Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Morning Wet Market & The Breakfast of Champions

I am not usually a morning person.

However, this morning I decided to drag myself out of bed and venture to the morning wet markets. As a child, I used to accompany my mother to these wet markets to buy fresh produce. It was the only way to shop in those days - before the big supermarket chains changed the way we bought our groceries. 

The Morning Wet Market

At the break of dawn, these fresh produce and meat sellers would procure their products from the farms and suppliers. Then they will assemble their products in their own carts or stalls at a specified area. Yes, the area is zoned for a wet market with the condition that they will dismantle everything and leave the said area by 12 noon or the set time. It is usually a large parking spot that has been turned to a wet market like the one pictured above. After 12 noon, it will be returned to its original status as a parking lot. It is always busiest at around 9:00am to 10:00am.  

In Malaysia, these markets are called wet markets because the ground is literally wet. 

The View from at the Ground Level

You can find all things "fresh" here - vegetables, fruits, seafood, meat and etc. I have not taken a picture of the hanging fresh cut meats. It has never been a pretty sight to behold in my books. What I do enjoy going through are the vegetables and fruits. Every stall owner would mind their own space, careful not to over-step the boundaries of another. 

Vegetables Galore

Assortment of Fruits

One of the several Fish Mongers
A wet market is never complete without the usual "traditional" breakfast stall-sellers. There is the "nasi lemak" lady with her own small table set up. "Nasi Lemak" is a staple breakfast diet for most Malaysians. It is basically coconut milk-infused cooked rice served with a half of a hard boiled egg, some fried anchovies, roasted peanuts, slices of cucumber and accompanied by the famous spicy "sambal" sauce. Then it is all wrapped up nicely in banana leaf.

The "Nasi Lemak" Lady

"Nasi Lemak" Unwrapped 

These days, there are several variations to the original "nasi lemak". There are even "gourmet" versions whereby you can add "chicken rendang" or "beef rendang", fried chicken and etc. "Rendangs" are traditional Malay-styled curries but in a dry form, unlike the soupy curries that we usually see. These "rendangs" are always loaded with spices and exude a wonderful enticing aroma when done well.

Another local favourite breakfast diet is the "Chee Cheong Fan". It is essentially made of rice flour and rolled into individual long cylinder pieces. Similar to the rice flour "Cheong Fans" in Chinese Restaurants for "Dim Sum". However, these are plain "Cheong Fans" - without any meat fillings.

The "Chee Cheong Fan" Stall

These are usually eaten with fish balls, fish cakes of different varieties and drenched in sauce. We have a choice of sauces - from curry, to spicy to sweet. I usually pack all three just because I do appreciate variety. Of course, we can pick anything that we like to go with the "Chee Cheong Fan". The stall above sells all kinds of tofu and soy products to go along with the "Chee Cheong Fan".

The sauces to accompany the "Chee Cheong Fan"

This is how we serve the "Chee Cheong Fan" at home

And this is usually how I eat mine - drenched in a mixture of the sweet and spicy sauce. Yes, in the end, the curry sauce was left aside :(

My Fave Combi of the "Chee Cheong Fan"

Lastly, another local delight which one may not find in Western countries - the "Putu Mayam". It is another childhood fave of mine. It is a sweet rice-vermicelli-looking dish that is served with grated coconut and "gula melaka" (coconut palm sugar). Here, at the wet market, an Indian man sells it straight from a box off his motorcycle. 

Preparing the "Putu Mayam" for a customer

Yes, he uses his bare hands! No, just kidding.

All packed up and ready for the happy customer to take home

The "Putu Mayam" is the perfect ending to my entire breakfast. Yes, I started off with the "nasi lemak" which is traditionally Malay, then moved onto the "Chee Cheong Fan" which stems from a Chinese culture and ended with the Indian "Putu Mayam".

Naturally, there are much more varieties in a Malaysian cuisine in terms of breakfasts. I am just highlighting one small part of my Sunday morning. The cities all around Malaysia are buzzing with all kinds of people waking up, and venturing out of their homes in search for their favourite Malaysian breakfasts by now. 

This is the glorious priviledge of living in Malaysia. Our breakfasts are created from our colourful and diverse communities. To me, IT IS THE BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS.

In fact, in most households, it is not surprising to find that the dining table would feature dishes from different races. In my family home, our meals are as colourful and diverse as our motherland, Malaysia. This is what "One Malaysia" tastes like :)

May we always enjoy the beauty and harmony of being Malaysians, living in Malaysia. 

Have a lovely Sunday, everyone.

Peace to all :)

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