In our hectic, headless chicken driven lives, we forget that the joy that the simple things in life bring. It’s like we love making things more complicated than it ought to be, as if the more complicated it is, the more gratification we will get. But do we really?
Of all the holidays I have had, the best are the ones where I have spent days at one single location. Just soaking in the spirit of the place. Of course, anyone who knows me well will know that my favourite breaks are simply going for a trek – 10 to 14 days preferably – walking 5 to 8 hours from one campsite to another. These are human paced holidays – you walk at human pace and not simply flying from one place to another.
To me, trekking represents what life is – you walk at your own pace with nobody to dictate how fast or slow you should go, sometimes you speed up, sometimes you slow down. At certain points of the trek, you have company, but there could be days when you are mostly alone and that’s okay, because there is a quiet welcomed peace with being alone. The trail is peppered with ups and downs. When you are ascending a summit pass, it’s hard with slight symptoms of AMS (Altitude Mountain Sickness) kicking in but you encourage each other on, waiting at ledge points for your buddies. Exhilaration sets in when you reach the top, you are happy but real trekkers know that the beauty of a trek is not just reaching the top but the journey of getting there.
Back to the idea of simplicity – it can sometimes apply to cooking too. Yesterday, I was thinking of what to cook for dinner. I was a bit tired of “heavy” recipes – Last Friday was steak with the usual sides, Monday was slow boiled old cucumber soup with a side of stir fried broccoli, ear fungus and oyster mushroom.
So when I came across Song fish belly at the supermarket, I knew what I was going to have for dinner. The Song fish is an extremely bony fish with bones the size of long thin needles. Its’ saving redemption is it’s silky flesh with gelatinous bits on it’s head. The belly is the only part which I would eat with a kid (if I didn’t want a headache in deboning) and for some reason, the belly portion is deemed as fish bones by the fishmonger, so it’s sold even cheaper than the rest of the fish body. (hurray for me!) . I washed the pieces with some salt, just to get any residue fishy smell out (although this step is probably not needed for a fresh fish).
I had some frozen pre-julienned mountain ginger from Penang. This variety of ginger is known for it’s fragrance. It’s skinnier (think – Kenyan runner vs me – who has more power?) than it’s usual market cousin but it packs a punch! The ginger was fried and set aside.
Now all that was needed was to steam the pieces of the Song fish topped with the fried ginger. Once done, just drizzle some light soya sauce on it. This is my take on soya sauce – always get the best possible soya sauce – it can make or break a dish. For me, I get my year’s supply of soya sauce when I drive up to Penang or KL.
As for the porridge, what can I say, I love my thermos pot. I peeled and tossed some sweet potato, millet and a mixture of brown and red rice into the pot. Boiled it on slow for about 15 to 20 minutes before keeping it in the thermos pot. (if you using white rice, it only takes 10 minutes). Obviously, the porridge was done before I started on the fish because it takes time to slow cook in the thermos.
My little gourmet food reviewer said, – ” Mama, how come it’s so simple but delicious?”
I rest my case.