Thursday, February 01, 2007

Padang Brown Hawker Food

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

I was feeling rather guilty by the lack of new posts on my blog when everyone knows damn well that I ate like a pig in Malaysia and Indonesia. I have been working nights for the past week and a half (which is good because it eliminates the need to acclimatize back to US time=no jet lag) and am truly exhausted. However, out of guilt and my innate eagerness to please emerges this post that I hope will make all of you salivate...and for those of you who can, head out to Padang Brown for some yummy afternoon snacks.

This particular trip to Padang Brown was brought on by intense hunger, having skipped lunch for a family photo shoot (needed all the help I could get to look thin not look fat). So it was at 4:30pm when I could not take it anymore and begged my dad to accompany me for some light makan. This was done with the full knowledge that we had a dinner plans for a full 8 course Chinese dinner at CRC Restaurant. I know, I am such a pig.

The food "court" consists of about 8 hawker stalls selling a variety of street foods and several metal tables with metal stools. The system goes like this: You go to a stall, tell the hawker what you want (e.g ang tau seng, mai ang tau), where you're sitting and then go back to your table to wait while your food is prepared and brought to you. You then pay the hawker. The process can be repeated at other stalls while you wait for your order to arrive.

We first stopped at a Dim Sum stall. It's not your typical dim sum place where the little dumplings are steamed in wooden baskets and then the cart is wheeled to you for perusal.

We're eating street food here, so the dim sum are dumped willy-nilly in a large metal steamer and portioned out per customer order. Nevertheless, it does not detract from the taste, nor even the aesthetics. I mean, it still looks BEAUTIFUL to me.

Clockwise from top: Fishball, squid-ball, siew mai and har gow. Accompanying the tasty morsels is chilli sauce and sweet sauce (tee cheow).

We also ordered the famous Padang Brown mamak-style popiah. Popiah is a variation of the many types of springrolls found in Asia. This stall used to be run by an old man whom I was informed passed away last year. His daughter in law has taken over the business but she has made no changes to the recipe so the taste of the popiah remains as delicious as ever.

She starts preparing my order by laying down a piece of popiah skin on the wooden board, then smearing it with fragrant date sauce as a base before laying down a trimmed piece of lettuce. Then,2 heaping spoonfuls of stewed filling made with jicama, tiny shrimp, long beans, shallots and garlic are added on top of the lettuce leaf. Next, blanched beansprouts (tauge) and cooked tofu is added to the top and the popiah is rolled up. Finally, she cuts it into bite sized portions and tops the whole dish with more date sauce and gravy from the filling.

I was so starved when this baby arrived that I accidentally ate one before remembering to take a picture. Doesn't that look absolutely scrumptious? I am salivating at the recollection of savoring it.

Then we topped off our gastronomic adventure by ordering some Malay-style prawn fritters, called cucur udang, with an extra order of deep-fried (read unhealthy) beancurd, fishcake, which came accompanied by slices of raw cucumber (in attempt to neutralize the deep frying?)

The uncle, spurred into action by the presence of my camera sportingly demonstrated how the prawn fritters are made.

Basically, blanched beansprouts and pre-cooked small shrimp are placed in a small, shallow, metal ladle and then white colored batter is spooned onto the ladle. The while ladle is slowly lowered into a pot of boiling oil and the cooking process detaches the fritter from the ladle. The fritter is then turned so it cooks evenly into a golden brown color and is fished out and set to drain on a wire rack.

When semi cooled, the fritter is cut up into pieces by the uncle's wife and served with a kickass garlic based, sweet chili sauce.

Here's a closer look below.

Mmmmm........brings back all kinds of fond memories. They say that a family that eats together stays together, don't they?

I am still wondering how my light afternoon snack, intended to tide me over until dinner evolved into an eating spree. Thanks dad, for sacrificing your stomach space to accompany me on this eating session :) We still did good during dinner, didn't we?


Mischique said...

wow..found a true penang glutton :P

you have a very comprehensive penang 'food directory' lol

TrueBluePenangite said...

Thanks Mischigue! I truly love Penang food and I am proud to be its ambassador. When was the last time you went back to Penang? I have been home 3 weeks and I miss it like crazy.

Anonymous said...

Less talk... eat more!!