Kampungkayell

Food, life, and fun in my "kampung,"(village), KL (Kuala Lumpur). Did I mention "food?"

Tagged - my favourite food.

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

More than a month ago, I was tagged. Wmw decided to "tap me on the shoulder," figuratively speaking of course, and "encourage" me to write about my favourite food. Wmw, I'm sorry it's taken this long, but I guess, better late than never.

Now, if you know me, you know I live to eat. There's something about good food that makes my blood course more easily through my veins and my thoughts to move more easily through my mind. Though, sadly, that will have to be modified somewhat. I just got my bloodwork back and my cholesterol has gone up. Sigh! Must. Be. Positive.

mustbepositivemustbepositivemustbepositivemustbepositivemustbepositive.

In any case, that's not going to stop me from enjoying my life. It's always been a particular tenet of mine that when you're handed lemons, make lemonade!

Back to the food.

Food is the most glorious thing on earth. It's one addiction I can live with. All this psychobabble about being addicted to food and how it could kill you is just that...psychobabble. I thoroughly agree that one has to watch one's health. But one also has to stop and smell the roses. And food is such a glorious red rose. As long as you're mindful of it's thorns, you could carress it, inhale it's fragrance, and enjoy it for a long time.

How do I choose my favourite food without betraying every other dish I have had an affair with? Roast Pork with crackling? Babi Guling from Bali? Gorgeous Maguro? Sweet, sweet, ama ebi? Even century egg with lashings of pickled ginger. How could I say you weren't at one point, my favourite? Laksa Lemak? Prawn Mee? Wagyu Beef in any combination? Roast Chicken with a flavoured butter rubbed UNDER the skin so that the skin is crisp? Panna Cotta? Creme Caramel? Currydevilsemurtriflesaltbeefwithasideofpicklesalttongueroastlambwith
mintsaucebuahkluakwithribs?WHITE RICE WITH ALL OF THE ABOVE?

Where oh where do I begin?

Finally I decided that my favourite food needs to be one which I could eat EVERY DAY and not be tired. Whether or not I bloat up to the proverbial blimp (blimpier than now at any rate) or my blood cholesterol shoots through the roof is besides the point. The point was, could I eat it every day and still be clamouring for more?

And so, that brings me to my favourite food of all time; TA DAH...CHAR KWAY TEOW.

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At it's best, Char Kway Teow is an analogy for the best that our country has to offer. A diverse palate, great ingredients, a coming together of all different colours (the white of bean sprouts to the blood red of "see hum" and the vibrant green of chives) in a well mixed dish. All seasoned with generous helpings of an ingredient which isn't even local; fish sauce. Some also add "larp cheong" or chinese sausages and of course the ubiquitous prawns. Large and small.

It's never the same when it's fried at home because we don't have those huge bunsen burners that they use to fry it with in coffee shops. That level of heat can only be generated if you have one of those huge fires. The flame itself should be an intense blue and not an insipid yellow. The wok needs to be flaming hot and, preferably, still coated with the oil of the last fry. The first wisps of smoke should be rising from the oil and you should see the mirage shimmer in the oil before things start to be added.

Then everything goes in post haste. Garlic first. Smell the aroma. Inhale that nutty sweetness that is released only when the garlic cosies up to heat.

Sambal Belacan next. Everything becomes more intense as the heat transforms the chilli into an almost heavenly choking, clawing it's way up your nostrils.

At this point, prawns are tossed in, which, in a second or two metamorphose into a shade of coral akin to the most beautiful gemstones. Bean sprouts, flat noodles or kway teow (or as the hongkies would say "hor fun" - never say kway teow in Hong Kong) and chives are then thrown in. The mixture is pushed to the cooler part of the wok and another ladlefull of oil is whipped over into the wok and allowed to shimmer. An egg is cracked in complete with sizzle and it is dry fried for a bit before everything is combined and with a final flourish, seasonings are applied. Sometimes soy sauce, sometimes fish sauce. Lots of pepper.

And just before everything get's plated the blood red mussels are mixed into the melange where residual heat cooks them...barely.

All this is pushed onto a plate. At the "best" coffee shops it is almost frisbeed accross to you. You can already savour it on your tongue. That almost unctuous, rich, flavour redolent of every seafood combination that you've ever experienced, tempered by the crunch of the bean sprouts and the warm herb garlic bite of scallions. If the "see hum" is not cooked through (like some people like it) you can taste the meaty rust of the undercooked blood rising to the back of your palate. A tinge of bitterness that contrasts beautifully with the glorious richness of the rest of the flavours.

Which is why I feel it's the perfect analogy for our young country. All of us were pushed together onto a plate with hardly a choice. Coming from North, South, East and West. Each ingredient adding to our richness and at our best, we are exactly like a plate of Char Kway Teow. A rich, hearty, melange of flavours. Equally at home in the best restaurants and best tables in any part of the world. With nothing in our hearts but to be a filling lunch or to brighten someones day through their tastebuds.

No one flavour jostling anyone out of the mix and each contributing to the larger whole. Without one, the flavours wouldn't be quite so complete nor would they be as interesting.

All this begs the question. Why oh why, can't we just be more like a plate of Char Kway Teow?

The Following text is copied

Proposition: What is your favorite food in your state or country? Requirements: Find some info about the food and show delicious pictures of it. Quantity: FIVE PEOPLE. Tag Mode: You leave their blog and post link and add to the list below.

Mybabybay loves Asam Laksa from Penang, Malaysia

JustMyThoughts loves Penang Char Koay Teow

My Lil Venture loves Laksa Sarawak

Monterssorimum loves Teluk Intan Chee Cheong Fun

Chinnee loves Melaka Wan Tan Mee

PeimunLeah loves Hakka Lei Cha

Hui Sia

Jonamum

Karen loves Pan Mee

Something about Lai loves Crispy duck skin from China

Simple American loves Cheese Enchiladas

Nicole Tan loves Char Tau Kueh

Velverse loves Otak-otak

Kenny Ng loves Jawa Mee

Fatty Poh loves Nasi Dagang Kelantan

wmw loves Kuih Tutu.

Nigel loves Char Kway Teow


I tag the following 5;

unkaleong

jaded poetry
msiagirl
book of John
jhobar

5 Comments

Alamak...kena tag pulak :P

The mind boggles at how you managed to whittle them down to only one! I love them all!

Start everyday with bittergourd (small type) juice neat to bring down cholestrol. That's what I've been told. Yes, yucky stuff. No, I have not tried. Ewws. I can't even take stir-fried savoury ones.
Char koay teow? Quite tired of it d. Too much good ones during growing up years. *give a Penangite snob look* then run to hide.

unka; yup :-) next time pinch your...never mind! ;P

savante; Now you see the problems I had? ;-)

Tummy; yeah I heard that as well. I will try that since my Dad's already on it. Ahh One PERSON's meat is another person's poison...I don't think I could ever have enough of char kway teow. ;-)

Better late than never! ;o)

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