One of the best things about living in Malaysia is you never grow hungry with the huge selection of food we get throughout the day and night. Food is also priced reasonably so it does not burn a hole in your pocket.
Recently we were at Section 17, Petaling Jaya for dinner and we stumbled upon this crispy peanut pancake maker. Section 17 has quite a few roadside stalls that sell reasonably priced food as it's still known as a student hangout. University of Malaya is nearby so quite a number of the students rent houses around this area. Even the morning market is said to sell the cheapest produce in Petaling Jaya.
This crispy peanut pancake is known as Apam Balik in Malay or Ban Chean Koay/Ban Jian Kway in Hokkien which means "a slow, take a long time to cook cake". One can trace these pancakes back to pre-World War II days where they were cooked over a charcoal stove. There are two kinds of this pancake, the crispy and soft kind. The soft kind is usually cooked in a bigger cast iron pan (about 24 inches) and sprinkled with peanuts in the middle. It takes a while to cook it and once it is ready, it is folded into half and cut into smaller slices to be sold.
The crispy kind is usually made in smaller pans (about six inches). The batter is ladled into the pan and spread thinly and evenly. Then it is sprinkled with a sugar and crushed peanut topping. The Malay Apam Balik version usually adds a dollop of creamed corn in the middle. The chinese version is usually plain peanut and sugar topping. In Penang, there are some roadside stalls that even offer a wider variety of toppings that range from savoury grated cheese, ham and sausage or sweet grated coconut, peanut butter and banana. The Penangites call it Aki Pancake after the name of the stall whose owner's name is Ah Kee.
Once the pancake is ready, they will scrape the sides with a knife and then fold it quickly before it hardens.
The pancake is then placed in these racks ready for customers to buy them. It is best eaten piping hot from the pan so you get to savour the crispy pancake and the warm insides.