Monday, September 24, 2007

Supper/Sahur for One

Went to gym tonight forgetting that they are only opened till 10pm on Sunday evenings. I had skipped last Sunday workout since I was in Selayang and worked out on Sunday mornings before fasting month started so I came to the gym tonight oblivious to the shorten hours. I was only able to so my stretching, cardio and abs before I had to rush through my shower and leave the gym with 10 minutes to spare. I guess since I could not come earlier to workout on Sundays, I just have to skip Sundays until the end of the fasting month. That would only leave me with a 4 times weekly gym schedule but it’s just for another few weeks. I’ll come back in full force soon enough especially when I know I’ll have more to burn off after the Raya break.

Supper/sahur tonight was a solitary affair after a weekend of having company to join me for my meals. Honestly, it felt a bit depressing not having company tonight to eat with after the truly enjoyable weekend but I soldier on as I have always done. Tonight’s supper/sahur was even more noteworthy tonight as I found all my favorite dishes at the Sunway mosque Ramadhan food bazaar earlier in the day. Of all the foods, the ones that I bought today (pictured above) would be the closest I would say to be my own version of what comfort food was suppose to be. Tonight’s supper/sahur menu was white rice with fried tempe, batter fried ikan bilis Mayang (anchovies) and lemak pucuk ubi (tapioca shoots in turmeric infused coconut milk).

I would be the first to admit that I have an obsession on all things tempe. I’m like that character in “Forrest Gump” who knows everything there is about shrimp but in my case it was about the humble tempe. I just can’t get enough of the stuff either fired, boiled, barbequed, sautéed or in anyway that it can be cooked. I have been know to just have pieces of fried tempe with crushed cili padi with soy sauce dip with white rice to eat contently for a whole week. Being a fairly good source of proteins, the tempe has always been my go to dish whenever I wanted to avoid any kind of meat. Some people tend to like them very thinly sliced but for my little morsels of heaven, it has to be sliced not too thinly that it would just be to crispy to the bite. Deep fried, properly drained of the frying oil before being stir fired with a little turmeric and chili – I’m just a happy camper when I can get them done that way.

Ikan bilis Mayang was basically soft boned anchovies fried in batter till they become crispy on the outside. Growing up, the only types of fish that I would eat was the tenggiri (mackerel) since it didn’t have a lot of fish bones and ikan bilis Mayang which I can eat whole with it’s bones. Since the tenggiri was more expansive (grandma use to call it “ikan orang kaya”) of the two, I would most often have batter fried ikan bilis Mayang as my fish dish. It was such a specific fish for me that my late grandma would make it a point to make it every time I visited her. It was also the last dish that she made for me before she was admitted to hospital and died a few weeks later. Since then, I would always be reminded of my grandma when I have the dish and to see it on sale today there was no way I would have skipped it. It’s not just having a dish to eat but have the comfort of me remembering my late grandmother who I miss dearly to keep me company tonight.

Last but not least on the menu tonight was masak lemak pucuk ubi which have always been a favorite of mine. I remember back when we would drive from KL to Johor in our old 1972 Honda Civic hatchback to visit relatives and come back with a trunk full of pisang tanduk, pucuk paku and pucuk ubi. The pisang would usually be from my maternal grandfather’s banana tree grove but both pucuk paku and pucuk ubi would be from the plants growing wild in the back of their old house. It was always an adventure as a child to go with the older people into the secondary forest looking for the wild ferns and tapioca trees. Having them cooked just right after an afternoon of looking for them was just icing on the cake for me. The only caveat for me was that no one put tempoyak (fermented durian) in my masak lemak pucuk ubi dish. I just can’t stand durian and tempoyak (yeah minus marks for my “Melayu”-ness).

I’m content just getting one of the dishes but getting all three from one place for supper/sahur tonight makes me a really happy camper. It was enough for me to throw the plan of not having carbohydrates tonight out the window. The food tonight was slice of home that reminds me of where I come from, what family means to me and gives me the assurance that wherever or whatever happens, I will always have these simple things to make me happy. Nostalgia aside, each morsel was for me to enjoy though it would be better to have someone to share it and the stories behind it with.

Guess there is always a next time to do that.

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