I choose…

Of course, there is no panggang like Kate’s panggang and by the way, that is the name we call it in our family after the lady who used to go round on a bicycle selling them. Don’t go round the kueh stalls in the kampungs asking for Kate’s panggang – they would not know what on earth you’re talking about. They call it by the name of the person making them, a Haji something but somehow or other, I just can’t seem to remember it even though those sellers have told me more than once.

The old man had retired, the younger ones in the family are making them now but unfortunately, they do not make them on a regular basis so you would have to be very lucky to stumble upon any for sale. They are going for RM1.10 each, the rest are priced at RM1.00 only so chances are if you come across any priced as such, those would be the ones to grab. The last time I managed to get some, it was at this kueh stall at the end of Kpg. Hilir beside the SEDC hawker stalls, opposite the MDS Supermarket at Simpang Tiga here…and that was quite a long time ago, still as nice as ever but they somehow looked thinner and shorter.

Now why am I bringing this up, you may ask? Well, when my Kuching cousins were in town, that afternoon when they dropped by my house for the popiah lunch, I saw that they had with them two leftover panggangs in a plastic bag and they looked so green and clean. “Eyewwwwww!!!” I exclaimed, “Those can’t possibly be nice!” The ones in Kuching are like these that I came across in Bintulu…

Bintulu sambal panggang
*Archive photo*

They have sambal inside and yes, they do taste nice if the sambal inside is nice but once I had some from Kuching with a whole lot of sambal and very little pulut (glutinous rice) so that was some sort of an overkill. Not nice. You just can’t go overboard with these things, really.

Those do not need much panggang-ing as there is the sambal to give it its taste to go with the pulut but our pulut panggangs here are not the same. Yes, lately, we do have the ones with sambal as well but true-blue panggang eaters will not settle for anything less than the real thing – the kosong (no filling) ones…and when buying, one must know how to tell the good ones from those mediocre or not-so-good ones sold all over.

Firstly, the banana leaves must be badly burnt and black…

Pulut panggang 1

– that would be an indication that it has been well-panggang-ed over a hot charcoal fire. That is essential to give it that smoked fragrance without which the panggang will be nothing more than salted pulut wrapped in banana leaf, nothing to get excited about.

You can also take one and smell it. My missus finds that disgusting and would grumble that the sellers would not be happy about me doing that. Well, if I cannot detect the much-coveted panggang-ed fragrance at all, I would just put it back – no point wasting my time and money…and calories.

Then when you open one up, it should be nice and oily…

Pulut panggang 2

…not dry and clean. In Kate’s ones, you may detect some traces of the santan (coconut milk) which would go to show how lemak it is. Now that is another thing in panggang that separates the boys from the men. It must be lemak enough and that is what makes Kate’s stand out way above the rest – those are extra lemak and of course, extra nice! I sure would not mind forking out that extra 10 sen just for that!

If you look at the pulut, you may detect a slight tint of gold…

Pulut panggang 3

That must be very slight and not brown, the result of over-panggang-ing, in which case the pulut would be hard and not all that palatable at all. In the case of this one, you can see that the tint is only on the outside…

Pulut panggang 4

…very superficial so it is perfectly all right and may be considered as having been very nicely done actually.

Many would prefer to eat this pulut panggang on its own and enjoy its slightly salty and very lemak taste plus the panggang-ed fragrance but with my sweet tooth, I would rather have it with kaya (coconut jam)…

Pulut panggang 5

…or condensed milk or to the very least, sugar.

I bought this one at RM1.00 each and I found that it was pretty good – no, not as nice as Kate’s but good enough. After all, as they say, beggars can’t be choosers.