Apam Balik: The Popular Traditional Pancake Sold All Over Malaysia
Apam Balik (or Apom Balik), a beloved traditional pancake, has captured the hearts and palates of Malaysians and Southeast Asians alike. Originating from Fujian, China, this pancake has found its way into the bustling streets and markets of Malaysia, becoming a popular treat cherished by locals and visitors alike. The name “Apam Balik” stems from the combination of “appam/apong,” a South Indian pancake with a similar appearance, and “balik,” meaning “turn/come back” in Bahasa Malaysia, signifying its signature folded presentation.
Apam Balik is typically made on a brass pan, creating a delectable combination of textures and flavors. The pancake is folded back onto itself, creating a delightful pocket that encases a medley of fillings. The classic fillings include crushed peanuts, creamed corn, sugar, chocolate sprinkles, or butter. Each bite offers a harmonious blend of sweetness and richness, making it an irresistible treat for pancake enthusiasts.
In Malaysia, Apam Balik can be found in two main variations: thick and thin. The thick version, often sold by Chinese vendors, boasts a fluffy interior with a slightly crispy edge. On the other hand, the thin version, commonly sold by Malay vendors, offers a crunchy texture throughout, with a touch of chewiness at its center. These variations add diversity to the culinary landscape, ensuring that there is an Apam Balik to suit every preference. Moreover, Apam Balik goes by different names in various regions, such as Ban Jian Kuih, Min Jiang Kueh, Chin Loong Pau, Martabak Manis, Terang Bulan, Apam Pinang, and Kue Leker, further showcasing its wide popularity and cultural significance.
Legend has it that the creation of Apam Balik can be traced back to General Tso, a renowned Chinese military leader from the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. During his campaign in Fujian, he sought to ensure his army’s diet would not disrupt the lives of the local population. As a result, he invented a special flatbread using locally available ingredients such as sugar cane and peanuts. This unique recipe quickly spread across Southeast China and was later introduced to Malaysia by Chinese immigrants from Fujian.
Creating Apam Balik is a relatively simple process, involving a batter made from flour, egg, bi-carb, coconut milk, and sugar. Its quick preparation and cooking time make it a favourite among local vendors, allowing them to serve freshly cooked pancakes to order, ensuring their warmth and freshness.
Apam Balik can be easily found at roadside stalls, morning markets, and night markets, where its tantalizing aroma wafts through the air, drawing in passersby. Over time, the popularity of Apam Balik has led to the creation of an array of unique flavours designed to stand out and attract a wider variety of customers. Now, in addition to the classic fillings, one can indulge in varieties such as Oreo, Nutella, durian, banana, and cheese, further expanding the possibilities and enticing adventurous taste buds.
So, the next time you find yourself strolling through the vibrant streets of Malaysia, be sure to treat yourself to an Apam Balik.