It’s been a fantastic morning, with a visit to Petanak Wet Market, followed by Swee Kang Ais Kacang and Kuching’s most famous banana fritter stall. But there’s more to come. In the afternoon, it’s time for a Malaysian cooking class.
Our class begins with a trip to Satok Market where we buy ingredients for the dishes we’re about to cook. We’re each given a woven basket like what the Dayak people traditionally use (which, let’s face it, immediately identifies us as tourists :)). Kuching tour guide Joseph gives us a guided tour and we load up our baskets with fresh produce as we move through the market. I’m glad I’m not the one who ends up carrying the heavy poky pineapples.
We pull up outside the market and soon as we open the bus door I smell it… glorious, pungent durian.
As we walk towards the covered market stalls, the air smells of the sweet, ripe tropical fruit that is in abundance.
I have stumbled into Banana Land!
Australian banana growers have had a tough year with Cyclone Yasi in Queensland (where most of our bananas are grown) and floods in the North West of Western Australia flattening whole plantations and destroying three quarters of Australia’s banana crops. During the year, the price of bananas went up as high at AU$15 a kilogram. At the time I was in Kuching, I had been banana-deprived for many months, so you can imagine my excitement to see beautiful ripe plump bananas for sale in Kuching at RM2 a kilogram – that’s around AU60 cents a kilo, unheard of in Australia, even without flood-affected prices. It’s taken months for the Australian banana industry to recover, but prices have begun to become affordable again across Australia and we’re back to including bananas on our grocery shopping list.
But as I mentioned in my post about Kuching’s most famous banana fritter stall, Malaysian bananas are so much sweeter than the ones I eat back home.
I think these are the bananas they call “pisang tanduk” – “tanduk” means “horn” (as in cow horn, buffalo horn) in Malay.
The colours of the fresh produce at Satok Market are truly a feast for the eyes.
There is work being done at the stalls, including the peeling of galangal and the sorting and bundling of snake beans ready for sale.
The smell of the dried fish, shrimp and anchovies remind me of my childhood.
You can’t see it in the photo, but this woman was engrossed in reading her newspaper.
The rempah man sells fragrantly spicy sambal and curry pastes. You can buy as much paste as you need, by weight, or choose one of the prepackaged pastes.
We reach the wet section of the market where whole birds are on display at the chicken stall.
It’s warm in the undercover market and as we tread carefully through the wet section, the scent of raw poultry and fish are strong.
We’ll be cooking rendang ayam (chicken rendang), but one of our group does not eat chicken, so we make a stop to buy some fresh fish for her fish curry.
This fishmonger is pretty proud of his river king prawns – these are like the large prawns fried in butter and garlic that we enjoyed at Top Spot food court the night before.
Just as I did at Petanak Wet Market, I marvel at the different species of fish for sale, many of which I can’t identify.
We buy some mackerel for the fish curry, which the fishmonger chops into pieces upon request.
Amidst all the activity, there’s a spot for a nap.
There is more seafood and other fresh produce at shops across the road.
With our baskets full of fresh ingredients, it’s time for our cooking class…
Jalan Satok, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Telephone: +60 82-246 575
Read the posts in my Kuching Trip 2011 series
There are more Kuching posts to come.
I’m currently on holiday in Sydney and having fun, taking lots of photographs and eating great food. While I’m away, The best way to keep up to date, get your daily dose of TFP and join in discussions is to follow me on Twitter, visit/like my page on Facebook or check the Twitter and Facebook widgets in the right sidebar on any page of this blog.