Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Apam Balik: An Ipoh Favourite

We love Apam Balik. In Malaysia, this dish has been declared a heritage food, a national treasure. The soft and light texture of the pancake, akin to Australian crumpets, the buttery sweetness of the filling, the crunch of the peanuts… Mmm!

We often come across Apam Balik (Apong, Mun Chang Kueh, Martabak Manis, Terang Bulan, Kue Bandung… it has many, many local names), when we roam the multitudinous stalls of night markets in Malaysia. It derives its name from the folding of the cooked product. Sold in two delightful forms: a thin and crispy serving, and the fluffy pancake type, both are so delicious. However, the pancake-type gets our nod for satisfaction.

Spending much of our time in Ipoh during this visit to Malaysia, we stumbled across a stall serving a delectable version of Apam at the food-court in Taman Canning. Soft and fluffy. Sweet and crunchy. Is there any more?

The owner of the stall is an energetic, young lady from Ipoh, Sandy Ong, whose staff consists of her supportive and encouraging father, Aaron Ong. Sandy is a graduate. However, her passion has always been in cooking. For this very reason, Sandy decided to follow her passion, experimenting endlessly at home with Apam Balik batters until she achieved the style of dessert which she had sought. The next step, of course, was to open a stall.

Until yesterday, Sandy’s Apam Balik stall has been located at the little food court near Pasar Taman Canning. Working from 7 o’clock until 2pm, Sandy has built up a strong following of customers in the local area. In fact, her following has been so strong that it is best to arrive well before her nominal closing time. For example, last Sunday, we arrived at 9:30. Sandy approached us to tell us that she was on her final batch of batter! Ayo… we had already missed out three times in the past fortnight… the penalty for being too late!

For us, that will have to wait until our next Malaysia adventure…

ADDENDUM, December 2016... Sandy is no longer serving her delicious Apam Balik, a real loss for Ipoh. We wish her well in her new career. 

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden…

Friday, 15 July 2016

Late Season Mangoes of Malaysia

A most interesting sidelight to any visit to Malaysia is to taste the wondrous variety of tropical and subtropical fruits on offer. Some of the most unusual varieties are not necessarily easy to source in the more famous tourist resort areas of the nation. However, if you have the courage and inclination to venture away from the major cities, you will come across some excellent and unusual fruit varieties.

Below are some of the many tasty mango (mangga) varieties to be found by the adventurous visitor. These varieties are normally available from July onwards, towards the end of the mango season, although this may vary according to the year and season.

These mango varieties were photographed at a rest area on the National Highway near the township of Tapah. We were told that most of the fruit were grown in the vicinity of the town of Bidor. On the right is Yu Wen (a Taiwanese mango), in the centre is Mangga Raja (King Mango) and on the left is Mangga Pisang (Banana Mango). The latter is similar to Australia's TPP1 variety in colour, texture and taste. At the rear, left, is Mangga Lemak Manis (Milky Sweet Mango).

Mangga Naga (top) is similar in flavour to Australia's famous R2E2 mango. Its name means Dragon Mango. The little mangoes are Mangga Epal (Apple Mango): these are tangy-sweet and juicy little mangoes, their trees a common sight across the country. Both mango varieties were purchased at a supermarket in Klang.

These Mangga Susu (Milk Mango) might not look so inviting. However, they are fine eating. We purchased these in the Klang area. 

Chokanan is a Thai mango cultivar. However, it is widely grown throughout Malaysia. It is also available amongst the Asian communities of Sydney in February and March. These were purchased in Klang.

Our favourite late-season Malaysian mango is actually of Thai origin, but now grown in various parts of Malaysia. Mangga Lemak Manis retains its grown skin colour even when ripe. It is a deliciously sweet green-eating mango, but is, in our opinion, even more delicious when allowed to ripen naturally on the tree. As its name suggests, it has a subtle milky, sweet flavour. These fruit were purchased in Ipoh. In Thailand, it is known as Falan.

Mangga Raja is a king-sized mango and I would suggest that you share it with a friend! It is widely available and very tasty. We purchased these whoppers in Sekinchan.

Mangga Intan growing happily in Sekinchan

Purchased from a roadside stall at Sekinchan, this is Mangga Intan (Diamond Mango). We were offered a taste, and could not resist purchasing this beautiful, plump mango. My limited research would seem to indicate that this is a member of the Nam Dok Mai family of Thai mangoes.

So, while the Better Half is gorging on durian, what else can the Other Half do? Of course, gorge on mangoes...

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden…