Fry Your Own Hum Jin Pang for Just SGD$1!

Who would’ve thought that you can cook your own food in a hawker centre? What more at an extremely reasonable price of $1 for 6 pieces of hum jin pang?! Where do you get such a good deal? Look no further — this stall at Maxwell Food Centre offers you just that. You do it yourself, and you pay less. Hum jin pang (咸煎饼) is a Guangdong traditional snack and its name basically means salty pan-fried pastry in Cantonese.

This business is run by a family which has been around for decades and the old man who used to tend to the stall has since handed the baton to his daughter. In spite of inflation through the years, this humble stall strives to maintain its prices, which we ought to be thankful for.

It offers two variations — sweet and salty. The sweet one has got red bean paste in it and you can differentiate it from the salty one by the presence of sesame seeds on its skin. On the other hand, the salty one has no filling, but five-spice powder is sprinkled on the surface. I would say both are equally flavorsome. Hum jim pang is soft and yet, has a springy texture so it is a little chewy. One bite into it and you will crave for more. And that is why the owners made a right choice to sell six at a go and not just one, so you don’t have to waste time queuing again.

Just tell the auntie how many sweet and how many salty ones you want and she will roll the dough out and slip the pieces down the wok of boiling oil. The onus is now on you — you will have to work that huge pair of chopsticks and flip the dough pieces to ensure they are evenly fried (since they float) and to check if it is already brown enough to your liking. Enjoy the sizzling of the oil as you wait for them to be cooked.

When you are satisfied with the colour, you will then need to transfer them onto a metal grill. This is to let the oil drip and cool them a bit. Now, you have the option of rolling your masterpieces in sugar. Go for it, as it provides that extra crunch and it makes life sweeter.

When you’re done, pack them into the brown paper bag provided. Slip that $1 coin to the auntie and thank her for giving you such an experience (that you can proudly proclaim to your friends that “[insert your name] can cook!”).

Growing up, I watched my mom fry those pieces. Today, though, I am tall enough and can handle the chopsticks so I could finally try my hand at this. It was a very fun and unique experience, no doubt. I was actually co-creating something, as though I was helping my mom with cooking at home. I relished in that warm feeling (okay, it’s literally warm).

How to get there:

Hum Jin Pang

Address: Maxwell Food Centre, #01–28 (1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore 069184)

Opening hours: Daily, 1pm-8pm (closed on Wednesdays)

Nearest MRTs: Tanjong Pagar MRT, Chinatown MRT

Bus: 2, 12, 61, 80, 145, 603, 608, 851, 961