Pisang Goreng

As I got nearer, I could smell the aroma wafting from the boiling oil. I was on my way home. I stopped my bicycle right in front of the cart where the pleasant smell emanated from. The cart strategically occupied a spot under a tree at the spacious car park outside the teachers’ training college in Hamilton Road. I think it was called Malaysian Teachers Training College, MTC in short, or something like that. The base of the trees were ringed with bricks and cement.

Right across the road was Convent Green Lane. School was in session. I could hear voices of teachers and students. I could see their heads on the first floor over the tall hedge and through the louvered glass windows. Towering casuarina trees lined the fence inside the school. They provided shade and littered the place with pines and tiny cones at the same time. The two-lane road was rather quiet, save for the occasional cars or motorcycles passing by.

The sizzling from the big black kuali pulled my attention back to the purpose I was there for. The uncle, as we would call all middle-aged men irrespective whether we were related or not, was gently feeding the bubbling oil with slices of batter-coated sweet potatoes. A cluster of ripened bananas hung from the roof of the cart. Some of them were already turning dark. Greasy fumes rose from the boiling oil as it simmered and frothed.

Uncle lifted his eyes off the kuali and looked at me, his hands still deftly feeding the slices of potato into the oil. I pointed to the wire tray where the crusty pieces of fritters were laid out. There were bananas, sweet potatoes, yam, cekodok (mashed banana fritter), lek tau (green bean patty) and tnee koay (glutinous rice cake) sandwiched in sweet potato and yam, all nicely browned.

“Keng jio,” I told him, indicating I wanted one with my index finger.

He nodded but did not speak as he slid the last slice of sweet potato into the oil. The fritters bobbed up and down in the oil, slowly turning a golden brown. He picked a banana fritter off the tray with a food tong and placed it in a bag made from brown paper. I dug into my pocket and fished out one 20 sen and one 10 sen coins. I handed him the money with one hand and received the bag with the fritter with the other. The oil began to soak through and stain the paper.

I let half of the fritter slide out from the bag and sank my teeth into it, rolling the piece in my mouth from side to side to prevent my tongue from getting burnt. The crust was fragrant. The pisang raja within was slightly sourish and still piping hot. I could see vapour escaping from the bitten off end. A few more mouthfuls and all that left was the greasy brown paper bag with morsels of crusts at the bottom. My appetite satiated, I continued on my ride home.

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Slave to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. End-stage renal disease since 2017. Principal Facilitator at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. Former columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

3 thoughts on “Pisang Goreng”

  1. wow…feeling very hungry after reading your post…the description of the “Pisang Goreng” is so good…yum…

    I myself became hungry after writing that. Hehe.

  2. My home used to be off green lane in Solok Mas.We moved in the estate in 1963 as it was just coming up!!My sister schooled in Green lane convent.You could walk across Green Lane without any problems,the traffic was light in those days.
    Yes, we were regular customers of that particular pisang goreng stall.Its still around except now its at the other end of Hamilton road.
    I don’t particularly like goreng pisang, rather i prefer fried sweet potatos,fried yam, or yam with tee kueh.Fried chempedak is another great thing to have.Being the only son, my task in those days would be to cycle forth on my old trusty raleigh and buy goreng pisang for the family afternoon tea on weekends!

    At the mention of cempedak, I could literally smell it in my nostrils. Those I never bought from the stall because my uncle has a plantation and he would usually give us a few cempedak when it was in season. We would deep fry half and eat fresh the other half. Now, where can I find deep fried cempedak here?

  3. You’re lucky to have free chempedak!! I rank them a close second to durian.Fried chempedak has no peers in the taste department although you get a sore throat the next day without fail.We used to cook the seeds too, tastes good although you won’t be very popular with all the flatulence it creates!!

    From Hamilton road to ayer itam, thats a long way to cycle.Have you ever taken the short cut by the cemetery and next to the river in batu lanchang and thru’ the pig farms to thean teik estate? I used to do that in the evenings, it was spooky man!!

    I have never used the shortcut before but have hiked up the hillock opposite Georgetown Secondary School many times. My parents, in their morning walks, have walked all the way from Jalan Terengganu to Ayer Itam using the short cut and on Jalan Ayer Itam, not at night though. If the cempedak is properly deep fried, you can actually eat it after whacking the flesh without having to boil it first. You sure have a lot of stories to tell. Start a blog lar.

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