Friday, December 11, 2009
Long long ago when I was young and growing up in Terengganu, I had to walk to the only 2 cinema halls in town - Capitol and Sultana. My cousins and I usually caught the afternoon shows. Our route would take us through Kampong China. When we reached the titian (the short bridge) that spanned the big drain and the river, we would often came across a balding middle-aged Chinese man in shorts and Pagoda singlets carrying a bamboo tray on his head and crying out "Pulut lepa juak juak!".
One of my cousins insisted that "juak juak" is the Chinese equivalent of "jual, jual" (for sale). Indeed the man was selling pulut lepa because we saw him stopping at several shops along Jalan Kampong China/Jalan Bandar where hungry customers were waiting with fistful of coins. Later on, when I got to Merang, I found out from my Tiah and Ee (they sort of adopted me) that "juak, juak" is the Hokkien equivalent of the Malay "panas panas".
Most food should be eaten hot. But chances of getting pulut lepa hot off the grill in KL is quite remote. It is a different story if you are in Terengganu. There is a place in Sungai Rengas Kuala Terengganu, near the jurunikah's house where you can wait for the pulut lepa to be grilled. And what wonderful pulut lepa they are. The generous filling is made of fish. The colour is whitish. If it is orange, it is not Terengganu's pulut lepa. There is ginger in the filling but never turmeric. Do not confuse pulut lepa with pulut udang or even pulut panggang. The filling should be fish and not some curried coconut. Note too how the daun pisang (banana leaf) wrapper is fastened. The real MacCoy uses sharpened lidi NOT the office staples.
If you are curious to see and taste the real pulut lepa, you are in luck. Come to the foyer of Mayang Sari Ballroom, JW Marriot KL on Sunday 20th Dec between 11 am and 5 pm. There will be limited pulut lepa for sale as well as rokok arab. Awang Goneng and Kak Teh will be in line to get rokok arab, which, in spite of the many Arabs in London, are scarce. There will be songkets and other Terengganu stuffs too at the bazaar in conjunction with the Official Launch of "Kulit Manis: A Taste of Terengganu's Heritage". Come and enjoy yourself. Get the book and get the tastes of Terengganu too. Admission to the bazaar is free. A handshake with Awang Goneng is free too, if you smile nicely.