Many years ago, when I was living in Malaysia, I bought this lovely book:
As I never cook Nyonya food normally at home, I had to go out and buy all the ingredients needed to make the dish.I was fearful when I was cooking the dish: I had invested so much money and time into it, and I wasn’t sure if my family will like it.
So needless to say, though it was stunning, it wasn’t really from my heart…..I cook these dishes for dinner parties and they always impress.
Today, I tasted some food from the heart. I have a helper from Mynamar, who comes over and cleans my house several times a week. She often brings her little lad along, and I must admit, I have a soft spot for the little lad.
This is because my children’s father was like the little lad: my late mother-in-law had been a cleaner too, and my children’s father had accompanied his mother on her cleaning jobs. He still remembers with fondness the nuns who used to spoil him whenever he went to the convent with his mother.
I would often make this little lad his lunch. And over the two year period, I learned that he doesn’t like cheese sandwich but eats boiled eggs. He loves tomato ketchup and chocolates. And he gives me hugs.
Today, his mother brought lunch for us to share: a big mound of white rice, pickled vegetables and this strange-looking fish. Not being a fan of spicy, strongly flavoured food, I took a cautious bite.
OMG, it’s so good! It’s crunchy and flavoursome, not at all spicy, and it tastes a lot like crisps but with a deep, natural flavour. Even the head is not gross (I know, unbelievable).
I rushed off to photograph it, much to the amusement of mother and son.
“Oh madam!” My helper laughed.
“What is it?” I asked. “What fish is it?”
She was a bit embarrassed. “Cheap, cheap,” she said, flushing.
Then she explained, she bought the fish bones from a local restaurant, after the flesh has been filleted out for restaurant food. She marinates the fish bones and fried them until crunchy.
Simple food at its best, far tastier than some expensive food I’ve eaten ❤