Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Home food: leftovers, kiam chai teng and keropok

I visited my parents last night, but unfortunately Mum was working the afternoon shift, and wouldn't be back till 9.30pm. So I did my usual thing of giving Dad a hug and then letting him get back to watching TV, chatting to my brother, and my favourite part, exploring the fridge for leftovers - woohoo!

Here is what I ate last night (and I apologise for the lack of photos but I'd forgotten to bring the camera along):

I started with chai poh omelette*, chicken cooked in ABC (sweetened dark soy) sauce and some rice on the side. At this point Dad shuffled into the kitchen (must've been an ad break) and said, "There's some kiam chai teng** with roast duck on the stove! Very nice!"

So of course I had to have a bowl of that as well. My brother wandered into the kitchen from his room and added his commentary: "Mum and Dad got a roast duck yesterday but it was tough so Mum made it into soup."

The soup was basically kiam chai, a couple of tomatoes and chopped up roast duck from the Chinese restaurant at the local shops, but as usual, my mother made it into gustatory poetry. It's a sourish soup, with the sourness of the kiam chai perfectly balancing the sourness of the tomato (which also adds a nice colour), and lots of duck meat to chew on. Duck is quite a fatty meat, so you have to skim some of the fat off the top of the soup.

I then noticed a large container of, oh sweet Molly Brown, could it be? Yes! Keropok! I'd had an inexplicable craving for this on Sunday, and lo and behold, it turns up at my parents' house. Creepy.

Apparently one of my cousins had been in town for a day (he works for an airline) and delivered some goodies to my parents from my auntie. Mum then fried them up into delicious expanded crispy goodness. Until I post a picture, please visit to see what I'm talking about.

Keropok is Malay for prawn crackers, but unlike the ones you find at Asian restaurants, all gluten with a hint of prawn, keropok from my the country I grew up in is made from actual ground up prawns. It's a little thicker and crunchier, and more, I'm not sure how to describe's like the prawn crackers in restaurants are shadows of keropok, or perhaps they used to be keropok before they died and became tasteless prawn cracker corpses. I even like the name, it sounds so crispy. It's also a different colour, white with a pink border. If I have time I'll add a picture to this post showing you what I mean*****.

In the same container were some keropok I hadn't seen before, they were yellow and a little unevenly bulgy on the surface. Nice though, more of a dessert keropok as they were a little sweet with a hint of bitterness. They tasted like the blinjo*** crackers form the Chinese supermarket, but without the sticky caramel sauce. There weren't that many left in the container, but greed was quickly overpowering any of my civilised tendencies...

"That's OK," said my brother with a generous gesture. "You finish it."
"Is there any more?"
"Yeah, Mum made three containers worth."
"Where are they?"
"I finished one..." he said sheepishly.
"OK...that leaves one more..."
"She hid it."

Darnit! My mother, no doubt because her children are the comfort eating champions of the world, is the food hiding champion of the world. I gave up the last container of keropok as lost (until next week). Luckily I knew where Mum hid the chocolates she got from work****.

But only because she told me.

* To find out what chai poh is, see this post.
** kiam chai = salted cabbage, teng is Hokkien for "soup".
*** blinjo is a kind of seed that grows on a small tree (gnetum gnemon), it is mainly imported from Indonesia.
****grateful hospital patients = many many many boxes of chocolate.
*****re-edited this post 10/07/2006 to add picture.