On weekends, Cumi & Ciki love to go to the wet market.
The Setapak wet market is usually a hive of activity by the time we get there. Setapak is a major suburb in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Formerly a tin-mining and rubber-growing area, the name is derived from the Malay word ‘tapak’ which means ‘step’, and so Setapak means ‘one step away’, probably from Kuala Lumpur because it is pretty nearby.
Setapak is famous for attractions such as the National Zoo, the Ayer Panas Hot Springs as well as the fantastically cheap and delectable hawker food!
Why do we call it a Wet Market?
Well, because the floor is constantly wet!
The vendors frequently spray the veggies with water to keep them fresh, and that water drips down into gutters in the floor. Also, since butchering of animals is messy business and requires a lot of water you will inevitably find yourself walking around in the muck as you slosh your way through the WET market. Make sure you invest in a decent pair of cheap rubber shoes of rubber flip-flops because you are going to want to wash off all that gore, once you are done at the market.
So, if it is so messy, why on earth do people still insist on going to the wet market to shop for food?
Because this is the place where you will find the cheapest and freshest produce.
The wet market can be overwhelming!
The chaotic noise, the humid atmosphere and the mad scurrying of people jostling for the freshest batch of everything is enough to make you want to leave.
(Speaking of leave, can anyone tell us what ‘leaf’ that is , in the photo above:P)
The Wet Market can be crowded, humid and noisy.
However, if you stick with it you will see poultry, fish, meat, fresh fruits and vegetables in the largest variety possible.
Wet markets generally include butcher sections and fish sections, which are in a separate area from the spices, fruit and vegetable stalls.
ginger and peanuts.
pumpkin, lychee and bananas.
ginseng root and an assortment of Chinese herbs.
Fresh coconut that is shaved the traditional way for its milk.
First, the coconut is cracked apart by the blunt end of a meat cleaver while the juice escapes from the cracks. The worker then holds the coconut half against the spinning scraper to give you the dessicated strands. Seems easy enough? …Just like anything else, what seems simple is actually a practice that’s done daily. You’d have to go through hundreds of coconuts yet you have to extract all of the flesh without breaking the shell or wasting the flesh. Would you hold a coconut on to a spinning scraper with your bare hands?
Just like anything else, what seems simple is actually a practice that’s done daily
Too lazy to mix water into the dessicated coconut and squeeze the santan (coconut milk) out? No worries, the stalls will have the pre-squeezed coconut milk waiting for you when you arrive. Nowadays even wet markets are becoming more efficient and do a lot of the ‘messy’ work, for you. The coconut milk here is super fresh.
People ask us or our family members, why we shop at the wet market.. Well once you eat the vegetables and fruits from the wet market, you won’t want to buy them from the supermarket again. The veggies are more plump and tasty and they actually last longer in the fridge than the ones from the supermarket.
For ciki, the meat you buy from the wet market has less of a smell.
Take chicken for example. Supermarket chicken has a weird, deep freeze smell that I really dislike. Not so with wet market chicken. At the wet market, you can by ALL the parts of the chicken .. raw or cooked.. take your pick.
Yeah, buying food at the wet market is like chicken feet;)
The great thing about Setapak Wet Market is that it is relatively clean. There are less flies in this market and that tells me that they have their waste disposal under control.
Also, there is hardly any smell even in the butcher’s section.
In Malaysia, meat is chopped up on a large flat piece of wood called the “Cham-Pan” (chopping board). By the end of the day, the butcher scrapes off the meat remnants and wipes the board down for the next day. Not the most hygienic of practices but nobody I know every died from eating meat prepared this way. (Not that I know of, anyway!)
All the parts of the animal are utilized in the market, including the pig’s snout. (picture on the left).
On to the fish section.
The endless selection of fish.
I can’t say, I smell something fishy..
..because I don’t! This area is yet again clean with hardly any stinking fish smell and I am totally impressed with the Setapak wet market.
So, after a hectic morning of marketing, what do you do?
It is always a good idea to grab a quick breakfast before you leave the market.
In Malaysia, most of our wet markets have a section for breakfast too. This is the eating section of the market and it’s normally just as busy as the wet market. Now you know why we go the wet markets!
You will see many people eating at the stalls or waiting for their take-away.
The Setapak Market is very ” One Malaysia” as there is a variety of food from Indian, to Malay, to Chinese cuisine.. but all this is sold out by 11 am.. so you need to be fast. Shop, eat and get out!
A quick bite before we leave.
From Chinese Noodles to Malay Roti and Indian Thosai, we are spoilt for choice.
The ever so popular wantan mee stall.
Apam is Cumi’s favourite.
Setapak Wet Market is a great place to shop for fresh produce. We find the place clean and easy to navigate. The people are friendly as well and the food is great.
If you decide to grocery shop here for a change, we just might bump into you next weekend!
The bad news: Pusat Penjaja Air Panas Hawker is no longer in existence ( collage photo – top)
The good news: The entire hawker center has moved into a temporary set up, just across the road from the old location. The old location will soon be converted into a food court.
The super good news : Cumi & Ciki’s favourite Hennessy Lor Mee is operating in this new location (collage photo- below). Yay!Add:
Air Panas (Hot Spring) Wet Market, Setapak, KL.
Google Maps to the Setapak Wet Market