09 September 2006

5 Things To Eat Before I Die

Evan tagged me on 31 Aug 06 to do this meme. As I seemed to be dragging my feet over it, she refused to do a 'counter-meme' originated by me and even threatened 'not to friend me' anymore. Hence this meme was written as I treasure her friendship. I learnt that just like death and taxes, a meme is something that you can't avoid.

Some of the food I mention here are no longer available because either the person who served up the dish is no longer around or the stall might have stopped operating altogether. Some are still being served but by lesser cooks. The last item I would definitely like to have the opportunity to sample before I die but, sigh... it's not up to me. (I mean the sampling, not the dying although both are not up to me).

I don't know why but I like soups of all kinds. Maybe being Cantonese has something to do with it. Or it could be because when I was still single and staying with my mum, she served soup at almost every dinner, hence cultivating my liking for soups. So here goes:

1. One of the most memorable soups I have not tasted for a long time is salted fish head soup cooked by my mum. Although an unusual soup, it is actually quite simple to cook (I think). Just chop up the head into pieces and soak them in water for a while (so the soup won't be too salty). Then transfer them to a pot of hot water and let it simmer for a while. Just before serving, cut up a slab of tofu (bean curd) and throw them in the pot. Sadly, I may not have chance to try this soup again before I die because my mum passed away in 2003 and so far, I can't find any food stall or restaurant that brews this soup anymore.

2. Another soup that I love is turtle soup. Long ago, on learning my penchant for turtle soup, one of my colleagues exclaimed in amazement and disgust, "Omigosh, how could you ever eat turtle soup? I used to have a pet turtle you know?" I replied her nonchalantly, 'To you it's a pet. But to me, it's food. Remember, we Chinese eat any animal that moves with it's back facing the sky." Many years ago, I tried the turtle soup sold by the famous shop at Lorong Tai Seng. The soup was thick, dark and full of body. You could taste the distinctive wine and medicinal flavour. It was just heavenly. Sadly again, this shop had since been torn down. I know that there are many other shops serving turtle soup now. Some of them even sport the 'Tai Seng' label. Although I have not tried them all, I suspect that none of them cooks soup that comes close to that served at the original Tai Seng shop.

3. I also love mutton soup, both the Hainanese version as well as the Indian one called soup kambing. For the former, you can get any part of the lamb's anatomy in your soup; you only need to ask for it. One perenial favourite with old men 'who can't get it up' is what is known as the 'best of the lamb' or lamb's penis, otherwise known as c***. Just in case you are wondering, I haven't tried it yet. It's not that I dare not to, mind you; it's just that I don't need the extra boost. (Uh-oh, the blogo-policeman is going to cry foul again on 2 counts - my use of that dreaded 4-letter word and boasting about my capabilities yet again.)

The Indian version comes with various options as well:

a. otak (brain) - quite gory-looking, I must say. Like a scene from a horror movie;

b. mata (eye) - even more gory than the otak, I feel. Imagine a pair of eyes staring at you from your soup, as if asking, "Why are you eating me?"

c. lidah (tongue) - with which the lamb says "Blair" "bleh" with;

d. tulang (bones with tendons) - very good for suckers sucking;

e. isi (meat) - all other parts of the lamb not already classified above.

I have only tried the last two items on the menu, mostly isi. Dipping bits of French loaf into the soup provides for a more filling (and fulfilling) meal.

For Hainanese mutton soup, the one at Golden Mile Food Centre (Beach Road) is best in my opinion. It's called Queen Street Mutton Soup. There is another stall in Dunman Road Food Centre that comes a close second. As for soup kambing, I used to patronise a stall at Haig Road Food Centre where I lived almost 30 years ago. The seller was an Indian man who wore all white which showed the curry stains on his attire very clearly. He not only sold the soup, he also smelled like it as well, hehe. I must say that his soup kambing was second to none which was why I always asked for a second helping of soup which came free if you had ordered bread as well. This man stall is no longer around. I heard that there is another stall with the name "Razack" at Blk 17 Upper Boon Keng Road that serves excellent soup kambing but I haven't tried it before.

4. Beef is my favourite meat. Hence I like beef anything, cooked anyway (but not anyhow). I like beef stew, beef noodles, beef brisket noodles, beef steak and beef balls (not the organs but those made from minced beef). If I had to choose just one dish, I would choose the Hainanese dry beef noodles. Long ago, there used to be a famous beef noodle stall in a coffeeshop near to the old Odean Theatre in North Bridge Road which I mentioned in an earlier post. That stall is no longer around but you can find another delicious beef noodle stall at a coffeeshop at Blk 203 at Hougang St 21. However, be prepared not only to self-serve but also stand in queue for up to half an hour before you get your food. If you can, you must order the cham-cham (mixed) version. This comes with tripes (stomach) which has a rubbery texture and balls (of minced meat, not the organs). And don't forget the chilli and the chinchalok (fermented shrimp sauce that is dull pink in colour). Hmm... it makes my mouth water just thinking of the beef noodles.

5. Last but not least, I would really like to try Evan's homemade popiah before I die. It looks so very delicious that it is kind of sadistic to let us only see the photo but not taste the food. To show you what I mean, I am reproducing her popiah photo here without her permission. (Hope you don't mind, Evan):

Don't let the uncles wait too long, Evan. For the uncles may not have very long more for waiting (or for anything else for that matter). You can see that the other four items above are really unhealthy food and should best be consumed as deathbed food. But your popiah is different - it is healthy, nutritional and life-giving - something I would certainly die for.

There Evan, you can do my meme now. If not, I don't friend you.


Chris said...

What? No Char Kway Teow in the list? Then you're not a true blue Singaporean you claimed to be. And I've never known you to be a soupy person despite our lunch interaction. You seem to like fish alot, and I'm surprised it's not in the list.

Your list of 5 things to eat before you go read like 10. So long winded. Another sure sign of old age hor.

evan said...

haha uncle vic...u win liao lor. do the meme but still nvr forget to suan me! eh by the way, when did i say i dun wanna friend u? i only dun wanna do your counter meme only mah. dun twist your words ok ah pek..er i mean, ah chek LOL.

ok so u still nvr forget the popiah. just like chris!! u guys are "斷背山" or izit 夫唱夫随? hahaha! but good things are worth the wait, don't u agree? *winks* so, WAIT LOR!

right, back to yr post. actually i love anything beef too. quite suprised its your favorite meat coz i tot old ppl normally dun eat beef? i like chinese mutton soup too, but nvr tried the one at beach rd. there's one very famous at beauty world..the bt timah one. as for the fish head soup... izit 鱼头炉? coz my hubby oso looking for something similar but he cant find it anywhere. according to him, this soup has got salted fish and roast pork in there. think i must cook it someday to satisfy his craving, irregardless whether i can get it right or not. but i'm SURE i can, given the fact that i'm such a GOOD cook *smirks*

nevertheless still thank u for doing this meme despite the fact that u r slow...like tortoi...umm ok never mind. but does that mean i hv to do the one u counter tagged me? if don't do how? u really won't friend me izit? but then again, maybe its a blessing in disguise if u dun friend me hee hee!

Chris said...

Evan, don't ever associate me with one who consumes "lamb's penis". Please, you think we're on "Fear Factor" izzit? Heh.

I'm more interested in the popiah. Actually, I already forgot leow. The meme by uncle vic brough back fond memories leh. So must wait how long to eat your popiah? You scared of uncle vic is it? Make sure your hubby also at home lah. We just wanna eat. Nothing more, nothing less lah.

Victor said...

Chris - Char Kway Teow, geh harm (with more cockles) is your favourite food, not mine. To each his own. I only accompany you to share out the dish for fun. (Everytime you are the one who suggests it, saying "Today we Go Ghim Moh", remember?

Evan - You didn't say "you don't friend me" but you said 不要跟你好了啦!! in one of the comments on Chris' meme post. Roughly translated into English, it means "I don't friend you" lor. I may be old but my memory is still good okay. If you don't do mine, 我也是不要跟你好了啦!!

潮州鱼头颅 is different from 咸鱼头汤. You can get the former from a lot of places but I don't know which one is good. But I haven't come across a place that sells the latter soup. It's main ingredient is a big dried and salted Ang Go Li fish head. Maybe it was a poor man's dish and nobody consumes it anymore.

evan said...

orrrr i did say that huh? ok paiseh, i'm senile already! got very bad memory nowadays lah, must eat gingko biloba :p

鱼头颅 the 颅 wrong spelling lah. shd be 炉, as in, pot. not skull! wapiang, like that oso can.

popiah. i hate that word. i'm having PHOBIA of popiah now.

Victor said...

It's okay lah. In fact, I find your use of that Chinese phrase 不要跟你好了啦!! rather cute. It brings back memories of the last time I used it myself as a kid when I had some disagreement while playing with our neighbours' kids.

Can. Fish head also means fish skull mah. Haha. :p

evan said...

uncle vic, i ask u something. how do u post a link in the comment box? im not familiar wif this blogger comment box and i tried different possibilities like < a > tag then close with < /a > tag (without the spaces of coz) how come cannot one huh? its so stupid! other comment boxes like haloscan can auto detect a link when u type in http:// but why this one cannot? whats the correct HTML code? thx ya!

Victor said...

Evan, I guess this is a very basic comment box with limited features. (Free one cannot complain too much lah, heh.) I clicked on 'help' and found only these boxcodes (formating tagss) being supported:

[b] bold [/b]
[i] italics [/i]
[u] underline [/u]
[color=red] colour [/color]

No mention of other HTML codes being supported. Guess you'll just have to type in your website as 'http://...' and let the reader 'cut-and-paste' into his browser's address box to go to the website lor. A bit troublesome cos seems like there's no other way. But, hey it works.

Chris - I forgot to reply you about your observation that I like fish. Yes, I like fish. Fish is healthy food for the living mah. But Evan's meme is about food you would die for. So I interpreted that it should be unhealthy food (except for the popiah; sorry to Evan for bringing this up again :p). Hence fish is not featured here.

Victor said...

Hey Evan, I just tried by typing Mr Blogo-policeman's plain URL, "http://..." in the Cbox and it works. Go try it out.

evan said...

huh?? no lah uncle vic. then how come u can do it? u see your 4th comment on top. u said "Evan - You didn't say "you don't friend me" but you said 不要跟你好了啦!! in one of the comments on Chris' meme post...". the words "chris' meme post" was a link!! i mean, how did u do it? did u simply just type in the URL without using any HTML tag?

anyway i'm not referring to the cbox but this blogger comment box lah.

Victor said...

Oh I see what you mean, Evan. So it is this comment box and not the cbox on the front page that you are refering to, eh?

Ok, the coding for creating an HTML link in this comment box goes like this:

< a h r e f = "http://simshaddy.blogspot.com">place words you want to appear as your clickable link here< / a >.

Please note that there should be no spaces in the 'anchors' at the extreme ends of the above HTML codes, except the one between the letter 'a' and 'h'.

Evan, just in case you do not already know, you can actually right-click on the comment page (outside the comment box) or on any HTML page for that matter, and then select "view source" to look how the HTML codes for the page are actually encoded. You can search for the phrase you are looking for by keying in CTRL-F.

Er... what am I saying? You should be much better than me in this (not suaning you here hor). :)

evan said...

ok i know. i tried to view source too. i even tried putting the code that i use from my blog template but didnt work, wonder why! anyway what makes u think i'm referring to cbox? i said blogger comment box lor *faint* but well, i got it. thx!

Lam Chun See said...

Of your list of 5, I only like Beef Noodle - Hainanese type. In Ipoh there is a very famous Beef Noodle restaurant. Have to get queue number! Last trip I gave up after couldn't find a parking lot.

Victor said...

Is that an indication of self-withdrawal from the popiah queue, Chun See? Why you give up so easily (the popiah, not the Ipoh beef kway teow)? I am on the verge of success, you know. And after waiting so long?

Also good lah, then I can eat your share, haha.

simplyetel said...

wei wei wei.. u all talk talk talk... what popiah etc etc..


i also wan popiah! shall we have a xmas party? hehe.. evan make ur cakes n popiah.. then uncle vic and uncle chris and uncle lam cook something, then as for me...


Victor said...

That's an excellent idea, Elaine. *Cheeky grin*. Christmas is actually not too far away. Besides the cakes and popiah, Chris and maybe Chun See's wife can cook something but I definitely can't. Chris can cook his signature dish, pumpkin noodles while Chun See can provide the salad and fruits. As for me, I can borrow money to buy a turkey and/or honey ham from Cold Storage or NTUC. Suggest Chun See volunteer his place for the gathering - landed property is more spacious mah. Then after we tuck in next to his son's pitcher plants, Evan can entertain us with a number or two on Chun See's piano (or his neighbour's if he doesn't have one). It would definitely be an enjoyable occasion for all which would be remembered for a long, long time. Hohoho.

Chris said...

That's a brilliant idea, Victor! You really know how to set the mood hor? I'm in Christmas mood already! I think popiah alone is more then sufficient. U go get the popiah skin at Joo Chiat. Chun See take charge of the salad. Evan make the popiah.

Elain and myself, our job is to eat.

Chun See got two maids right? They will do the dishes.

Hmmm...right now, that Christmas song is spining in my mind.. sorry I can't help it...

I'mmmm dreaming of a white... I mean popiahhh... Christmas
Just like my mother used to make
May the popiah, be tasty and niicccceeeeee...
And may your popiah forever be right ...

And we can exchange presents! So exciting... :P

frannxis said...

there isn't much detail about your salted fish head soup - just toufu and fishhead? sounds quite bland

i think if the head is big, the soup will be too salty even if the head is soaked beforehand

i do like fish head soup..wouldn't it be better if you use fish head and just add a few pieces of salted fish, toufu and vegetable..

Victor said...

Frannxis, I regret that I can't get the exact recipe now because my mum has since passed away. I don't know, maybe she did put in some pork bones as well to brew the soup. But the soup really tasted quite good and it was not too salty. I haven't tasted anything quite like it since my mum last cooked it. In fact, nobody cooks soup like that now, using a whole salted fish head as the main ingredient. That's why it is a soup which I want to have the chance to taste again before I die.

Lam Chun See said...

Sorry, I haven't been following the details of the comments. All the a href = this = that stuff turned me off.

But if you guys are serious, no problem for my house. And yes I have a piano which is hardly used these days. My wife doesn't cook so I can only contribute apple struddel from the nearby store.

But only 1 small problem with the dates. X'mas week I am usually in Ipoh.

Suggest we continue discussion on email rather than on the blog.