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Pasembur – A Beautiful Mess

Of Heritage, Spice, and Everything Nice

Ah, Pasembur. It is an amalgamation of various veggies, dried prawns, fried crabs, squid, and a few other ingredients, topped with a savory peanut sauce. Through the years, it has evolved from a dish sold along the streets of Gurney Drive, to a beloved and iconic dish that represents Penang’s rich history and culture.

Pasembur used to be sold by Indian Muslim hawkers on their mobile stalls back in the days. A typical Pasembur usually includes cucumber strips, mengkuang (turnip), fried fritters, fried prawns, dried prawns, boiled potatoes, and sprinkled with magical bean sprouts. To complete the dish, sweet, thick and spicy peanut gravy blankets the entire dish, giving its signature taste enjoyed by many.

To make things even more interesting, there is even a Chinese version of the dish called cheh-hoo, which means “raw fish” in Hokkien. The dish, however, does not contain any raw fish, but it does contain boiled cuttlefish, and the gravy is generally less spicy with a reddish tint. Malaysia is never short of creativity when it comes to food, am I right?
Enjoy it as a snack, or as a complete meal, this dish is one versatile piece of culinary ingenuity that has stood against the test of time!

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