Did You Know: Chicken Chop Is A Malaysian Dish, Not A Western One

The funny part is that chicken chop is still found in the Western food section of menus all around Malaysia.

Cover image via 衣食住行

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It may come as a surprise to some, but did you know that the chicken chop is uniquely Malaysian?

Image via Johor Kaki

Well, like many other kopitiam staples, the chicken chop was created by the Hainanese who migrated to Malaysia in the 19th century

In the early 1900s, many Chinese migrated to Southeast Asia to seek their fortunes.

While the Hokkien, Cantonese, and Teochew had already settled and dominated more lucrative industries in Malaya, such as trade, agriculture, and mining, the Hainanese ended up in hospitality.

Image via Pinterest

Many Hainanese became chefs and staff at hotels, restaurants, and bakeries, while others became domestic servants for wealthy European and Peranakan families

As such, the Hainanese became adept at Western cooking techniques.

When rent prices crashed during the Great Depression after World War II, many took the opportunity to open kopitiams and food businesses in Malaysia.

Between their cooking skills and the style they had to adopt for their British employers, these Hainanese kopitiam owners created many fusion dishes that we still see today, such as chicken chops with green peas and brown sauce, toast with butter and coconut jam, and roasted coffee sweetened with condensed milk.

Since then, chicken chops can be readily found anywhere outside of kopitiams in Malaysia, and they are no longer made only by Hainanese chefs

Many local restaurants and cafes have also since put their own spin on the classic dish.

Image via Pinterest

Besides, if you are still not convinced that chicken chop is Malaysian, think about it: No other country in the world serves the distinctive combination of breaded or grilled boneless chicken thighs with vegetables, sliced potatoes, and brown gravy. Not even in modern-day Hainan.

The closest dish would probably be the German schnitzel or chicken-fried steak in America, but even then, there are notable differences in the part of the chicken used, their toppings, and side dishes.

Many traditional kopitiams are still operating to this day:

Did you know much of what we know about Malaysia today has its roots from our colonial past? Read more about it here:

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