Thursday, October 4, 2007

One man's cooking...

... is another man's biological weapon: Burning chilli sparks terror fear (from BBC)

My friend dr.sbdink, who is currently living in Singapore, says that tenants over there are not allowed to cook. I think this is a rational policy, and very vital for a smooth lesee-lessor relationship. Even if Singaporean cuisine has its share of stinky pastes and sauces, they're their stinky pastes and sauces.

Speaking of stinky food, dr.sbdink tells me of this food in Singapore called otak-otak. According to the interweb, the dish is from Indonesia but Malaysia and Singapore have their versions. It's basically fish paste placed in banana leaves and grilled over charcoal or baked in an oven. I found a recipe here. It can be eaten on its own or as a side dish or as a viand with rice. Dr.sbdink has tried it and, well, didn't really like it. I'm going to Kuala Lumpur next week-- hopefully I'll find this dish so I can give my own review.

As for the name, otak-otak perplexes me. I know that otak means brain in Bahasa, so what does otak-otak mean? Well, based on the pics I've seen, the greyish brown fish paste does look a little like brains. It wouldn't surprise me if that's the etymology of the dish's name-- in the Philippines we have even weirder names for food. E.g., kulangot (literally booger), which is a sweet concoction of coconut and sugar placed in small coconut shells-- the shells are the nostrils and, well, you get the picture. And then there's pan de regla (literally menstruation bread), which is bread with red jam and some butter. Go figure.

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