Malay street food : Pai tee (top hats)

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Pai tee are a Perankan dish, popular in Melaka. They are similar to popiah, in that they use the same ingredients and many places that sell one will also stock the other.

 

Vegetables in pastry cups

Vegetables in pastry cups

A lot of places in Melaka will refer to them as top hats, due to their shape – an upside down top hat, made from a pastry casing is filled -with some precision as they are one bite wonders- with a blend of sliced Jicama (a turnip like vegetable also known in Malaysia as sengkuang) julienne cucumber, slithers of omelette and a sweet drizzle make pai tee proof that good things can come in small packages! The flavours work to create a fresh, sweet and tart flavour combination– they are not a meal in their own right, but add a nice crunchy texture to enjoy in addition to a main meal, and were a delicious addition for us to laksa lemak or mee siam.
Expect to pay less than five ringgits.

Satu – One
Dua – Two
Hello  – Hello
Apa kabar – are you well/ how are you?
salamat pagi – good morning
Salamt tingal – goodbye
sila (see luh) – please
Terima kasih –  Thank you
berapa harga – how much?
tidak pedas – no chilli
bungkus – Take away
Tidak – No
Ya – yes
Maaf – sorry

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Malay street food : Curry laksa (curried chicken noodle soup)

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Laksa, the soup of the gods.

I’ve previously written about asam laksa and how depending on where you are in Malaysia, the word ‘laksa’ means different things – in Kuala Lumpur, for example just asking for laksa will get you a curry soup, but if you asked for the same in Pinang, you would get an asam laksa.

Curry laksa is characterised by its thick, rich, spicy curry soup broth. The soup is created by mixing worm-like laksa noodles, beansprouts (known as taugeh, in Malaysia) with the unctuous, coconut milk heavy chicken curry which will have been bubbling away and developing flavour for many hours before you sit down for lunch. The curry base showcases chicken on the bone and blood cockles; a rich shellfish which actually contains haemoglobin and has a strong taste. They are quite different from the pickled cockles available from European fishmongers.

Penangs version, curry mee will usually have a thinner vermicelli type noodle called bee hoon, or rice vermicelli.

For some reason, I never took pictures of Curry laksa, so thanks to Mylifestory & LWYang via creative commons licensing. 

Additionally, boiled egg, prawn and bean curd or tofu puffs are added with one last chilli kick added  – a spoonful of fresh sambal is thrown in for good measure.

Curry laksa is the sort of big, bold dinner that includes huge flavours of Malaysia and also the sort of hearty concoction you wished you could get hold of on a cold winters afternoon back in Europe. It’s soup and curry all in one!

Satu – One
Dua – Two
Tiga – Three
Hello  – Hello
Apa kabar – are you well/ how are you?
salamat pagi – good morning
Salamt tingal – goodbye
sila (see luh) – please
Terima kasih –  Thank you
berapa harga – how much?
tidak pedas – no chilli
bungkus – Take away
Tidak – No
Ya – yes
Maaf – sorry

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Malay street food : Kaya puffs & white coffee, Ipoh.

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We previously got acquainted with kaya in Singapore, eating kaya toast for breakfast and we have to say, were pleased to find it in abundance in Ipoh.

Ipoh, in general did everything it could to help increase our waistlines and we really enjoyed the food experiences here.

Kaya, as we’ve previously posted is a kind of coconut spread, which is thickened and emulsified with egg to give it a more custardy texture. It’s gloopy and creamy and pretty indulgent. The lady half can’t get enough of it and I’m quite pleased when I hear her kaya squeal, too.

six bites of joy

six bites of joy

The puff is a really quite a decadent little treat, the pastry is buttery and sweet, but with plenty of flake and a golden eggwash. The Kaya paste filling is rich, thick and creamy, not too sweet but enough so, to know you’re contented after chomping through one.
The sweet snack is famous in Ipoh, perhaps even revered and bakers are craftsmen – one local and well known shop continues to make them by hand every day the same way they have for over fifty years.

The perfect mid-afternoon treat for us, was a kaya puff and a Ipoh white coffee. In Ipoh, they  make their coffee slightly differently; by roasting the beans in a palm oil margarine and serving (like most of Malaysia) with condensed milk. The resulting taste is a bit lighter on the palate and a bit perhaps a bit nutty? It’s one of those things where you know it’s different but you can’t quite work out how.
From reading online it seems coffee in other parts of Malaysia is roasted with caramel and wheat whereas in Ipoh style no additional sugars are added.

Pastry is seemingly everywhere in Ipoh’s Chinatown, it’s really quite hard not to find kaya puffs or mooncakes & lor por peng, known as wife biscuits and at around one ringgit a piece,  Kaya puffs are fast becoming favourites.

Phrases worth knowing 

Satu – One
Dua – Two
Tiga – Three
Hello  – Hello
Apa kabar – are you well/ how are you?
salamat pagi – good morning
Salamt tingal – goodbye
sila (see luh) – please
Terima kasih –  Thank you (people will often respond with ‘sama sama’ which means’ you’re welcome)
berapa harga – how much?
tidak pedas – no chilli
bungkus – Take away
Tidak – No
Ya – yes
Maaf – sorry

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Malay street food : Chee cheong fun (rice noodle roll with chilli)

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Street cart food is often about simplicity, getting a combination of a few ingredients and maximising their potential or pairing to create good tastes, textures and flavours.

‘Ipoh style’ Chee cheong fun is a prime example of delicious simplicity. The locals attribute the quality of their noodles, and also the local delicacy tauge (beansprouts) to the hard water of the area due to large amounts of limestone. Another local dish, which uses the local noodles is kai see hor fun.

Chee cheong fun, the literal translation I’ve read is pig intestine noodles, not the most attractive thing to want to eat, but no offal was harmed in the making of this dinner. I can only imagine it refers to the length and slipperiness of the noodles. Delicious, right?

Ipoh chee cheong fun

I referred to it as ‘Ipoh style’ previously, as like many dishes in Malaysia it’s made differently in different states. Ipohians are keen on a simple chee cheong fun which consists of the silky, slippery flat rice noodles, served up with a sauce, or dressing or sesame and chilli oil and garnished with crispy fried shallots and sesame seeds.

That’s it.

Pinang (or Penang) style chee cheong fun differs in both taste and appearance. In Ipoh, the fun, or noodle has a conventional, tagliatelle-like appearance, whereas in Penang the sheets of fun are rolled up, almost like a swiss roll and cut into bitsize pieces and served with a sweet prawn paste, as well as sesame seeds.

Penang style chee cheong fun

Ipoh is an interesting city often overlooked on the backpacker trail, many of whom skip it in favour of heading straight from KL to Penang & Langkawi. It’s got some interesting architecture, history and food. Moreover, it’s doesn’t seem in the slightest bit interested in tourism so its pleasing to observe and enjoy a city without the trendification, and gentrified historical areas ( I’m looking at you, Melaka) that can become a bit too accessible, too focused on tourism and perhaps even descend into a parody of it’s former, potentially interesting self.

Phrases worth knowing 

Satu – One
Dua – Two
Tiga – Three
Hello  – Hello
Apa kabar – are you well/ how are you?
salamat pagi – good morning
Salamt tingal – goodbye
sila (see luh) – please
Terima kasih –  Thank you (people will often respond with ‘sama sama’ which means’ you’re welcome)
berapa harga – how much?
tidak pedas – no chilli
bungkus – Take away
Tidak – No
Ya – yes
Maaf – sorry

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