Monday, September 19, 2005

Walking down the gastronomical memory lane

I will add in more images after I scour for them online... hehee


Babe from Babe in the City KL tagged me on yet another gastronomical linked meme. This time, I’m required to dig into the treasure cove of childhood memories and list out 5 foods that I miss.

“Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy” VIH* said, and I concurred. Boy! Were we in for a surprise!

Well let’s not dally..

OK let’s see.. before I begin, I’m required to list out the previous bloggers who did this meme.

1. The Traveler's Lunchbox
2. Oswego Tea
3. Masak-masak
4. Babe in the City KL
5. My Monologues

Check!

Alright *rubbing hands with glee* let’s start. Wait! Wait! Wait!... let’s do this in reverse order ala “Hit List” style. OK.. let’s go..


Only 1 and already stuffing my face!

Slotting in at Number 5 is… “Nyonya bak chang” (in hokkien), Nyonya style rice dumplings. I remember always looking forward to the time of year when my late grandma would wrap these lurvely fragrant rice dumplings. It is the partner to the petite yellow alkaline water rice dumplings (Kan Soi Jong – in Cantonese).

In the early years, the ‘inti’ ( the filling) was made with pork. However, after the JE outbreak (plus the overall health consciousness of the family), my grandma improvised and used chicken instead. The meat would be minced and fried with ground peanuts and really fragrant spices.. I can almost smell the aroma of it now! It would fill the house and I would wait patiently for it to be cooked and ‘volunteer’ to taste it. Hey, it’s crucial to get the filling right you know! My grandma always knew I was just being plain greedy, but she would indulge hehe.

The filling would be wrapped into steamed glutinous rice in a leaf. A small cut of ‘pandan’ leaf would be slot in for the extra fragrance just before tying the yummilicious package up. Then it would be steamed for about 20 minutes before it is ready to be served.

When I got older (about 13 or so), I would sit for hours with my grandma wrapping the dumplings. Of course mine was never ‘perfectly’ shaped, but I always got praised for my efforts.. heheh .. see how a grandma pampers a grandchild!

Coming in close at Number 4 is … Buah Keluak. Not many people I know, knows about this ‘fruit’. In fact, it’s so elusive, that we only know of ONE stall in the Malacca market that sells it. The fruit is black with a hard shell, almost the size of my palm. The shape is a little like an irregular Japanese rice dumpling. If you knock two fruits together, it may sound hollow.



Cooking it will involve first soaking it for a few days. According to my grandma, this is to soften the shell a little and to also get rid of the impurities. Then will be the painstaking task of breaking open the fruit and digging out the slightly pungent, powdery black substance. This substance will be mixed with some ingredients that involved minced shrimp, then stuffed back into the shells.

Next the now filled-again shells would be cooked in spiced gravy. ( I knew I should have taken down this recipe.. perhaps my mum did.. but I’m really at a lost on the actual ingredients :p )

Eating this is the fun part.

First, you need a plate of rice. Then you pick up one of the cooked fruit (with your fingers), then put try and lap up the lovely gravy around it.. (oh I’m salivating while I’m typing this!). Next, you take the end of a teaspoon and dig out all the yummy filling onto your rice (erm.. try to lick your fingers clean before you do this.. don’t lose any of the precious gravy hehe). Scoop some gravy onto the rice and mix it all up. Heaven!

Stepping up to the plate at Number 3 is…egg tarts! Mind you, not ANY egg tart. Only egg tarts fresh out of the ovens of Tong Kee would do. I used to spend some holidays at my maternal grandparent’s place in Pudu. Almost always my grandpa would walk down to the Tong Kee Confectionary nearby to get me some freshly baked egg tarts.

Sitting down at the foldable dining table, dangling my feed (coz it couldn’t reach the floor), I would savor every bite of the egg tart. I sometimes just eat off the crust first, leaving the soft sweet egg pudding last. At time I would scoop out the pudding first and much on the flaky crust at the end. I also went through a phase where I would put the whole tart into a bowl and MASH IT ALL UP.. and savor the gastronomically wonderful mush! At nearly 50 cents a pop, the tarts were like a luxury item then. Now the going rate is about RM1 each.. talk about inflation rates!

Inching closer to the end of the list at Number 2 is .. Nyonya sambal fish. At least that's what I think it's called hehe... Yet another of my grandma's dishes. The sambal is pungent fragrant with 'belacan' (a kind of shrimp paste), and packed with chilli.. *slurp*

Everytime grandma cooks this dish it would tease our olfactory the entire afternoon. Especially when she pan fry the belacan and sambal. I could eat plain rice with ONLY the sambal and be VERY VERY happy hehe.. In fact I always go for seconds when this dish is served.

The dish that I miss most.. the NUMERO UNO.. “Ho Lan Char” (in hokkien). It loosely translates to Fried Potatoes. The ingredients for this dish is REALLY simple

1 Hard boiled egg diced
1 – 2 Boiled potatoes diced
¼ can of Luncheon meat diced
Some small shrimp
Chopped garlic
Salt & pepper for taste.

Heat up about 2 spoons full of oil in a wok. Throw in garlic and sauté till fragrant. In goes the shrimp. Lightly toss till those babies start turning pinkJ. Stir in the luncheon meat, followed by the potatoes and eggs. Then season with salt and pepper till it suits your palate.

This dish was served in our household nearly once EVERY WEEK. Till date, my late grandma is still the ONLY one I know who cooked this dish. She always whips up this dish in celebration of my birthday (coz she knows I absolutely lurves it). It may look a little humble.. but definitely HIGH on the YUM factor.. and it ALWAYS brings back fond memories.

And that is why.. I was a CHUBBY kid..

Phew! What a list!.... Now, you must be wondering why I said it was a difficult task. It's because I HAD TO ONLY CHOOSE 5!... There are so many dishes that I miss from my grandma's kitchen. Even more so now that she's left us :( ... I hope to one day master these recipes and perhaps shed the same memories to my kids and/or grandkids.


OK now to do the tagging *grinz*

I will tag....
1. Veron .... She's new to the new blogging community.. hehe so I thought of initiating her to this meme things :D
2. Julian .... 'Cos you'e been nostalgic all these while!
3. Erm... leme think somemore

3 comments:

babe_kl said...

wah u r certainly one lucky gal!!! btw i wan a replica of yr no 1 fave!!!

chrisqck said...

hello!! hello!! just surfacing from the depth of "Silent Reader Sea" to say these words :

bUAH kLUAK rULEZ !!!! :P

the one and only time i got to eat it was the christmas dinner with my landlord's family in singapore. (very nice old couple. the guy is ex-navy). it looks kinda 'ridicilous' at first, especially when you had to 'dig it out' to eat it? but the first mouthful of rice + filling + gravy... i was suddently in Paradise on Earth !!! :P i even got the landlady to promise to cook me a tupperware of it for chinese new year so that i can share it with my family. alas, i resign before CNY and moved back here.. :P these days, for some reasons i can't expain, everytime somebody mention "Peranakan", the 1st thing that comes to mind is the buah kluak dish :P

btw, curious question : how many ways are there to cook buah kluak? :D

ok. now diving back to the depth :P

shookmeallnightlong said...

oit!! no update ah? 1 month already