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Archive for April, 2007

Soya Sauce Chicken

This one remains a regular standard in our home till today. In the past, it was usually served together with thin yellow noodles tossed in sesame oil and garnished with spring onions. The chicken would be presented whole on a platter, chopped into manageable parts, and the noodles on a separate serving dish.

Soya Sauce Chicken

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Chilli Sauce

Whoever cooks this will have to figure out how much ’30 cts red chillies’ refers to! In newspapers of the 1930s, I’ve seen daily lists of prices of basic commodities, so perhaps that might give a clue. I don’t know if newspapers of the late 1950s/1960s carried the same information.

This recipe has been consulted and revised at different times, firstly indicated by the change in quantity of sugar (blue pencil used to write ‘4’ on top of the original ‘6’ Tbsp) and secondly by the modern, red ballpoint pen used to underline the title for emphasis (as compared to the fountain pen running low on blue ink originally used to write the recipe).
Chilli Sauce

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A very popular Nonya standard, which is reflected here by the folded bottom right-hand corner to bookmark the page! It’s also one of my all-time favourite dishes.

Notice how grandmother has added the local term ‘buah keluak’ to the original ‘opium-fruit’, and changed the chicken to pork. This in a more shaky hand and ball-point pen indicating that it was done much later than the original writing (which used fountain pen), perhaps in the last few years?

The mysterious sak-luk makes another appearance. [NB: See answer on ‘Unfamiliar Ingredients’ page.]

Once again, you’ll have to ‘agak-agak‘ your own quantities – good luck!

Buah Keluak curry

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Penang Curry Fish

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Another dish I’ve not tried before. Can anyone shed light on the etymological background of the word ‘pajis’?

And the unfamiliar sak luk makes another appearance here, this time spelt sak lut. Or am I confusing two completely different ingredients? If you have any ideas, please leave a comment :). [NB: See answer on ‘Unfamiliar Ingredients’ page.]

Babi Pajis

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I’m not sure what Mesak Lada is, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten it before. Looks like a kind of rempah with pepper (lada) instead of chillies -? I’m not sure what the ingredient ‘Sak Luk’ is either. Please leave a comment if you know :)! [NB: See answer on ‘Unfamiliar Ingredients’ page.]

Kunyit is Malay for ‘tumeric’, and Nam Keong is Cantonese for ‘blue ginger’ or rather, galangal also known as lengkuas in Malay. This is a difficult recipe to follow, no quantities to help us out.

Mesak Lada

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Custard Sauce

After enjoying your roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and a side salad, how about a dessert using custard sauce?

The ingredient here that caught my eye was ‘Spry’. Quick internet research revealed that Spry was an American brand of vegetable shortening introduced by Lever Brothers around the 1940s (although I have found Spry pictured in ‘The 1930s Scrapbook’) and is no longer produced. Its closest competitor was Crisco, which we can still buy today.

My grandmother taught me that the secret to successful shortcrust pastry was to use half butter and half Crisco. Have a look at grandma’s Crisco Pastry recipe (including more notes on Crisco history). What was a new innovation in food technology in grandmother’s time is however very much out of fashion these days because of new scientific knowledge.

Crisco, being a type of hydrogenated vegetable oil with four grams of trans fats per tablespoon, was in trouble when information about the health risks of trans fats emerged. As a result, in January 2007, Crisco was reformulated to contain ‘zero trans fats per serving’ (read the press release). Do note that zero grams ‘per serving’ doesn’t mean no trans fats whatsoever; as this Associated Press news report reminds us, “U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows any product with less than 0.5 grams trans fat per serving to list zero grams trans fat”.

These wonderful pictures (front & back) of a cookbook put out by Spry really give a flavour of those times – ‘thrifty and healthful’. Well, it was also the era when Capstan cigarettes were advertised with pictures of athletic swimmers :).

Custard Sauce

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