Over in the peninsula, they have the coconut tree-product, the gula Melaka or palm sugar. We have our own version – what we call the gula apong

Gula apong 1

…which came from the nipah palm that grows in abundance in the swamps in the lower reaches of the mighty Rejang River. The Chinese call it attap th’ng (sugar), attap being the palm leaves that people used to make thatched roofs in the days gone by.

It is a substitute for gula Melaka here when making those delicious Malay or nyonya kuihs (cakes) and I hear that some use it for one of the layers in the 3 or 4-layer tea…

Layer tea
*recycled pic*

…that seems to be the favourite of many.

I usually use it as a dip when eating boiled bandong or what is called ubi kayu  (tapioca/cassava) over in the peninsula…

Gula apong & tapioca

In the past, we would add lard to the gula apong but these days, lard is no longer readily available so we may use olive oil instead…or just eat it as it is.

I have also heard that the man at the Simpang Tiga stall here uses it to marinate his chicken wings and I must say that they taste really great! Very different from what we can get elsewhere and very very nice! They were only RM1.00 each a long time ago but it went up to RM1.50 and the last time I stopped by to buy – RM2.00. I wonder if the price has gone up since. Tsk! Tsk!

According to a seller at the market, the gula apong is getting scarce as young people are no longer interested in getting involved. If I’m not mistaken, the making may get a bit tedious as one would need to keep stirring it till it becomes thick…

Gula apong 2

…and that is no easy task, I assure you.

Actually, Quay Po bought a tub home when she was in town – I wonder what she has done with it so far. Well, the other day, I used it for this very nice tapioca dessert…

STP's tapioca dessert

I cut boiled tapioca into bite-size cubes and putting that in a bowl, I poured chilled milk into it and added gula apong. Ooooo…it was very nice! Perhaps you can use santan (coconut milk) or evaporated milk instead and if you have shaved ice, it may make it colder and nicer. I had to resist the urge to add a scoop of vanilla ice cream – bet that would taste great too…and I’m sure you can do the same with sweet potatoes or yam or have all three together and add some sago pearls as well to make some kind of bubur cacar. That would certainly be  a really yummy dessert, don’t you think?