There was a time that I was the self-proclaimed 'food snob'. Growing up, we've always had soups and masak kicap, fried chicken and quick & easy stir-fry meals. Basically mild and bland foods. Konon tekak mat saleh. Occasionally we'll have curry to cater to my younger bro's appetite. Even if there are other dishes on the table, I won't touch them and would only go for my safe and comfort food. Sounds like a normal kid lah kan?
That was when I was growing up. Food at our Dewan Makan (DM) during my boarding school years was an eye opening experience. I had to eat fish called ikan jaket! and tofu! and shrimps! Sources of protein that I never liked or allergic to. I had to eat dishes I'll never touch if I were at home like pajeri, sambal, masak merah, pecal dan macam-macam lagilah. Have to eat lor, if not starving lor. But I adapted.
After kawin, nak makan apa? Due to my limited food preferences, I wasn't the kind who gets motivated in the kitchen. I'm not known for my domestic skills. at all I only knew how to make vege dishes and masak sup and kicap. I'm only good at steaming food. Kalau goreng, gerenti hangit. Husband's a food snob too in his own right, whereby only his and mother's (and occasionally mamak's) cooking is the best. MIL is an accomplished cook and very particular about her food, no doubt about that (the only curry I eat is hers). I lived only one door down from her, but I rarely had the chance to learn to cook from her since I worked 6 days a week. Not long after that, I got pregnant. Cannot tahan the kitchen smell for too long. Kerja dok melantak lauk MIL je la. Stress or not? How to COOOKKKK???
After moving away from the comforts of MIlL's food to this kampung, I kinda gave up on cooking. Blame it on my lackadaisical attitude, but nobody wants to eat my food anyway. Sometimes my Tok would cook simple dishes for herself and there's plenty to share with me. My aunt drops by all the time and gives me more food. The lauk pauk that are sold at a nearby restaurant are so cheap. Ayam goreng is only RM1. Therefore I rarely cook. I only cook to get by, feeding myself and Nunu. Nunu wasn't fussy. She likes my food. She likes pastas and soups and stir-fried all in one dishes.
But now, *sobs* Nunu dah pandai. Nunu nak tomyam. Nunu nak makan assam pedas. Nak yang Mama masak.
There. Mama masak. This dish really is ass-kicking marvelous. The sort yang tak malu nak bagi mak mentua makan. Don't play-play. First time I heard of ikan seludu though, recommended by the abang fish-monger. This recipe was from my Singaporen friend, Trin. If it wasn't for Trin's husband, I don't think I'll ever learn how to make this. So I owe a lot to these two people.
- a few pieces of ikan, best are stingray (pari) or tenggiri, but I had only ikan seludu
- 5-7 lady fingers
- 1 large tomatoes (cut into 6)
- 1/2 cup tamarind juice (asam jawa)
- a stalk of bunga kantan and some daun kesum
- 4 tbs cooking oil
- 1 stalk of lemon grass (bruised)
- salt and sugar to taste
- 20 dry chillies *
- 2 large onions *
- 3-4 pcs garlic *
- 2 cm ginger *
- 2 cm tumeric *
- toasted shrimp paste (belachan) *
- 3 cups water
* Grind to a paste
- Heat oil and saute grounded ingredients and lemongrass until fragrant.
- Add stingray, tamarind juice and water. Let it boil and stir regularly.
- Add tomato, daun kesum, bunga kantan and lady fingers. Add salt to taste.
- Lower heat and let it simmer until vegetables are cooked.
- Serve hot with rice.
So, moral of the story is, yes, I've always had it in me. I'll only have to keep cooking more frequently from now on. And yes, the main reason for posting this is to gloat. Oooh come on, can't a woman be proud of herself once in a while? Bukan ada orang puji pun, so angkat bakul sendirilah!