Ban Jian Kuih (Chinese Peanut Pancake)

Ban Jian Kuih (Chinese Peanut Pancake)

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.

Ban Jian Kuih (Chinese Peanut Pancake)

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.

Ban Jian Kuih (Chinese Peanut Pancake)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6 pancakes
  • 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)
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Pour about ⅓ 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.
  5. Using spatula, fold pancake in half. Remove. Repeat with remaining batter and filling.
  6. Serve immediately.

Ban Jian Kuih (Chinese Peanut Pancake)

These are the Ban Jian Kuihs in their natural setting. The street vendor uses eight well seasoned metal pans specially made for this purpose.

Ban Jian Kuih (Chinese Peanut Pancake)

Look at the even colored crust.

Ban Jian Kuih (Chinese Peanut Pancake)

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 😎

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  1. says

    Haha! How very true! People can get very passionate and hot under the collar about their food and especially what they grew up eating! I am one of those who only had the thick spongy variety until I was well into my twenties, then the thin, crisp pancakes beginning appearing and I would frown at them and tell hubs those were frauds LOLOL Here in Singapore, you usually find these pancakes (my family called them Japanese cakes for as long as I can remember and I still don’t know why!!!) are usually filled with peanuts or red bean though you do find variations like durian, kaya, chocolate, cheese, ham etc. I have not yet seen the Malaysian style with the peanut, coconut and corn filling though. My favourite is and always will be red bean filled ones.

    Your pics are wonderful! I especially like the one at the ban jian kueh stall with the peekaboo legs ROFL

    Glad we made it through another round intact 😉

    • Biren says

      I have never seen ban jian kuih with red bean paste but it sounds really interesting. Must be a regional thing but I know I will enjoy them as well as I do like red bean paste. In fact, I bought a bag from the cake supply shop to bring home with me. :)

      The ban jian kuih stall picture was taken near the market in Pulau Tikus, Penang. I was so delighted that I found the stall that morning as I wanted to show what kind of pans were used. I have been going round taking pictures of all the hawker food to include in future posts and maybe update old posts. Did not notice the legs until you pointed it out. 😀

      BTW, this ban jian kuih stall caters for extra toppings like bananas and eggs. I do remember the eggs but not the bananas although I did think about adding them myself.

  2. says

    Another version of appam’s; have never tried this before. Looks and sounds delicious. The hawker picture evokes similar ones from our place. :-)
    Biren, the captcha code really snags up commenting. even if the code is simple, it ends up making you do it at least 2 times.

    • Biren says

      Sorry to hear the captcha is giving you trouble. I will look into it as soon as I can. Thanks for letting me know.

  3. says

    I just came from Denise’s blog, wanted to see what you’ve been up to :-). Looks like yet another great recipe, and much simpler than my beloved roti canai, so maybe I can try this sometime soon :-). Beautiful shots too!

    • Biren says

      I have been pre-occupied lately but thanks for visiting. :) Yes, this is definitely much simpler than roti canai. Makes a really tasty snack for tea time.

  4. says

    Oooh yum, I made these once but I used too bi carb and it tatsted god awful.. will try it again 😉 Yours looks fab. hahhahaha, that is the same stall in Pulau Tikus that I bought mine from. Will def try with durian flavour.

    • Biren says

      Sometimes that happens but do give it another try. Unfortunately I do not have a gas stove but I will definitely make it again with a flat bottom pan without the rings. Hopefully the crust will have a more even color next time.

      It was great makan-makan at Pulau Tikus. One tummy cannot contain all the delicious hawker fare there.

  5. says

    I prefer the thin crispy version too, so delicious warm from the pan, it’s so easily available here I think it’s easier to just buy from the stalls…great effort on your part Biren:)

  6. says

    This is a new dish to me, but I love peanuts and I love pancakes, so I know I’ll love this! And I’ll bet the creamed corn adds a lovely flavor. Really nice – thanks.

  7. says

    I love ban jian kueh! It’s one of my favourite breakfasts growing up! Most recipes I see don’t use coconut milk, but I’m sure that adds a more delicious creamy flavour, will try that next time.

  8. says

    The look of these remind me of the quesadilla, but the ingredients and method are totally different! Since I do love quesadilla, I know I would go crazy for these. Anytime someone says “street food”, I’m there! These look fabulous and I can’t wait to give one a taste!

  9. says

    Geez….time really flies! It’s the battle of the Nona2, which I’ve been looking forward to 😉 Thanks for posting this familiar snack, which was one of my late dad’s favs. He always knew the best apam baliks in town and we always enjoyed having them fresh and warm/ sometimes still hot and crispy, accompanied with a cup of milo or horlick or nescafé or teh C. Mmmmm…yummy! I have never tried making these apam baliks and you made it look easy. So, no more excuse, eh? 😀

  10. says

    Biren, you should buy one of this metal pan when you’re back. Quite costly though. The large one is about RM100 and the medium size is about RM80 depends on the metal. The bronze one is more expensive.

    • Biren says

      The ban jian kuih pans are commercial pans made specially for the vendors. I am not sure if you can buy single ones. Try the specialty baking stores. They sell all kinds of pans, gadgets, molds, and stuff.


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