Friday, April 22, 2005

Food Food Food

Since the previous post provoked some response about asam laksa, I will continue on with the subject. It appears that food sells; or are we just a collection of wai sek people who happened to coalesced together and condensed into a network of friends?

If I need to explain asam laksa to you, this portion will probably be irrelevant to you. Do skip down a few paragraphs to see if I’ve got other topics for you.

Also, if you might be suffering from pangs of laksa-sickness, please jump ahead. (Laksa-sickness is an illness brought on by a lack of laksa. Similar to being homesick.) Myself, while I really love laksa, I don’t have a craving for it when the good ones are not available. Hence, I can write all I want about it, without the usual jitters and gnawing of teeth associated with withdrawal.

What’s so brilliant about this particular stall’s laksa? Apart from the soup, it’s the generous servings of vegetables. Lettuce shreds, grated cucumber and onion slices give different degrees of crunchiness and sense of being. Topped by a large sprinkling of chopped bunga kantan. To attempt to describe the aroma and flavour of bunga kantan here would only serve to make bunga kantan and myself look like idiots. Bunga kantan is a surprisingly expensive commodity. Each bloom costs about RM0.30 to RM0.50 (correct me), and its yield is nothing magnificent.

While not being apparent at first glance, the varied tactile sensations afforded by the vegetables plays an important part in making (or spilling) a brilliant laksa. When we (my cousins, ob!ique and myself) tapau-ed about 30 packets, the trader repeatedly stressed that the vegetables should NOT be put near the hot soup as they would get cooked and soft.

The fish based soup is a complicated mixture of different spices and herbs. The fish is flaked into tiny particles and left as a sort of suspension in the soup liquid. There has been unfounded rumours that they use tissue paper as filler material instead of using fish. It is impossible to tell if the fine particles are tissue paper or fish. At first, I was worried. Two mouthfuls of bulk filler/fish later, I decided not to care and treat it as fish. It was delicious

As Vic succinctly expressed it, “Life is short, and tissue [paper] is relatively harmless.”

I think I’ll stop on this positive note.

By the way, if you had jumped ahead from previous paragraphs, there are no more topics for today. Come back tomorrow.