Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Taste of Nostalgia

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.—Brillat-Savarin

My latest obsession is reading food blogs. It started with a blog that I accidentally stumbled upon while looking for a Malaysian recipe online. Soon, I was completely hooked. I was spending more and more time looking into the lives of other people, not through their eyes, but rather through their stomaches. Living in the Midwest is great but I really missed Malaysian food. Reading Malaysian food blogs made me feel closer to home, especially when the writers are from Penang. After weeks of staring at other people's food blogs, the boyfriend (who henceforth, shall be referred to as "the bf") suggested that I start my own, since I liked food so much. I deliberated for a while and the thought, "Why not?" I eat, I cook, might as well write about it. After all, the Malaysian goverment is trying to promote Malaysia through it's food.

My problem with starting my blogs stemmed from the fact that I could not ever remember to take pictures before digging in. Oftentimes, I would be three-quarters way into a meal when I suddenly remembered, "Alamak! Forgot to take pictures for my blog."

Thus today I am so proud that I actually have pictures of 2 dishes I made. I was overcome by a sense of nostalgia when I read this blog about tau yew bak that I actually called my mother in Malaysia and asked her for the recipe. Now, my mother is an awesome cook. The problem was, when asked how to cook a dish, she tells you, "Hah, tumi the garlic and then add light soy sauce and dark soy sauce.." Ok, mom, how much of each ingredients? "Eh, you agak-agak lah"

Not helpful. Yet, today, I managed to make tau yew bak and bang-kuang char. Incidentally, bang-kuang is called jicama in the US. This is pronounced 'hee-kam-mah'. Spanish what.

Mom told me to use hae-bee (dried prawns) and jew-hoo (dried cuttlefish) for the bang-kuang char but I could find any so I used ......drumroll....dried scallops instead. Oohh, the decadence. Here are pics:

Soaking the dried scallops

Cutting veges for bang-kuang char

Julienned vegetable-whew, hard work

When I started to cook this, I didn't know it would take more than one hour!

Starting to cook tau yew bak

Final products

Lessons learned during this cooking session:

  1. Never start a dish that that takes two hours to cook when your bf is hungry, much less two.
  2. If you attempt No. 1, make sure you have something to feed the hungry bf (I had tamales)
  3. The secret to good bang-kuang char is julienningthe veges thinly. My dad exclaimed when he saw a pic of the final product, "Aiyoh, why your veges so chor-loh wan?" My first time make this dish mah!
  4. You can never make food that tastes as good as your mother or grandmother's.
  5. It is also cheaper to go out and tar-pow food than to buy individual ingredients to cook at home. It's true, mom, I swear.
  6. The taste of success is sweet. The bf gave the 2 dishes his seal of approval :) And that is the best reward of all.

1 comment:

misery said...

isn't that jiu hu char?? I was wondering wat on earth bang kuang char was. You should get a mandolin. I used it the last time I made it. soooo much faster and efficient ;)

And yes..there's nothing like the sweet success of someone asking for seconds of your dish :)