when I grew up in brown country malaysia
even as a brown individual – I was smelly
I wasn’t sure what I smelt of, but that was
still the case.
I am not a fighter. I was a hermit.
When I moved to my first new york city
dorm – a very white person had the priviledge
to declare – what the hell is that stink -
when I was in the kitchen over the stove…
heating cambell’s tomate soup..yeah
I still don’t know what to make of
that other then the bitch was a nazi.
Again, I am not a fighter , I am a mover.
when I moved in with my cousin that
was raised in Buffalo , who was
half culturally ‘malaysian’ and
half culturally ‘indian’ he always made
a big fuss about me cooking fish.
He hated the smell and would constantly
tease me for being…something else.
I am not a fighter , I am a passive-player.
Then I moved to brooklyn .
And I never stopped cooking,
I cooked whatever the fuck I wanted to.
I had a circle of people
that loved food, loved adventure
loved other cultures. I still
was a pariah of sorts, but
now I was one that cooked
a good sambal now and then.
I am not a fighter, I am a lover.
and Watching Eddie Huang was a great revelation and I loved it.
Let’s do this.
A few things have come across my table
emotionally + philosophically in the last few years
and Eddie Huang kinda articulated it in the best way possible.
The short version of what I am saying is that – know that it your food
was a sacrifice KNOW and that a life was ended for it and often most cruelly. Just be respectful,
Thoughtful and human about it. Don’t waste it and don’t insist that you need it every fucking day.
I KNOW that I can’t handle certain things on my plate
namely LAMB, VEAL, COW, GOAT, RABBIT and definitely not HORSE.
And I love most lamb really and in and out burgers and biryani which is traditionally made
with a gamey meat like mutton but in the last 5 years or so I have not been able
to bring myself to partake . See I love Biology, really really love it. And it occurred to me
one day that the bond between a youngling and her mother is so instinctual and natural
that when separated the suffering cause is very similar to any form of
loss and suffering we as human beings will suffer – JUST the idea of this,
knowing full well that biologically the workings of most chemicals during
the birth and post birth processes is exactly similar to that of a human
it broke me. Just the possibility of such a thing broke me. The slaughtering
of lambs or any animal – they resist it, they protest – it is obvious they
do not want death, nor do we. Plants hardly react this way.
Perhaps this is the way of life – but the modern equivalent to the food chain
and slaughter houses just to produce ‘economies of scale’ is beyond horrific
beyond comprehension, beyond my emotional being to handle.
Having said all this, I may be marginally more emotional and thoughtful about
things that happen to be on my plate – this is hardly a common thread in civil
society – and I don’t expect to be a fascist about it. Everyone in my family ( except my
grandmother and mother ) eat meat. I think it is fine as long as you respect
the product, know that it was a sacrifice and not waste it. I think
to eat meat once in awhile , on special occasions would be best
in a civil society. And if we have to get ride of mass production and mass slaughter
better. Expensive meat is what meat should be. It shouldn’t be cheap and forgettable.
It should be pricey and induce an effect of honour and cherish. And the
odd bits of meat – fucking hell learn how to cook them cause if you can eat
the breasts you can eat the liver .
There was nothing that horrified me more about the American Palate
when I moved to the South Bay – granted most of these palate’s I am talking
about are from middle america and not actually from the southern coast -
still, their insistence on JUST a particular cut, just a particular colour meat
…fucking nazi’s… and I won’t even tell you about the time I actually made
chicken curry with chicken that had bones. It seems their chicken don’t
Bastards know not how to respect FOOD.
I am malaysian.
that simply means that I was born in malaysia and grew up eating malaysian food.
This is where it gets complicated and when things get complicated … well fuck it.
This isn’t a blog about cultural identities or displacement . It’s about food.
There is a quintessential dish that springs from malaysia. The Sambal.
This basic sauce has been the hardest thing for me to perfect ..until now.
I have found the perfect Dried Chilli and learnt all the essentials along the way.
It wasn’t pretty – but it is now something I can whip up whenever I feel like it and
it’ll always be fucking fabulous.
You can make sambal with
-Whole boiled eggs
So Here’s how you do it.
First you have to ( HAVE TO ) find a dried chilli variety in your region that isn’t too spicy.
Note: The bigger the body of the chilli, chances are that it won’t be too spicy.
Deseed these mothafuckers and boil them in water for about 8 minutes or till soft and pliable.
The other essentials is the basic trinity of most asian delights, Shallots, Ginger, Galangga ( if you don’t have this, don’t fret, skip it)
You’ll also need Tamarind ( which you will either come in a paste form or in au-natural pods, either way add hot water to the mixture and you’ve got your liquid gold)
Palm Sugar ( or any sugar really ) and you are about half way home.
The other particularly malaysian ingredient is Belacan, which is a fermented Shrimp paste which I reckon works
a lot like anchovies in a puttanesca sauce. It gives it dimension/depth.A centimeter of this stuff fried with your blended ingredients is how it goes.
If you are a vegetarian or if you can’t find this
ingredient I wouldn’t worry to much about it. Just go forth and sambal on.
You will blend the chilli’s + shallots + galangal + belacan.
You will fry this mixture in hot oil for about 5 minutes or until you see it change it’s hue.
The Secret is to really fry the blended paste till the oil separates from the mix and it deepens and darken in colour.
Make sure you take a bite every now and then – if it’s super spicy, don’t freak out , just add a tablespoon of sugar to the mixture
and make a not that the chilli’s you used might not be perfect for this sort of dish.
This will take awhile + it will also need quite a bit of oil.
Tamarind paste will go in after you add your pre fried aubergine or tofu or
fresh prawns or hard boiled eggs. Cook this till most of the liquid has evaporated.