[Penang, Malaysia] "Ban Chang Kueh" - Traditional Hokkien Peanut Pancake.

“Ban Chien Kueh”/慢煎粿 (also known as “Meen Chien Kueh”/面煎粿 in Singapore and “Dai Gao Meen”/大旧面 in Ipoh & Kuala Lumpur) is a thick, traditional Hokkien pancake, filled with crushed peanuts, sugar and margarine. A popular breakfast snack item, Penangites often pronounce it “Ban Chang Kueh”.

  1. This stall at the corner of Jalan Pasar and Solok Moulmein in Pulau Tikus, is operated by the husband-and-wife team of Mr Neoh Kooi Aun, 61, and his wife, Ooi Guat Meng, 56. He’s the third-generation hawker of “ban chean kueh”, started by his grandfather when he came to Penang from China a century ago.

  1. The thick, huge pancake is slow-cooked over charcoal embers, then sprinkled with crushed peanuts, sugar and margarine which formed its filling.

  1. One can choose from the white sugar or brown sugar versions (the brown sugar one has a deeper, mellower flavour) - each wedge costs only MYR1 or US 25 cents.

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“Ban Chang Kueh” was purportedly invented by Zuo Zongtang (1812-1885), the same Manchu Dynasty viceroy who’s commemorated in another dish, “General Tso’s chicken” in American-Chinese cuisine (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zuo_Zongtang).

Zuo Zongtang started his military career during the Taiping Rebellion in the 1850s. In Fujian, where sugarcane & peanuts are found in abundance, he asked that pancakes (which used to be savoury) be flavoured with sugar & peanuts to feed the Manchu/Qing troops. Hence, there were suggestions that instead of “Ban” (which is the Hokkien word for “slow”), it was “Man” (from “Manchu”) which should be the character used to describe “Ban Chang Kueh”. Irregardless, it does seem that “ban chang kueh” is about 160 years old, originating from Fujian, China, where most Penangites (who’re Hokkiens) descended from.

Neoh Kok Keong, 38, has now taken over the stall after his father passed away late last year. He runs the stall with his wife, as the 4th-generation of the family who started this famous 100-year-old “ban chang kueh” stall. Still the same family recipe, and still the same passion shown in cooking the pancakes.

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Not keen on peanuts but would try this thing. I like it airy.

I did stay a few days in Penang, I was a novice backpacker and eater then. Would do it again differently.

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Drop me a line when you’re in town next.

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There is another type of 𝙗𝙖𝙣 𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙜 𝙠𝙪𝙚𝙝, which is smaller and thinner than the large ones that needed to be cut up into serving portions.

These smaller, individual 𝙗𝙖𝙣 𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙜 𝙠𝙪𝙚𝙝 are often crispier, and have a more pronounced flavor due to the thinner crust enclosing the moist, butter, eggy filling. The composition of these smaller ones are similar to the large ones: wheat batter, crushed peanuts, egg and sugar.

The best-tasting small-sized 𝙗𝙖𝙣 𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙜 𝙠𝙪𝙚𝙝 I’d found in Penang was from a push-cart run by 64-year-old Tan Hooi Guan in front of Swee Kong Cafe, on the corner of Burmah Road and Moulmein Close in Pulau Tikus.

His made-to-order 𝙗𝙖𝙣 𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙜 𝙠𝙪𝙚𝙝 are egg-rich and big on flavours: generous amounts of crushed peanuts and butter burst from his plump pancakes, which are soft-bellied and moist in the middle, embroidered with lacy crisp collars.

Mr Tan only comes around 3pm each day, and sells out by 6pm.

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