Thursday, 1 May 2014

Wet Market (Bak Chang) @ Pandan Indah

The Wet Market @ Pandan Indah is where I will go to buy my perishables if I decide to cook.  The wet market these days are quite unlike those of yesteryears.  First of all, they are no longer....wet or smelly.....anymore.  Although I do patronise supermarkets (just like everyone else) in this day and age, I find that certain foodstuffs (especially fish, chicken and pork) are fresher (and cheaper, but more importantly fresher) if you buy them from the wet market.

So, when I'm at the market to buy my fresh produce, I would also pack my breakfast whilst I'm there and, over time, I've come to realise that there are quite a lot of good eats in the market and I would like to share the better ones with you.

First up, "Chung" or "Bak Chang" (glutinous rice dumplings) are one of my most favourite things to eat.  They are wrapped in bamboo leaves, stuffed with different fillings, and boiled.  It is made and eaten a lot during the "Chung" Festival which occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month of the traditional Chinese calendar (info from Wikipedia).  [#Translation: I don't know when but it's usually around the month of June of the calendar I know].

This glutinous rice (or sticky rice) dumpling @ RM5 each is really excellent, and one of the best I've eaten.  The glutinous rice dumpling contains pork meat, salted egg yolk, Chinese dried mushroom, "foong lut" (chestnut) and either "mei tau" (black eyed peas, not the American singing group, ya!) or "lok tau" (I think they are called split green beans or mung beans in English).

This is the one with mei tau.   The glutinous rice has been boiled till very soft and pork meat is quite lean (with a little fat only which is necessary to keep the chung moist)...just perfect!

And this is the one with lok tau, which I prefer, though it took me a while to figure out the beans as well as remember their names in Chinese.  [#Hint: Just remember "lok" (6 in Chinese) and "tau" (beans in Chinese).]

And again, this is how the inside looked.  The chung is not too oily or salty and the glutinous rice is always soft.  Her chung is my favourite one todate.  The other really good chung I've eaten is from the Pandan Perdana wet market.

For those who can't eat glutinous rice (for health reasons), fret not, as she also makes her chung with brown or Japanese rice (she gets a lot of orders for the brown rice option from her 'elderly' customers).  I recently tasted the one made with brown rice and it was quite good (which was a surprise) though it's not as moist and soft like the glutinous rice version (but alas, we can't have everything, right?)  Well, at least we know there's a healthier option (in case we need one)!

Other than bak chang, she also sells all types of simple noodles (not very good though).  Her stall is located at the back (last row) of the market and she starts selling the dumplings about 2 months before the Rice Dumpling Festival (usually on Mondays & Saturdays).

The "woon chai koh" (steamed rice flour cake) @ RM1.30 is another hit!  Again, this is one of the best I've had.  What makes it so good is the topping made from dry-frying the "choy poh" (preserved radish) with soy sauce, minced garlic and (maybe) dried prawns.  This preserved radish mix is one of the tastiest I've encountered so far.

But what makes it different from other woon chai koh and took it 'over the edge' for me is the addition of a sprinkle of some golden crispy stuff (don't know what it's made of) that gave it another dimension and texture....truly delicious.  And, trust me, one is never enough, gotta have two!

The steamed "chee cheong fun" (rice noodle) roll @ RM1.30 is a cross between the filling you find in a popiah (shredded Chinese turnip cooked until soft) wrapped in a thin sheet of chee cheong fun.  [#Note: If chee cheong fun 'mated' with popiah, this would be their 'offspring'...hehe!]  This was (again) sprinkled with the same crispy bits as the woon chai koh.

The woon chai koh and steamed chee cheong fun is sold by the same stall in the market.  However, getting to eat this is quite a challenge (or depending on how lucky you are) as her days are not fixed.  She opens her stall as and when she likes (though she says she's there 2 days a week) but I don't remember seeing her very often.  If you want to try, I think your best hope would be from Tuesdays to Thursdays though she's usually there on the 1st and 15th day of each month of the Chinese calendar (you'll find her selling vegetarian dishes on these 2 days).  On other days, if you're lucky, you'll bump into her.  [#Tip: Her stall is around the centre of the market (next to an Indian stall).]

Another breakfast stall I patronise is the Kampar chee cheong fun @ RM1.40 a sheet.  This type of chee cheong fun is steamed with bits of dried shrimps and Chinese chives and is normally served with sweet red sauce, curry, chilli sauce and pickled green chillies.  Although the chee cheong fun is reasonably tasting, the sauces didn't cut it for me but I still eat it because it's conveniently located in my neighbourhood market (her stall is on the last row and you'll find her on Mondays and Thursdays).  [#Tip: There's one from the Pandan Perdana wet market which tastes way better.]

Yet another worthy eat is the Nasi Lemak Stall (last row of the market).  There are a few nasi lemak stalls here but the one I'm talking about is the biggest stall (they are the only ones with tables and chairs set up).  The best thing is their nasi lemak "ayam rendang" @ RM4.50 which is chicken cooked in thick chilli paste with "santan" (coconut milk).  If you like your ayam rendang super tender and falling off the bone (like me), this is it!  The spices in the rendang gravy is just spot on...simply "sedap" (delicious)!

This is the only stall that opens for dinner as well and you can get some freshly fried "ayam berempah" (chicken marinated with spices), other than the ayam rendang, together with other "lauk" choices.

My Personal Opinion

Sometimes, when you least expect it, you 'bump' into some good food in the most unlikely places....and the Pandan Indah morning market is one of them!  If you commute by LRT, this would be a good place to pack your morning breakfast.

The chung and woon chai koh is a 'must-try' if you happen to be at this market (and lucky enough to find them open).  The ayam rendang is also good.

Pandan Indah Wet Market
@ Pandan Indah LRT station

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