Sunday, December 9, 2012

What I Miss...

I've been in the States for two years. While I've learned to appreciate a lot of American cuisines, especially Southern cooking, there's not a day when I don't crave some of my favorite Malaysian meals.

Ask any Malaysian living abroad if they miss the food back home, and they'll start saying things like, "If I could teleport home right now for the food, I would."

It doesn't help that my Malaysian mates are constantly flooding the social networking sites with delicious Malaysian cuisines. And with the vast time difference, I always happen to be viewing photos of their breakfasts and lunches when it's late at night over here. I'll be prepping for bed and scrolling through my timeline, when photographs of mouthwatering meals start appearing on the screen. What a bad time to be hungry.

This post is dedicated to some of the Malaysian meals I've missed for a long, long time.

This is currently the top dish on my list. I've missed it so much. Kway Teow is a type of rice noodle with a broad, flat texture. This dish consists of stir-fried noodles with soy sauce sauce, bean sprouts, shrimps, eggs and the optional cockles, chives and the Chinese sausage known as the Lap Chang. The sausage, dried and pink, creates a sweet flavor above the saltiness. Chili is optional. Best served hot.

Tom Yam Fried Rice

Oh my gosh. I'm torturing myself with all these pictures from the past. The tom yam fried rice is actually a Thai-inspired dish, but plenty of Malaysian restaurants have adapted it into their menus. It's basically rice fried in a tom yam paste or mix, garnished with chicken or shrimps, spring onions, onions, eggs and minced garlic. The spiciness varies depending on your preference. It's heavier on the salt than it is on the spices. The sweet-sour Tom Yam flavor is distinct but not overpowering because the other ingredients balance the overall taste.

Won Ton soup

Won Ton soup is healthy because it's boiled with vegetables in chicken broth and sesame oil. There's something soothing about supple won tons floating in steaming bowl of warm, tasty soup. Won Ton is a Chinese dumpling, often containing ground and vegetables wrapped in a flour skin. Won Tons can be cooked in various ways - deep fried, pan-fried, boiled or steamed. 

If you haven't noticed, I'm a big fan of fried food. Fried Asam Laksa is derived from the original asam laksa, a spicy noodle soup. The fried version comprises a collection of fragrant and flavored ingredients that will tantalize your tastebuds. The Asam paste adds a sour tang to the thick, sticky noodles and the red chili bits spice up the dish. Lime is often squeezed over the noodles for that extra sour taste, which blends perfectly with the rest of the ingredients. Throw in an egg, onions and fresh shrimps, and the serving is complete.

Egg custard tarts

After four hearty appetizers, we should end with dessert. Egg custard tarts (known as dan tart in Cantonese) originated from Hong Kong and made their way across the globe. The outer crust is loaded with creamy egg custard and placed in the oven to be baked. The brittle crust breaks easily, giving way to the smooth, pudding-like texture of the egg tart. Unlike English tarts, these egg tarts do not contain milk in them.

I live in Conway, a university town in central Arkansas. The few Chinese restaurants here are catered to the Southern tastebuds, so most of their dishes lack the Asian authenticity I was accustomed to. 

Malaysian food is generally rich in color and taste. Because of its cultural diversity, it's known for the multiple cultural cuisines such as the roti canai, nasi lemak and the mee goreng. But more on that another time. Stay tuned!

PS: Writing this really made me crave a taste of home.

Photographed and written by Carissa Gan.

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