A great part of Malaysia’s food culture comprises of street food that are often found at local markets. These places tend to be the hub of inter-racial mixing and as such, street food may go by several different names used interchangeably. They can be confusing to the visitor but perfectly understood by all the locals. There are some exceptions to the rule like nasi lemak and roti canai that are only known by their Malay names. This whole naming convention has as much reasoning to it as the market pidgin language.
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. These Chinese pancakes are known as apam balik by the Malays. The Cantonese people call them chin loon pau or tai kau min while the Hokkiens (Fujianese) name them Ban Jian Kuih. Even the Fujianese name has some uncertainty over its exact translation. Ban is supposed to mean Manchurian according to some sources while others claim that it is meant to describe the metal pan used to cook the cake.
Just like the cousins’ quarrel in the United States between New York and Chicago over the thickness of pizza crust, Chinese pancakes also have their partisan preference over the same. One variety has a thick spongy and chewy consistency while the other has a thin and crispy crust. I personally prefer the latter but I do know people who have grown up exclusively with the spongy variety.
When you are having fun, time flies! It is hard to believe that this is already the third installment of Nona-Nona. The first installment was about kerabu, a Nyonya or Malay salad and I made Kerabu Tang Hoon (Spicy Glass Vermicelli Salad). The second one was on sardines and Sardine Sandwiches was my choice for that post.
Today’s theme is Chinese kuih and these Ban Jian Kuih (Chinese Peanut Pancake) immediately came to mind. Although the color of the crust was not even, it still tasted really good and I am happy with the results. I think a gas stove will give a more even colored crust but I only have an electric stove. The pancakes were crispy straight out of pan but they did turn soft after a while as is the case with the ones made by the hawkers.
Part of the fun of Nona-Nona is that apart from the agreed theme, Denise and I have no idea what the other is preparing for her post. Let’s hop over to Singapore Shiok to find out which Chinese kuih Denise made.
- ½ cup (75g) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (65g) rice flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 egg, beaten, beaten
- ½ cup (120ml) coconut milk
- ½ cup (120ml) water
- 4 tbsp (56g) butter
- ¼ cup (55g) sugar
- ¾ cup (130g) blanched peanuts
- ¾ cup (190g) cream style corn
- ¾ cup (75g) grated coconut (white part only)
Place peanuts on a baking tray. Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and allow peanuts to cool. Place cooled peanuts in a food processor. Press the pulse button to coarsely chop peanuts. Do not over grind.
Sift all-purpose flour, rice flour, and baking powder into a large bowl. Add salt. Combine egg, coconut milk, and water in a small bowl. Pour onto sifted flours and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.
Melt one teaspoon of butter in an 8-inch non-stick fry pan on medium heat. Swirl melted butter around the pan. Mop up any excess with paper towel.
Pour about 1/3 cup batter into pan. Swirl pan so that batter covers the base and slightly up the sides of the pan. When batter starts to bubble, sprinkle two teaspoons of sugar followed by two tablespoons each of peanuts, cream corn, and grated coconut evenly onto batter. Dot with a teaspoon of butter and allow pancake to cook for 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown.
Using spatula, fold pancake in half. Remove. Repeat with remaining batter and filling.
These are the Ban Jian Kuihs in their natural setting. The street vendor uses eight well seasoned metal pans specially made for this purpose.
Look at the even colored crust.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day!