Pasar Malam: suburbs, Malaysia
So this is kind of the biggest hodgepodge of foods and fruits that you will see only because this is literally where you can get this sort of mashup. These pictures were taken at a pasar malam. To sum it up, it’s basically a night market with fruits, vegetables, meats, lots of food (already cooked and ready to be bought and eaten!), as well as some various items like batteries, clothes, and home goods. I don’t know if there is a pasar malam in Kuala Lumpur as I always go to the one in Klang when I’m visiting my aunt. I want to say while this is a local thing, it’s also more of a suburb thing as well.
One of the dishes that I really like to get is called popiah. It’s not really chinese, but it’s not really malay, but it’s definitely a local spring roll, NOT an egg roll. The wrapper is quite unique as it isn’t as stretchy or thin as the vietnamese spring rolls. Inside consists of lettuce as well as jicama – this is the main constituent of the dish. Some places also add carrots and meat as well. The vegetables are all cooked, and it is simply just wrapped and sliced to serve with sauce as well.
You can also get fresh coconut water at the pasar malam. This is also another favorite of mine, not so much that you can’t get it in the United States but mostly because it is so cheap in Malaysia, and the guy literally takes about 30-45 seconds to whack it open and to scoop out the meat whereas I take about 4-5 minutes including making somewhat of a mess.
Fruits at the pasar malam are probably the freshest that you can get. The good thing is that you get to pick and barter for how much you want to pay for something which is always a nice bonus. Vegetables are also quite cheap as well. There are certain things that are just bigger and nicer in Malaysia, like petai. These are a certain type of bean that actually (and I kid you not) are good for kidneys. My grandmother had to be placed on dialysis due to injury from a medication overdose (the prescription was too high, thanks Malaysia docs). However, after about two to three weeks of drinking petai water and eating petai stirfry, she was able to come off of dialysis. However, this was when my mum was visiting and sadly, she passed because once my mum left, her caretakers could not be bothered to keep up the routine even though this sort of vegetable is pretty much “in their backyard”. Not to mention, it is CHEAP. One bundle was only about 4 Malaysian ringgit.
I also learned this past visit that there are different kinds of pasar malams. For example, there is a Malay (not to be confused with Malaysian, which denotes nationality and not race) pasar malam. There the foods tend to be more spicy, and almost all the foods there are literally fried. Fried in malay is called “goreng”, so you will walk down the path of a Malay pasar malam and see “bee hoon goreng” (fried thin rice noodles) or “nasi goreng” (fried rice) or “kuey tiao goreng” (fried flat rice noodles). There are also a lot more curry dishes I noted too. This was where we bought satay: or charcoal bbq skewers of meat served with a peanut sauce and white rice cakes along with chunks of cucumber. It’s terribly tasty because of the charcoal. Something about all those carcinogens just makes the meat taste so much better!
Most of these pasar malams also have “kueh” or local types of cakes and sweet goods. Ang Ku Kueh are these brightly colored pieces of “cake” that consists of mochi on the outside and inside has various fillings like yam paste, peanut and sugar, coconut and sugar, lotus paste, etc. It’s super yummy to eat. Another thing I found is this steamed coconut dish. I’m not really sure if it’s dried coconut or just ground coconut, but they scoop it into a bamboo rod and steam it. Then they pound it out and you eat it when it’s somewhat cooled but still warm.
Last but not least, my favorite kind of sweet treat: the peanut pancake! I believe this is malay, but they essentially make a crispy crepe and they put ground peanut powder and sugar on the inside and then fold it like a taco! There is a thin version which is the crispy version, and then there is the thicker version which is more like a Belgian waffle version. Both are good, but I like thin and crispy things more. It’s like a peanut taco!
Thank you all for stopping by or for coming back as consistent readers. This new life in Baltimore is pretty crazy, but as soon as I finish this series, we’ll be moving on to my Baltimore adventures. Cheers!