A snack sold at roadside hawker stalls throughout Malaysia, Cekodok at it’s simplest is a traditional fritter which can be made with a variety of ingredients. It’s basically the Malaysian alternative to banana bread – what you make when you have too many overripe bananas to use up! Cekodok seems to be available everywhere in Malaysia, from the old uncle frying it at the side of the road to more upmarket stalls cooking to order in hawker centres. At it’s heart it’s comfort food, with a crispy outside and a fluffy, smooth inner, not too sweet but still warm. As well as a snack they also make a great breakfast food, suitable for dipping in your morning tea or coffee.
My wife and I have differing approaches in our banana consumption. I prefer them to be almost unripe, with a slight crunch to them, but not unripe enough that peeling them is difficult. On the other hand, my wife prefers them to be almost overripe, as she seems to have an allergic reaction to the skin of young bananas. This means that however long we’ve had the bananas in our fruit bowl, usually one of us will be happy to eat them. So when I want to make Cekodok Pisang I usually have to buy a bunch of bananas and purposely leave them for the best part of a week to age!
Whilst Cekodok is a very easy food to make, the only problem I have is with the deep frying. I almost never cook anything using a deep fat fryer; mainly for health reasons (I’d probably end up deep frying everything!) but also what the heck am I meant to do with all the used oil? So I would say my method of cooking Cekodok is semi-deep frying; not shallow, but also not deep. It seems to work without using an excess of oil, but still more than I’d like.
This recipe includes an optional ingredient that I’ve not seen used in Malaysia but is in the Malaysia Hall Canteen in London – coconut! Whilst it might be an unusual addition I find it gives the Cekodok a nice extra texture and flavour. Give it a try!
Ang Moh’s Cekodok Recipe
Serves 4, or 2 Malaysians
2 overripe bananas (~150g)
2 tbsp rice flour
3 tbsp plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp sugar (brown sugar is preferred)
1 tbsp desiccated coconut (optional)
Peel the bananas and mash them up roughly with a fork. They don’t have to be too smooth, some lumps are fine, and for some people even preferable. Add in your flours, salt, bicarb of soda, sugar and optionally desiccated coconut, and mix together until you have a batter without any lumps of flour.
Next step is to heat up your oil. There are many ways to fry the Cekodok, but I will just be describing the method I use. I’m sure those of you who own a deep fat fryer will be more than capable of improving on my technique!
I fill a small saucepan around half full with vegetable oil, and heat it to medium high heat. It will take a while for the oil to get up to heat, and you can check if it’s ready using a couple of ways. Firstly, if you have a bamboo or wooden chopstick, you can dip it in the oil and see if bubbles appear around it after a few seconds. If they do, the oil should be hot enough. The second way to check is of course to put a bit of the mixture into the oil and see if it cooks!
When the oil is up to temperature, get about a dessert spoon of the Cekodok mixture, and slowly add it into the oil. It should ideally keep together. Once it has settled, you can add a few more spoonfuls of mixture to the oil, depending on how much space you have left in the pan. After a minute or two of frying, you can use an implement, ideally a metal slotted spoon, to turn the Cekodoks over so they cook on all sides. You can continue to turn them around in the oil for a few more minutes, or until they’ve reached the colour you prefer.
Carefully take them out of the oil and place on kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil. Continue frying with the rest of the mixture. When all is done you can wait for the Cekodok to cool, or eat them straight away, depending on your patience and appetite!
Note: for those who do not wish to deep fry, it is possible to cook Cekodok using a normal frying pan or wok to shallow fry, however the end result will be more like a small pancake. However I’m sure they’ll still be tasty!