I wonder whether Federer will like Choi Keok (Chai Buay)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Oh I love it.

The idea that you can turn discards into something so appetising.

Just when we thought that Roger Federer's days are over, he turned around and won yet another Gland Slam title, while we were slurping our bowls of discards.

My CNY 2017 batch was indeed a "head to toe" pot of goodness. Using leftovers parts from suckling pigs served at a wedding dinner, a huge bone from Christmas ham and a roast duck (sans head) we managed to make two huge pots, eaten over a span of three days.

We used lots of pickled ham choy (long variety) and the round kai Choy (long one out of stock). Tamarind paste and assam keping for the sours. We also added lemon grass and kaffir lime leafs for the herby tones. And yes, lots of dried chillies.

Still good and hungry
Fret not, the full recipe is in the cookbook and also here and here.

By the third day, it hit the sweet, or I should say, "sour" spot.

Though known as a CNY dish, there is no reason why we cannot make this more often during the rest of the year.
Cambodian children enjoying
their version of Choi Keok

In fact, Choi Keok is indeed a poor man's dish. What the rich discard, the rest pick up and eat. I saw this for myself when (a year ago) I visited a school set up by Project Khmer Hope at Truong Village in Cambodia. The school serves literally the poorest of the poor in Cambodia.

What were they eating during lunch? Choi Keok. They were piling it on white rice for the hordes of hunger children. This is indeed understandable. Without refrigeration, the pickled veg keeps well. And leftovers from previous meals get a second boil again.

Cheap, convenient and tasty. What a strange contrast, that far richer Chinese families in Malaysia and Singapore will crave for the same dish.

I also met some of my cousins and received further tips. My late Mum was a generous teacher and she gave tips and instructions whoever they were requested. She taught one of my cousin (Wendy Ung) to fry the roasted meat parts in some oil first and then add belachan before the rest of the stuff and water goes into the pot. For herby notes, she also used torch ginger bud (bunga kantang) and laksa leaves.

My cousins fried the roasted meat with belachan.
You can also see generous bunga kantang added
She used fresh long kai choy. They look lovely. 
What we are agree is that seafood just don't go well in her version of Choi Keok. It is suppose to be an earthy dish. Keep the seas out.

Wait for CNY to be over and for fresh long Kai Choy to be available again. Don't throw away your leftovers. Gather them, freeze them and then, cook a pot of this again. Perhaps once a month. Waste not, want not. Stay "green" and recycle your dinners. A good idea isn't it?

And don't discount Federer. The next time he is in the final again, prepare some bowls of Choi Keok. He may yet prove again that it is not over yet.

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