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A MasterChef Judge Said Chicken Rendang Should Have Crispy Skin And Malaysians Are Not Happy

MasterChef UK is getting dragged on Twitter over a judge's decision about a classic Malaysian-Indonesian dish.

Last updated on April 3, 2018, at 5:22 p.m. ET

Posted on April 3, 2018, at 10:20 a.m. ET

A controversial decision by a British cooking show judge about a classic Malaysian-Indonesian chicken dish has incensed food-loving Malaysian Twitter.

Zaleha Kadir Olpin
BBC iPlayer

Zaleha Kadir Olpin

Basically this is what happened. MasterChef UK contestant Zaleha Kadir Olpin cooked nasi lemak — a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk that is considered by many to be the Malaysian national dish — for the judges, with a spicy dish called chicken rendang that is extremely popular in both Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as Singapore and Brunei.

Zaleha, who grew up in Malaysia and has been eating the dish since she was a child, was then eliminated from the show after one of the judges, Gregg Wallace, complained the chicken skin wasn't crispy.

Gregg Wallace
BBC iPlayer

Gregg Wallace

The problem? Rendang is not supposed to be crispy. It's made from stewing meat in spices and coconut milk until it's so tender it falls apart.

Zaleha's chicken rendang.
BBC iPlayer

Zaleha's chicken rendang.

Malaysians were not happy.

As a Malaysian for the pass 22 years, for the first time i heard chicken rendang's chicken must have a crispy skin. Who the f in the world eat their rendang with crispy skin. @GreggAWallace @JohnTorode1

Lets talk abt nasi lemak. Hello chef, i never heard people request "i want crispy chicken rendang". Rendang is all abt how tender the chicken is with spicy and sweetness flavour together. Eh aku tampo chef ni pegi balik kang apah tak dapat. Go eat kfc if you wanna crispy taste 🙄 https://t.co/t2E2ZxYYZv

@saysdotcom Chicken Rendang is a classic Malaysian dish, it’s very special. How could u asked someone to prepare it differnetly jz cuz u like a crispy chicken & sauce placed seperately? Respect the dish! It’s culture @JohnTorode1 @GreggAWallace @MasterChefUK

Some saw colonial overtones.

@bingregory When the rendang is crispy

Others pointed to KFC.

“Chicken Rendang mana ada crispy” KFC: say no more

Malaysia's foreign minister wrote a glass-half-full Facebook post about the affair, commenting that at least Zaleha had united Malaysians across the political spectrum ahead of the country's elections this year over the issue of "whitesplaining" chicken rendang.

Facebook: anifaha1

Even Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak got involved, tweeting, "Who eats chicken rendang 'crispy'?"

Mana ada orang makan rendang ayam 'crispy'? #MalaysianFood

Malaysia's long-serving fourth prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, tweeted another KFC joke.

Maybe you are confusing rendang chicken with KFC 🤔 https://t.co/yjsw0CeFtR

The British High Commissioner to Malaysia also waded into the fray — and ruffled some feathers by claiming that rendang belonged to Malaysia, not Indonesia.

. @MasterChefUK @JohnTorode1 & @GregAWallace #Rendang is an iconic #Malaysian national dish not to be confused with Indonesian options It can be #chicken #lamb or #beef It is never #crispy & should also not be confused with the #friedchicken sometimes served with #nasilemak https://t.co/3sCBsgiwgQ

Rendang was a contentious issue before this — Indonesians and Malaysians have a long history of arguing over which country the dish, which is also often made with beef, actually comes from. But miraculously, the MasterChef decision appears to have brought on a temporary cessation of hostilities.

@JohnTorode1 Maybe regardless of origin, no rendang is cooked crispy or with the sauce on the side. You are more than welcome to visit 🇲🇾 🇮🇩 🇸🇬 🇧🇳 🇹🇭 to sample some chicken and beef rendang. Bring your friend @GreggAWallace too! ❤️

I hope both Malaysians and Indonesians would rise together against this crispy chicken rendang blasphemy. 🇲🇾🇮🇩

John Torode, another MasterChef UK judge, didn't do himself any favors when he gleefully commented on "how excited you all are getting" and even threw in a "namaste" for good measure because...Asia?

Maybe Rendang is Indonesian !! Love this !! Brilliant how excited you are all getting .. Namaste 🙏🏻 https://t.co/CThRmhaEAc

Wallace is yet to comment on Twitter.

Amid the furor, Zaleha posted on Instagram, "I stand by my traditional way of cooking Nasi Lemak. Will not change it for the world."

Instagram: @z

In a statement, a MasterChef spokesperson defended Gregg's statement, saying the judges' comments were relevant to the dish. “Gregg wasn’t suggesting that the dish should traditionally have crispy skin - he was saying that he couldn’t experience the flavors of the dish as it was presented," the spokesperson said.

"Zaleha left the competition not because the chicken skin wasn’t crispy, she went out because the other cooks were better," the spokesperson added.

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