Indonesians and Malaysians unite to roast Masterchef UK judges over rendang ignorance

Padangnese beef rendang.
Padangnese beef rendang.

Who would have guessed that the one thing that would finally unite Indonesians and Malaysians is the same dish that has divided the two country’s citizens for so long in the first place?

Indonesian and Malaysian netizens have seemingly put aside the long-fought argument over where rendang (meat, usually beef or chicken, slowly stewed over low heat in coconut milk and numerous spices) originated from in order to agree on an even more important matter: those judges on Masterchef UK don’t have a ren-dang clue about the two nations’ treasured dish.

In case you haven’t been following the culinary controversy of the day, a Malaysian native was eliminated in the latest episode of the famous BBC cooking competition after she served judges her chicken rendang dish. One judge, Gregg Wallace, riled up rendang aficionados everywhere when he said, “I like the rendang flavor, there’s a coconut sweetness, however, the chicken skin isn’t crispy. It can’t be eaten and all the sauce is on the skin, I can’t eat.”

To be fair, we can’t expect all professional chefs from the west to be familiar with authentic rendang, never mind that it’s been ranked the most delicious dish in the world.

But despite the furore the crispy chicken rendang comment caused, the judges haven’t owned up to their mistakes. Co-judge John Torode even posted this tweet (now deleted), introducing another element of racism into the controversy because apparently Indonesians and Malaysians are the same as Indians who say “namaste”:

That then prompted Indonesian and Malaysian netizens to flood the Twittersphere with replies defending their traditions and cuisine against cultural ignorance, standing in solidarity in the name of rendang.

Isn’t harmony between neighbors beautiful? Just don’t bring up that dreaded question of which country gets to claim rendang as their national dish and we can all agree that everyone can have their own iterations for it (we’re no professional television cooking competition judges, but personally we think chicken rendang, crispy skin or otherwise, is an abomination; Padangnese beef rendang that’s slow cooked for at least several hours, or even a couple of days, until it’s dark and dry is obviously the far superior version).

Subscribe to the WTF is Up in Southeast Asia + Hong Kong podcast to get our take on the top trending news and pop culture from the region every Thursday!

Reader Interactions

Leave A Reply


Support local news and join a community of like-minded
“Coconauts” across Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.

Join Now
Coconuts TV
Our latest and greatest original videos
Subscribe on