Tuesday, July 22

My New Career

When I was in Kuala Lumpur earlier in July, my old friend and die-hard foodie KC Toh took me to the Petaling Jaya home of a local chef for an impromptu cooking lesson. Ah Pan, pictured here teaching me to fry noodles, is a hawker. I'm not sure what his specialties are. I can be forgiven for not learning this since he and I didn't share a mutually comprehensible language. He doesn't speak much Mandarin or English and I speak even less Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew or Hakka.

He had what I'd call a "kitchen suite". His home is an ordinary two-story "link" (attached) house, including a small conventional kitchen with an unused sink & stove that he uses to entertain (read: feed people) in. An attached utility room is used to wash dishes, another attached room is used for several freezers and refrigerators. An outside room, called the "wet kitchen", is used for food preparation. This kitchen's concrete floor was very wet indeed (he gave me rubber sandals, he had wooden clogs), there were plastic buckets on the floor, some with vegetables soaking in water, others with unidentified grey liquids. Also on the floor, squatting, was his unskilled Indonesian assistant who was chopping shallots in a very desultory way.

The most interesting part of the wet kitchen are the two inverted rocket engines. Well, they probably aren't really rocket engines, but they each have their own propane tank and have three nested perforated rings that throw blue flame eighteen inches. These are what the woks go on and they can heat a wok quite fast.

No recipes here (I was sworn to secrecy) but I'll tell you that I now can make:
  1. Teochew-style steamed fish
  2. Kueh-teow tung (Ipoh-style rice noodle soup)
  3. Chow kueh-teow (Penang-style fried rice noodles)
  4. Rice Fritters
I plan to practice for a few years and then open my own stall in Tahoe.

1 comment:

Giulio Cesare Solaroli said...

You don't need to have a mutual language when an automatic translator could do the work just fine