Did You Know: Chicken Chop Is A Malaysian Dish, Not A Western One
It may come as a surprise to some, but did you know that the chicken chop is uniquely Malaysian?
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.
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.
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.