I love Ubi!

There, I said it before and I’ll say it again.

But this time, I’m professing my love for the Kerupuk Ubi that I used to have as a kid, which only just last week re-emerged in my life.

As a little boy, I used to look forward to the trip to the filling station in Keriam, because they sold this kerupuk that was made by a poor single-mother with many children, so it became their source of income. But as a kid, such humanitarian sentiments were very much absent from my mind, although I was aware of that story behind it.

The kerupuk ubi was interesting to me because it looked like crumpled A4 sheets of paper that had been ironed out, but its clean taste of ubi kayu was unmistakeable.

So imagine my glee when I came across this old friend again after our long estrangement.

I don’t think these were made my the same old lady whose air tangan it was that I loved so much. But these were just as satisfying, bringing back that old ubi kayu umami I’d been missing. I wonder if that was made possible by the fact that the kerupuk was concocted simply out of ubi kisar, salt, chili, and some flour and then fried. I don’t know if that’s actually the process or recipe, but my point is that, the simplicity of ingredients has made the taste recognizable, no matter who made it. And the same goes for the other ‘simple foods’ that have endured time.

Just hope that old lady lived a happy life since I last saw her carrying her basket at the station.

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Creativity? Or simply bananas?

My abang took me out for minum patang at the coffee-house di ujung kampung yesterday – a place I do not visit too frequently, mainly because that’s the usual haunt of some old retired teachers convinced they still look cool riding their pretend-Harley Davidsons in their stinky fake leather jackets, fist-bumping each other away. I’m sure all the girls go weak in the knees seeing their turkey necks flap around in the wind like that.

But there I was yesterday, and my abang said the cucur pisang was really good there. So, seeing I had no pride left just from being there, I agreed to ordering two portions.

As soon as the orders arrived, two things immediately sprang to mind:

First, each portion was really just a small banana sliced lengthwise into five pieces, dipped in batter, deep-fried and sold for $2.50.

Second, why the fook is there grated cheese on my cucur pisang??

I’m all for culinary creativity and improvisations, but this really takes the biscuit for me.

I’d not yet recovered from the mild shock of being served a re-packaged banana for $2.50, and there I was having to grapple with another conceptual conundrum.

Anyway I gave it a go and here’s my verdict: As far as cucur pisang goes, it was nice and crispy though the banana would have been nicer if it was just little bit more ripe. But I couldn’t get my head around the cheese thing. It didn’t improve the taste of the not-sweet-enough pisang, instead made it rather savoury for my liking.

It makes you wonder though if certain restaurants are over-stretching their creative brain cells, or if it’s an attempt to appear “up-market” by adding a Western-derived ingredient, hence giving them an excuse to charge you a lot for what really amounts to just a tiny banana?

I know, I know, it’s just cucur pisang- STFU and just eat it for God’s sakes! But maybe I’m just displacing my “annoyance” at the geriatric HOG-wannabes on to the innocent banana. Kesian eh pisang.

The Midnight Ulam

How’s this for a midnight snack??

Staggered back home very late past midnight last night after a 2-hour futsal game, and the obligatory post-footie “minum” session (God knows why!). As if in auto-pilot mode, walked right into the kitchen, opened the fridge, and after much sniffing around, settled for a still-fresh looking sambal belacan. A bag of ampalam muda was conveniently placed nearby.

Now, I’m well-known for my *ahem* will-power and strict dietary discipline, but macamana kan resist crunchy mangga muda dipped in spicy belacan sauce?? I was seduced.

But the midnight ulam mangga session was all done with the bestest intentions… of not wasting good sambal belacan, of not mensia-siakan our amah’s energy slaving away preparing the sambal, and of not disrespecting all the bubok who gave up their lives as they willingly floated into the lasung to be pounded-the-crap-out-of to give us the divine belacan!! I celebrate their glorious lives!

But ulam mangga is technically speaking “salad”, right? So it’s OK to have it at 1 am, I guess.