Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Fast Food

There's a Peranakan dish that separates the true blue Peranakans from the wannabes. It's called Buah Keluak. My mom only makes it on special occasions because the amount of work that goes into making it from scratch is too much to warrant making it more than once a year. My grandma and my aunt were equally reluctant to make the dish citing the tedium that came with bashing each shell in, digging out the contents of the nut(buah-loosely translated is fruit or nut in Malay). to toss with lemongrass, ginger, strange leaves, I think called limau perut (some lime based plant I'm assuming) and minced meat.

When I was in Melbourne, my mom would pull a labour of love and cook up enough of the paste for me to bring over and freeze. I was then able to eat in when I felt homesick for some Peranakan food. Dan learnt how to eat it but isn't as fond of it. Like I said, it takes a true bred Peranakan to actually appreciate the dish. In the last years, I've depended on Chinese New Year to eat the stuff. Sometimes Christmas when we go over to B's, we get it too. B's grandma still makes it and I'm concerned about what might happen when she is no longer around and the recipe dies with her.

Anyway, Peranakan restaurants serve the stuff but it's always adulterated and at exorbitant costs. I found a cheaper alternative a few days back at the supermarket. It's about $4.95 for a box of pre cooked buah keluak with chicken pieces in yummy gravy. B's family and my mother would probably balk at it, I don't think it's totally authentic even if it had a teng-kak*
as a logo. The Jolly brand sort of gave that away.

But it was enough to satiate the desire for it that I didn't know I had until I saw it in the supermarket cold section. I'm pleased. A tasty dish that I didn't have to cook up with the added advantage of not having MSG (Monosodium Glutamate or A-ji-no-moto)in it. There are other local delights like beef rendang (beef curry)that I might try next.

I might also do the Coke-Pepsi taste test thing with my mom and see if she can actually tell the difference between true Buah Keluak and Jolly Buah Keluak. I could call it the Princess and the Pea taste test-only true Peranakans would be able to discern the difference. :)

*A tiffin carrier- containers, often metal, for food that can be stacked one a top another and held together and carried together by a frame and handle.

Addendum- Said supermarket. Bought from Cold Storage at Takashimaya and spotted also at Cold Storage Great World City. :) Go Forth and be Jolly.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 21:37

5 thoughts...

5 thoughts...

At 10:41 pm Blogger Tym said...

So the Jolly brand is good? Will keep an eye out for it next time we, um, do grocery shopping.

I, too, have never quite developed much fondness for buah keluak. Not remotely Nonya, lah.

At 12:04 am Blogger Belle said...

i like buah keluak(t?) too!! my daddy cooks it like once a year for the CNY eve reunion dinner, and the pot lasts for up to a week!

somehow, the taste gets better the longer u leave it on the stove.

i'm so happy i'm a true blue peranakan even though i can't speak malay!!

At 1:42 am Blogger KnightofPentacles said...

Which supermarket was it? Please let us know if it passes the taste test.

The only restaurants found which served an acceptable version (as graded by one with Nonya blood) was in Melacca.

At 8:54 am Blogger Yuhui said...

How about learning the recipe so it doesn't get lost?

At 11:24 am Blogger Ondine said...

Now, that would be easy way out, wouldn't it? ;)


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