Tuesday, 8 November 2011

LIFE OVERSEAS : On a culinary adventure

AUDREY CHEW ERNERN gets creative in the kitchen when her mum is away WHEN a tourist arrives in Malaysia, the typical agenda is sightseeing and probably soaking in the sun for the highly dreamed of tan. But if a tourist asks a Malaysian the million-ringgit question, “What is Malaysia famous for?”, what will be his answer? The internationally famous Petronas Twin Towers?

The heritage city of Malacca? Or will he be a true Malaysian and state the No.

1 thing we hold dear to our hearts? A simple word that unites us all — “food”.
Ask any Malaysian who is studying or living abroad and one of the main items on their wish list is food. For example, mouth-watering Kajang satay, Ipoh chicken rice, 1m-long roti tisu, or that famous rojak at the hawker stall down the street.

Over here in Killaloe, Ireland the closest you can get to a taste of home is stir-fried chicken with non-spicy satay sauce. But thanks to the hard-working and wise entrepreneurs here, Asian supermarkets are available. Choices are limited but your eyes will light up when you spot a packet of Milo three-in-one sachets.

I emigrated to Ireland with my mother and, as we all know, nothing can substitute for mum’s cooking. But for the past six dreadful weeks, mum has had the time of her life in Malaysia while I started my fifth year in high school.

My first week was spent scavenging through the freezer for leftovers. After every corner has been thoroughly searched for frozen meals, I had to face reality. I had to cook. Proper planning was essential as time was of the essence. Returning home from school at four with lots of homework added to the burden.

I started by organising a weekly menu. Home-grown lettuce was a bonus.

Next, going through the larder was an interesting adventure, especially when some spices toppled over and made a mess. Sneakily, my eyes wandered over to the cupboard filled with instant noodles but I figured they would not be an ideal menu for six weeks in a row. Squiggly noodles would be coming out of my ears by then.

So, conducting experiments in the kitchen became my daily routine. There were successes and catastrophes.

First on the menu was rice with oyster sauce chicken and stir-fried vegetables.

The pan began to sizzle too much and I had poured in too much water.

On the upside, it became soup, which tasted fairly palatable.

The light bulb in my head flickered on and I had the idea to add egg noodles into the soup.

Some vegetables followed suit and I topped it off by cracking a fresh egg into the boiling hot soup.

And there it was, my pride and joy, a bowl of home-made yee mee (minus the clay pot).

Cooking has changed from being a chore to a treat, especially with wonderful recipes from the Internet and all those convenient pre-packed sauces.

Who knew that the wonders of kuah asam pedas were just a sachet away?
Then, I realised I did not just miss Malaysian food, but all the food available in Malaysia.

A choice of three types of cuisine in a day is eventful. For instance, nasi lemak for breakfast, rice with sweet and sour fish for lunch and tandoori chicken for dinner.

And as Japanese food is one of my favourites, I ate sushi, which I made, with a grin on my face while my classmates munched on their rolls of bread for lunch.

The writer is studying at a high school in Ireland. She loves to try all things but is a Malaysian at heart. Email her at audreychew94@hotmail.com

Read more: LIFE OVERSEAS: On a culinary adventure http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/LIFEOVERSEAS_Onaculinaryadventure/Article#ixzz1d74warTr

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