Monday, August 22, 2011

Curry Curry Night: Chicken Curry, Bak Kut Sooi, & Five Spice Tofu Stirfry

Anyone else cooked curry on August 21st?  For those who aren't familiar with news in Singapore, where many of my friends are from, here's a quick summary from Temasek Review Emeritus.

I'm not trying to get political on any sides.  I'm not a Singaporean, I'm not associated with any event creators or any parties directly involved in the original hoo-ha.  I'm merely a fellow Earthling, who has Singaporean friends and relatives, who enjoys different sorts of curries, who believes that anyone has the right to cook whatever cultural dish they want to.  I'm writing this from a stand point of a cook.

I'll make and eat nato (Japanese fermented soybean), kimchee (Korean fermented cabbage), sauerkraut (German fermented cabbage), stinky tofu (a type of Chinese tofu dish), menudo (Mexican dish made with beef stomach), or curry if I like.  It's not as if I'm going cannibalistic and start eating fellow human flesh here.  So what's up with eating what I want and most importantly, cooking something that's intimately linked to my culture?

Anyone who knows belacan knows how strong it smells.  Belacan is a type of shrimp paste, an essential ingredient used in many Southeast Asian dishes.  Its smell can be described as pungent or fragrant, depending on if you like it or not.  On occasion, I still cook with belacan.  I'm lucky I don't live in HDB flat (flats are the English equivalent for the American apartment), where every many units are in close proximity.  However, I dare anyone to try pan frying belacan or making sambal belacan in their home with windows closed and then tell me their house does not smell.  Regardless of how great your love for belacan, you will find not only your hair and clothes smells like belacan, your whole house will smell like it.  That is why we love our stoves near the window.


I'm not Indian by ethnicity, I can't imagine being told not to cook curry, or in this case, only cook when the neighbors are not around.  But I can imagine being told not to cook with belacan, or only to cook belacan when my neighbors are gone.  If that were to be the case, that would mean I would almost never get to cook it.  Cripes!  Can you imagine being told not to cook a dish that's so intimately linked to your culture?  It's like being told to BBQ only when your neighbors are not home.  Or being told to cook chile relleno only when your neighbors are away.  Or being told to cook (insert cultural dish here) only when your neighbors are away.

Anyway, my point is, food is one of the most unifying factors that crosses countries and boundaries.  In fact, in my humble opinion, it is the factor that can unite people across the globe.  There are steakhouses in Asia, sushi restaurants in America, pizzas in Australia, kebob sold in Europe, crepes sold in Japan.  Let's cook and eat to be friendlier with each other, not against each other.  So here's a pot of curry that I share with all who visits this page.  Let's be friends, not enemies.