Fritters are an extremely common snack in Singapore, seen everywhere from hawker centres to pasar malam stalls. They are also a common appearance in Malay households, as the basic batter is made from simple ingredients. The add-ons are also variable to what each cook has on hand.
Jemput jemput refer to traditional Malay fritters that are crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They can be either sweet or savoury. The most famous sweet iteration is probably the jemput jemput pisang. Made from mashed overripe bananas, consider these banana bread in fritter form. The savoury version is a close cousin of the Indonesian bakwan sayur. They are vegetable fritters that are a sure-fire way to get your children to eat their greens.
Hairil Suikame shares that the key to a crispy fritter is to make sure that the oil is hot. You can easily test this by placing a small drop of batter into the hot oil. if it is hot enough, the batter will immediately sizzle and float. Another tip is to not overcrowd the pan as it will cool the oil down too quickly. Here’s what he has to say about the fritters in his own words.
Hairil Sukaime’s Jemput Jemput
“Jemput jemput is a traditional Malay fritter that is so good they named it twice! With jemput literally meaning “welcome”, it is no surprise for one to welcome a guest to his or her home with this simple but satisfying snack. Made from humble pantry staples, these modest yet moreish morsels are also a common sight in Malay households during breakfast and afternoon tea. A customary greeting commonly uttered by the host when serving these fritters is “jemput makan“, which loosely translates to “please eat”; showcasing yet another gesture of warmth and hospitality. To top off the snacking experience, a slightly sweet-but-tart chilli dipping sauce serves to counter the richness of the deep fried fritters.” – Hairil Suikame
125g plain flour
1 medium onion, sliced
1 spring onion, sliced
1 stalk of Chinese celery, chopped
4 teaspoons salt
2 red chillies, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly
3 tablespoons sugar
Juice from 4-5 calamansi limes
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
Mix the plain flour, onion, spring onion, Chinese celery, 2 teaspoons of salt and 300g water until no lumps remain.
Adjust with more flour or water to form a slightly thick batter.
In a pestle and mortar or blender, grind the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt, chillies, garlic and sugar into a paste.
Add 1 tablespoon of water and the calamansi juice. Set this dipping sauce aside while you fry your fritters.
Heat oil in a wok or deep pan until a small drop of batter sizzles and floats immediately. Drop tablespoonfuls of batter into the oil. Do not crowd the pan.
Cook the fritters until they turn a handsome golden brown, flipping the fritters occasionally.
Drain the fritters on a colander to remove excess oil.
Serve immediately with dipping sauce.
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