Monday, April 06, 2009

Eat! 吃飯! Makan! Manger!

“There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home” sings Dorothy while she clicks her red heels together. I love fairy tales but I have to say that although I agree, there are some places that come close to it, food wise at least. I spent the weekend in a Sydney suburb that is healthily populated by Indonesian restaurants, Kingsford, and indulged in really homey food in Ayam Goreng 99 and Ratu Sari. Every so often, refreshment like this comes with inspiration.

Barramundi with cracked sea salt and sesame oil
I came away from this weekend with a pantry full of assortments of chili sauces (email me if you would like some recommendations) and a whole barramundi fish. I met a very nice Indonesian guy who works in a fish monger in East Garden and instead of selling me yesterday’s catch of ikan kembung (yellow tail) or mackerels (I wanted to make shio saba), he recommended a fresh barramundi fish. I love this kind of service where a vendor would explain his/her products. I came away with a bag of fish roe too. At home, my mom likes to cook a fish called “B-K” (which I deeply believe is mackerel) and often on the same meal she’d have deep fried fish roes from the same fish. They sort of look like sausage and it’s delicious. After I moved to Sydney, I discovered a Korean restaurant that does fish roe soup with tofu in the city and I love it so much I want to make it myself! And so I did, or attempted to.
Fish roe soup with miso and kochujang
Tonight I married Indonesian cuisine with Chinese with a touch of Korean. I’d credit Korean cuisine more but I’m afraid I might not do it justice with my lack of knowledge on how to cook proper Korean food. This will have to do for the moment.
Ikan bakar sambal terasi
For the love of chili, I’ve spread a healthy dose of sambal terasi on top of the grilled fish. Can I just say, it…. Is…. Divine…. As always, rice as our humble but delicious and nutritious staple stays in the background; nevertheless a meal is not and never can be defined as a meal without its presence.
Atap-seng, South-East Asian umeboshi
You may notice this pickled plum in the background as a garnish to my fish. This is sort of like the Japanese umeboshi. I was over the moon when I found this in a Thai grocery. Back in grade 6, my friends Elvinta, Elinda, Juliarosi and I used to make our ways to my aunt’s place before, in the middle of and after after-school tutorial to satisfy our thirst for a pickled we so fondly called “atap-seng” in the local Chinese dialect. I believe “atap” is the name of the fruit while “seng” means sour and over the years, the product had disappeared from the shelves of supermarkets, home stores and “warung”. You cannot imagine my joy when I found this stuff here in Sydney. Compared to umeboshi, it’s far more powerful in salt and the bite. If you pick it with your chopstick, the brine tracing the chopsticks is enough to make your whole face pucker.


Anonymous said...

wah gw masih ingat atap seng di rumah soi ie dulu. wah enaknya, keingat jd ngiler deh. hahaha. atap seng yg diasinin.mmmm.....

Ernie [Kiki] Yulyaningsih said...

iya niiih. aku baru kecari atap seng bikinan dari thailand. ntar klo sempat aku fotoin deh. i'm sure bisa kecari di supermarket.