api, prior to adding Daging Salai Cik Yah’s signature. That’s not all of course – other specialties such as ayam kampung, itik and ikan keli salai are also available.
(Image credit: @yatiekitchen/Instagram)
Kampung Gombak, 47000 Rawang, Selangor, Malaysia
+60 12-922 2423
Apart from the go-to Masak Lemak Cili Api, these finger-licking-good beef slices from Daging Salai Haji Soid is known to be one of the best in Malaysia, and can also be used in pasta and fried noodles. Now all you have to do is get creative in the kitchen.
(Image credit: @dagingsalai_hajisoid/Instagram)
99, Lorong Sekilau 11, Kampung Bukit Sekilau, 25200 Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia
+60 19-993 5947
If you were looking to whip up a quick meal at home, order the daging salai, and masak lemak cili api paste from Daging Salai Padu Teruk, which is known for offering some of the finest smoked beef in Malaysia.
(Image credit: @dagingsalaipaduteruk/Instagram)
If you were only planning a quick trip to JB from Singapore, we’ve got you covered. Salai Valley in Johor Bahru prides itself on serving authentic Negeri Sembilan food, so it’s no surprise that daging salai is one of its specialties here. The tender slices are served braised in a rich curry here, which is known to be spicy so come mentally prepared. Those who can’t take the heat can opt for the Nasi Goreng Daging Salai instead.
(Image credit: @salaivalley/Instagram)
43, Jln Perjiranan 4/4, Bandar Dato Onn, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
+60 12-312 8770
Daging Salai Kak Ngah caters to those who are looking for effortless recipes. Enjoy it with the ready-made masak lemak cili api paste, or toss it into salads, roll it into wraps or have it sandwiched between your favourite bread for a quick, hearty meal.
(Image credit: @daging_salai_kakngah/Instagram)
Rumah Kedai, 40, Jalan Pasar Baru, Kampung Bahasa Kapor, 71000 Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia
+60 16-663 8575
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