Melaka: Of Satay Celup and a sweet ending

Let me introduce you to Satay Celup. Directly translated from the Malay language, satay – as everyone is familiar with – are just meat skewers whereas ‘celup’ means the act of dipping. In this awesome case, it comprises of dipping all sorts of skewered goodness into a bubbling hot pot of satay sauce. Gasp!

Of course, there is a catch to all good food and that is the queue. So for the second time in a day, we were queuing up for food. Only this time, it was raining, damp and humid. Much better than the sweltering heat earlier in the day though. As some connoisseurs may already have noticed, this satay celup shop was not the most popular choice but we resorted to its nearest competitor as Capitol, situated a few doors down, was closed for the weekend.

As patrons took their time savouring their meal, the rest of us waited patiently outside the shop and down the street. It was about 40 minutes later that we got a table to ourselves.

The process was very simple really. We sat down at a metal-topped table with a hole in the middle housing a gas stove underneath. The wait staff would then promptly plonk a large hot pot three quarters filled with hot peanuty satay sauce. The stove will be turned on the feast begins.

There were about half a dozen full-length fridges chuck full of skewers, some priced as cheap as 50 cents per stick. There was an array of vegetables, seafood, meats and all sorts of skewerable edibles. Out of this lot here, some of my favourites were the quail eggs and the fried Chinese doughnut. I have to give it to these guys to come up with the yew char kueh as a ‘satay’ item. Such ingenuity!

The fried dough was magic at absorbing the satay sauce, rendering every mouthful a chewy peanut-laden spicy punch of flavour. And best of all, it was one of the cheapest items available. Ha!

Behold the best satay celup stick of all time: the kangkung. I truly believe that the kangkung exists for one purpose and one purpose only, and that is to marry belacan. Boy was I wrong. Being a hollow-stemmed vegetable, the kangkung was excellent in collecting the satay sauce within the vegetable and like the fried doughnut, packs bags of flavour. Unlike the fried doughnut, the kangkung was crisp and crunchy after being dipped and cooked in the pot. I had no issues gobbling down two full sticks of this amazing form of fibre. The only problem was making a mess of myself as it was near impossible to chew through such a huge ball of vegetable.

After washing down the satay celup with some Ginseng Chrysanthemum tea, we headed back to Jonker Walk for another night of market fun. And eating of course.

As we arrived much earlier than the previous night, there were reasonably more stuff around to poke about. The same stall selling muah chee from the other night actually sold various Nyonya Kueh as well. The collapsible table was laden with colourful traditional kuehs and I have to say, I have never seen most of them before.

Kuih Talam and Kuih Serimuka were household names for me but it was quite strange to see them looking so different here in Melaka. The Kuih Talam that I am familiar with has a rounded dome with a layer each of coconut milk, pandan and Gula Melaka. However, this one was…blue. My favoured Serimuka has a pandan custard layer on top with a glutinous rice layer sitting at the bottom. The ones they were selling actually had three layers. Gee, Melaka sure is different.

There was also a black glutinous rice one which looked interesting and turned out tasting the best out of the lot that we bought – we bought one of everything. It was sticky and sweet, as a proper kueh should be. The pandan complemented the glutinous rice very well to give it some fragrance. This was a good kueh though I couldn’t say the same for the rest that we bought.

As we were strolling down the street, I couldn’t help but notice the many old shopfronts sporting intricate carvings and designs that were distinctly Peranakan in origin. I thought they were very pretty and was glad that they were maintained in mint condition.

Next to line my stomach was a fantastic durian apom balik. Apom balik is a type of crispy pancake, usually filled with crushed peanuts and sugar. This durian version was the vendor’s own rendition of the popular snack and it worked very well indeed. I think it was due to the generous uncle using fresh durian pulp in the filling. Oh I was on cloud nine.

We were back at Jonker88 before long and to our delight, there were more desserts available at this earlier time. The man opted for a melon cendol. Not a fan of melons myself, I found this quite average.

My durian cendol, on the other hand, was another story. It was an entire ode to its own. Man I love durians! This was an incredible medley of finely shaved ice, drizzled with Gula Melaka and plopped with durian pulp. It was a truly yummy delicacy dedicated to durian lovers. My only qualm was I wished that they had been even more generous with the durian.

I just realized that this was the first picture of (part of) my face on this blog. Teehee. Hello. The plastic tray of cutesies strategically blocking the rest of my face was Kuih Pee Tie. It is a truly Peranakan delicacy. I think Pee Tie translates to ‘Top Hat’. It’s basically a molded fried shell with lots of different fillings ranging from yam cubes, seafood, vermicelli, peanuts to all sorts of vegetables. We had two each of a chicken and egg, a prawn, and a crabstick Pee Tie.

It was yum. The picture says it all.

Nearing the end of the street was a temporary stage with a whole bunch of auties and uncles line dancing. So cute!

We also stumbled upon a replica of the world’s largest pineapple tart! HA! It was 32 inches wide and weighed a whopping 35kg, much heavier than some of the undernourished people that I see day to day.

After crossing paths with the gigantic pineapple tart, we were drawn to the wafting smells of fresh normal sized variety. It was a tosser between the flower-shaped ones or the rolled-up ones.

And we got the rolled-up ones because they just came out of the oven. These babies were buttery, sweet and sticky. Just what a good pineapple tart should be. We bought three big boxes full between us and left happily with thinner wallets and hideously full bellies.

Melaka, you have been good to us. We will be back!