Balitong Curry (Gulai Balitong)

June 7, 2022

One of my favorite dishes is Indonesian-style curry mixed with fresh ground spices, coconut milk, sweet potatoes, and noodles made from mung beans/tang hoon (optional).

It is a tradition for me to travel home to Penang, hunt for the rare shellfish species, and get a fix or two (or three) of them each time.

Shellfish are hard to come by in the US, which is why I miss them so much when I travel there.

I didn’t make an exception on my most recent trip back home. I went to the local wet market the day after I arrived in quest of fresh balitong (a sort of Malaysian sea snail) and gyowa (a type of Japanese squid) (Hokkien name of a kind of local clams with very sweet flesh). I was blessed with an abundance of new, unopened containers of them.

With fresh ground spice paste, coconut milk, sweet potatoes, and noodles cooked from mung beans, my mother and aunt would construct a balitong mixture that I love (optional).

Every time I think about this spicy-sweet curry, my mouth waters. After some discussion with my mother and aunt, a balitong and sweet potato curry was on the menu.

My balitong won over my father, even though my mother is no longer able to cook. Because he hadn’t eaten this dish in a long time, it was gone in a flash.

It was with immense pleasure that he sucked out the flesh from the spiral shell and swallowed it. I could have hoped for the greatest compliment was “ho chiak,” which means “delicious” in Hokkien dialect.

A little too much-ground spice paste was employed in my initial experiment, but it was still delicious. I’m just happy to have learned yet another treasured family recipe, one that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

With this recipe, what are its complementary dishes?

I’ve compiled a collection of recipes that are both healthy and quick enough to prepare on a weeknight.

  • Napa Cabbage Stir Fry
  • Braised Bean Curd with Mushrooms (Firm Tofu)
  • Butter Prawn
  • Lotus Root Soup


  • Because I didn’t record my measurements while creating this dish and purchased fresh ground spice paste from the wet market, I don’t have a scientific recipe that I can give away. You can ask for the recipe by emailing me, and I’ll do my best to share the preparation technique with you.
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