If Apam Balik Isn't From Malaysia, Where Is It From?

Need some apam balik after reading this.

Cover image via Wikipedia & WorldWindows

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Which kind of apam balik fan are you? The thin, crispy version or the thick, chewy one?

Image via GIPHY

Whichever type you enjoy, one thing we know is that apam balik is a well-loved snack by many Malaysians.

But did you know that it's not originally from Malaysia?

Though the pancake is mainly sprinkled with crushed peanuts and corn, there are different variations and names of apam balik, and they can also be found in Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei, and Singapore.

Terang bulan (shining moon), martabak manis (a sweet version of martabak), ban jian kueh, min chiang kueh, dai gau min, chin loong pau, and kap biang, are just some of its many names.

Image via foodpanda

So if it's not from Malaysia, where is it from?

Well, its origins is actually in China. Fujian, to be exact.

It is said that General Tso Tsung T'ang, who was a Qing Dynasty military leader, was sent to Fujian in 1855 to lead an army during a rebellion. General Tso was appointed to fight against the rebel riots. At the time, a common food that the locals and army were eating was flatbread with spring onions and chilli sauce.

Instead of using up the locals' food supplies, General Tso decided to replace the spring onions with ground cane sugar and peanuts — which were more readily available ingredients in the region.

General Tso.

Image via World Digital Library/DailyMail

His concoction soon spread throughout the Fujian province and became an affordable street snack. 

Immigrants from Fujian later introduced apam balik to other countries in Southeast Asia and here we are!

The first place in Malaysia that they appeared in was Penang

Today, modern versions of the snack include fillings like chocolate or cheese. 

If you're craving for apam balik now, here's how you can make your own thin, crispy version at home:

Read more interesting origin stories of these other Malaysian favourites: