Browsing Category: Down Memory Lane

Why Is Your Kangkung Like That?

 

I have always loved kangkung (water convolvulus). Even as a kid who hated vegetables, kangkung was the only green veggie I would eat without protest. But I digress.

As you can see, my kangkung stems are split into two. I know, it is rather unusual for many. It was my late grandpa who taught me that by splitting the kangkung stems into halves, it will taste nicer. And he was RIGHT!

No, I didn’t forget as I cut and cooked kangkung on that very day, the same way he taught me many years ago. With just garlic and some salt. Yes, nine years on and I still miss him.

In loving memory of my grandpa who left us on 23/09/2006.

Nyonya Kueh – Tea Time (Or Any Other Time) Favourites

Nyonyas are famous for their kuehs. These are sought after as desserts for any meals, tea time, snack time, weddings and even funerals or wakes. When served at wakes and funerals, the bright colours such as red and yellow will be replaced with a more sombre blue colour, usually derived naturally from “bunga telang” or Butterfly Pea Flower.

As memory might fail me one day down the road, am gonna compile a list of well-loved Nyonya kueh.

*Kueh Genggang*

Blue variety made with “Bunga Telang”.

A good kueh genggang has layers that you can peel one by one. It’s creamy flavour comes from the “santan” or coconut milk, flavoured with “pandan” (screwpine leaves). Some people call this “Kuih Lapis” but not to be confused with the Indonesian Kuih Lapis. Both are layer cakes but the Nyonya variety is steamed layer by layer, while the Indonesian version is baked.

*Ondeh-ondeh*

Lovely, explode-in-your-mouth Ondeh-Ondeh. Photo credits: Debbie Teoh

One of the few that I like as it practically explodes in your mouth with “Gula Melaka” (palm sugar), leaving you in Gula Melaka ecstacy. The white bits covering the pandan green balls are grated coconut flesh. Totally love this with lotsa grated coconut. This is also known as “Buah Melaka.” 

Good Ondeh-ondeh is soft and slightly chewy and the Gula Melaka must be liquefied and has almost like a caramel like taste.

*Kueh Kochi*

Left: Kueh Kochi Putih | Top right: Kueh Kochi Pulut Hitam | Bottom right: Kueh Kochi Pandan Photo credits: candyworldofkitchen.blogspot.com and kwgls.wordpress.com
Beautifully wrapped Kueh Kochi. Photo credits: Debbie Teoh

There are 3 types of Kueh Kochi – the white, the green and the black. The white and green (pandan flavoured) variety are the 2 commonly seen ones while the black skinned one is Kueh Kochi Pulut Hitam (My fav! Yums!!) is less common as the skinned is made from black glutinous rice. The skin should be soft and slightly chewy with the consistency almost like melted mozzarella. The filling is desiccated coconut cooked with “Gula Melaka” and should be moist and. It’s wrapped in banana leaf, giving it an extra lovely aroma. 

*Pulut Seri Kaya*

Beautiful yellow Seri Kaya on the top and “pulut tekan” Loosely translated “compressed glutinious rice”) with “Bunga Telang”. Photo credits: http://janechew.blogspot.my/
Love the blue hues of the “Bunga Telang”. Photo credits: Debbie Teoh

This is has a layer of “kaya” (egg and coconut jam) on the top and “pulut” (steamed glutinous rice) at the bottom. A nice combination of textures and flavours – smooth, creamy “kaya” with soft, chewy slightly saltish “pulut”. Some people may call this “Seri Muka.” I love those traditional Pulut Seri Kaya with pretty blue “Bunga Telang” decorating the pulut.

So pretty! My grandma would approve and say, “Senonoh skali!” which means that it is made beautifully. Nyonyas are known to be particular about how a dish or kueh should look like. Photo credits: Debbie Teoh

*Lepat Kacang*

Love this since I was a kid. Must be my grandma’s influence! 🙂
The combo of desiccated coconut, pulut and black-eyed peas is out of this world! Photo credits: letztravel.blogspot.com

This almost forgotten kueh is made from pulut, grated coconut and black-eyed peas, wrapped in “daun nipah.” The aroma from the leave lends this traditional kueh its flavour. It mainly sweet, coconut-y from the grated coconuts, with a slight hint of saltiness. I love how the slightly mushy peas complements the grated coconut’s creaminess and the slight saltiness of the steamed glutinous rice. One of my favs but pity it’s not easily available in my area. But then again, could be a blessing in disguise that I can’t get it here or I will be eating this all the time. 😀

*Pulut Inti*

This looks like little Nasi Lemak packets. But when you open it, it has grated coconut cooked in “Gula Melaka” on top of blue and white steamed pulut. The fragrance from this kueh comes not only from the coconut and “Gula Melaka” but also from the banana leaf it is wrapped in. Somehow everything with banana leaf tastes and smells good! A good inti is one that is not overpoweringly sweet but has a nice coating of Gula Melaka making the inti somewhat moist, fragrant and sweet.

Can Pulut Inti get any prettier than this? Photo credits: Debbie Teoh
Beautifully done with “Bunga Telang” and a generous amount of “inti” which means “filling”. Droolworthy! Photo credits: Debbie Teoh

*Kueh Talam*

This is one of my top favs as it has both sweet and salty layers. The top layer is the white salty layer while the bottom layer is a fragrant sweet kaya layer. My perfect Kueh Talam should have an equal portion of salty, “lemak”white top layer and a beautiful pandan-scented sweet green bottom layer. It should be soft but not mushy.

Salty + Sweet = Divine!! Photo credits: Debbie Teoh

*Apom Bokwa*

This kueh gets my vote for the kueh with the funniest name. Bokwa is actually the equivalent of the Malay word “berkuah” (loosely translated as “with gravy”)”Apom” or also called “

“Apom” or also called “apam”, is similar to the Indian version of “apam”. Like its Indian cousin, the Nyonya’s “apom” has its signature blue streaks of “Bunga Telang”. The “apom” is made from fermented rice batter, traditionally made with coconut water left to ferment mixed with rice flour, to create that fluffy “apom” texture. A good “apom” will not have a smooth surface but one with many little holes and the cross section of the kueh should look like a honeycomb.

This unique disc-like kueh that is best eaten with its “kuah” (gravy-like dip) that’s made of “Gula Melaka”, bananas, “santan” (coconut milk) and “aromatised” with fresh pandan leaves. I know many Nyonyas prefer to use “Pisang Emas” or “Pisang Raja” to make the kuah as these 2 types of bananas are known to be very sweet and “wangi” (fragrant).

See the pretty blue patterns on the top? The bottom part should have beautiful golden brown patterns. Photo credits: Debbie Teoh
The accompanying dip can make or break this kueh. It must have a natural banana flavour and aroma that complements the pandan and Gula Melaka. Photo credits: Debbie Teoh

I think I’ll stop here for now or my keyboard will be flooded with drool. More on Nyonya kuehs in my next post. Till then, happy eating! 

Where to get these favourites?

*Baba Charlie*
72, Jalan Tengkera Pantai 2C
75200 Melaka
Business hours: 10:30pm – 3pm (closed on Thursdays)
Tel: 019-666 2907 / 06-284 7209

*Debbie Teoh* 
https://www.facebook.com/debbie.teoh
[Debbie takes orders and it is best that you contact her about 1 week ahead.]

A Bowl Of Friendship & Lifetime Of Memories

Have you ever ate something and you suddenly feel as though you were transported to another place and time? This happened to me when I had this. (Please don’t drool on your keyboard!)

At the first taste, I was instantaneously transported back to my Primary School tuckshop (canteen as it was called back in the 70’s). The gravy tasted so much like the Curry Mee we loved in those days. Our canteen Curry Mee didn’t have all the beancurd sheets, taupok (beancurd puff) and long beans but just some noodles, maybe 2 fishballs and fishcake. But it was the curry gravy that got all of us hooked to it. Those of us who like it spicier would add in spoonfuls of watery chilli sauce that was available for us to ladle onto our noodles.

Our little spot of happiness during Primary School was in the form of 30sen Curry Mee and 10sen Nasi Lemak. Life was so much simpler than. We were just contented with these humble food and playing with our little friends during recess. And it is these little friends who have taught me the value and meaning of friendship.

Am glad that this bowl of Curry Mee made me think of them and our friendship that has endured many years, across many seas and countless dramas. 🙂

Cheers to friends of the past, present and future!

P/S: To my primary schoolmates, I wish you guys can try this. Seriously tastes like Canteen Auntie’s Curry Mee.

 

The little “Say NO to sharks fin” advocate

Saying a silent prayer. I wonder what is he praying for
Saying a silent prayer. I wonder what is he praying for

I just love this photo of the little one. Well, not so little now as this was taken about 3 years ago during our first pilgrimage to Kechara Forest Retreat, Bentong.

He has not just grown physically bigger but spiritually too. A strong advocate of anti-finning, he recently fought his urge to have shark’s fin soup at a recent dinner to uphold what he believes in. Believe me, it couldn’t have been an easy thing to do as he loves shark’s fin soup and also given his age. Hey, even adults have problems fighting their own urges.

These days, he is happier slurping his vegetarian shark’s fin soup. After all, it is the soup that’s tasty, not the fins.

How did he become an advocate of anti-finning?

I think he was about 5 or 6 years old when we watched how sharks fins were harvested. That short clip ended with the sharks being thrown back into the ocean, without fins, bleeding and slowly sinking to the bottom of the ocean. The little one, who was at the height of his fascination (and love) for sharks and all sea creatures, said, “The sharks will die, Mommy!! They will die because they have no fins to swim and find food. If they can’t find food, they will die.” The thought of his beloved sharks dying so cruelly broke his little heart. So, I asked him what was he going to do. He said, “I think I will stop eating sharks fin soup. I don’t want the sharks to die.”  There was a moment of slight hesitance as he loves sharks fin soup very much. But after pondering for a few minutes, his love for these creatures and logic won the inner battle.

That didn’t end there. He went up to his father and said with a serious urgency, “Daddy! You have to promise me something.” The hubby was like, “Huh?? Why?” The little one said, “Daddy, you need to stop eating sharks fin soup. You know why? It is so cruel. The fisherman throws them back into the sea after cutting their fins. And the sharks will DIE without their fins because they cannot swim to find food. Promise me, Daddy, that you will not eat any more sharks fin soup.” His passionate plea apparently worked and he got his Daddy to promise to stop.

And then, he went to his older brother who was about 7 or 8 and said more dramatically, “Hayden!! You got to stop eating sharks fin soup! You know, they throw the sharks back into the sea without their fins. They were bleeding and all that. They will DIEEEEE, Hayden! Promise me you will NEVER eat sharks fin again.” This highly dramatic plea worked on the older brother.

That didn’t stop there. When we went back to my parents’ place in Melaka, he went to my Mum and said in serious tone, “Grandma, promise me something.” My Mum was utterly amused by this small tot’s serious tone and looked at me for an explanation. She then said, “Promise what, Sayang*?” He then said in his grave voice, “Grandma, promise me that you will not eat sharks fin soup because the way they are killed is so cruel.” He went on in graphic detail about all the bleeding and finally ending with the dying without fins part. His dramatic plea amused my Mum and he got Grandma to promise too. Happy that he got his Grandma to promise, he went to my Dad to lobby for his cause. My Dad too was amused by this earnest plea. He did not stop there and went on lobbying to my sis and brother too. Hahaha!

This little “anti-finning” advocate has grown into a bigger boy, who is still lobbying for people to stop eating sharks fin, in a less dramatic fashion these days. People say that we can learn from our children. It is true as this little activist taught me to stand up and stick to what I believe in, no matter how hard.

So, people, promise me something. Please stop eating sharks fin soup.

 

*”Sayang” is an affectionate way of calling someone your love and adore. In the Malay language, this means love.

 

 

My grandparents’ legacy

durian

One of the privileges of growing up with my Peranakan grandparents is learning how to appreciate traditional delicacy such as this one – Sambal belacan and durian with rice.

Tonight a slight twist with vegetarian sambal belacan and Tekka. Five stinky digits later, one happy belly and a heartful of lovely memories.

Dedicating this one to the 2 people who left me a treasure trove of childhood memories and helped shape me into who I am today.

In loving memory of Ong Tam Sang (28/08/1920 – 23/09/2008) and Ida Soh Lim Neo (02/10/1922 – 18/07/2016).