Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Legendary Food I Ate Today

I started my day with THE Penang specialty, Assam Laksa soup. Looking back, it was my favorite taste of the day, but each dish I tried after that made me waver on that decision momentarily.


The food in Penang is legendary.

Laksa broth is made from mackerel, which is poached, deboned and then joined by lemongrass, chilies and tamarind. The noodles are thick vermicelli, and after those are placed in the bowl, they are topped with lettuces, cucumber, onions, pineapple and fresh mint. On top of all of this, a spoonful of shrimp paste is placed on top for you to mix in yourself.

When I say that everything is represented here, it's in a Sweet, Sour, Spicy, Crunchy kind-o-way. Unforgettable. I would eat this every day for the rest of the week, at least. Cost = $1.

Next came Hokkien Mee, or "prawn noodle." This soup has a thick pork and prawn base and is garnished with water spinach, hard boiled eggs, shrimp, slices of pork and crispy shallots. The same spoonful of paste is placed across the bowl as mentioned above, but this one is filled with chili paste for a little more spice.

I adored this soup. Please, oh please, Malaysian restaurant in Seattle, please carry these two soups!

Cost: $1

I am nuts about the won ton soup in my neighborhood - just ask my family about it, because they got hooked on it, too.

So when I read about Wan Tan Mee, I had to carry my won ton competition to another country. I chose to have mine dry, like in the picture - but you can also have it as soup.

The dry form is served over thick soy sauce and you can toss it up as you like. Mine - which I waited for for at least 45 minutes at a hopping roadside stand - was topped with one fried won ton and two dumpling won tons and a row of delicious barbecued pork.

For dessert, I had cendool. The beans are thick and sweetened red beans, and the green worms are made from starch and the coloring comes from the pandan leaf. The syrup is made from coconut milk and is sweetened with palm sugar to give it an almost-coffee taste. All of this is served over shaved ice.

And what did I do during my three hours intervals in between meals? I saw the town - museums, old colonial mansions and state buildings and forts. I hid from the rain in my hotel where I watched a really stupid movie, and then hid from the rain some more with a 75 year-old Chinese healer who massaged his secret wine sauce into my wrists after he told me he had cured a man with it who was struck by lightning. I'll let you know if my wrist pain goes away.

Oh, and a confession: I also had chicken curry in Little India. It was delicious, but I knew that I wanted to try the wan tan mee, so I ate only half of it and only one piece of naan (I can exercise self-control in these situations). So I left with the deliberate thought, "No one will ever know about this..."

Well, I was wrong. I was sitting there eating my wan tan mee beside the road when a man I did not recognize approached my table. "You didn't like the chicken curry at the restaurant?" he asked, a little confused.

I had been caught, red-handed, slurping an egg noddle. "Um, no, I mean, yes, I liked it a lot," I answered as I wiped soy sauce from my chin. How could I explain my odd behavior to this man, who, probably like everyone else in that restaurant, had seen the light-haired foreigner leave half of her chicken?

"Why did you leave it?" There it was.

"I wanted this, too?" I said, smiling sheepishly.

The man belly laughed and said, "Good, good!" and went away.

Can't wait for another day in Penang~

(I got all of these pictures on the internet - they are better than mine!)


Brian Bowker said...

Your post makes me belly laugh!

(But why do I always seem to read your blog several hours before lunch time?...)

Carol said...

Yeah, I wish I had waited until after dinner to read this..........
Everything looked totally delicious!

The Norris Clan said...

Oh my goodness... I want everything you just described NOW. Holy yumminess!