On the Trail of My Favourite Dishes

My utmost culinary sensation would be blue cod grilled fresh from the catch, with bites dunked in a wake-up condiment, eaten with the ocean breeze blowing in my face, surrounded by mates enjoying the flow of the day and following to where the wave of unplanned holidays take us.

For Breakfast:  Nothing beats like a simple feitan chok, or broth flavoured by slices of the so-called thousand year old egg (often duck eggs cured with vinegar and preservatives). This has been the meal opener for many in southern China, and is available at Hong Kong styled yumcha restaurants around the world.

For a Pick Me Up: Pineapple salad, usually inspired by Thai cuisine, can be done in various degrees of hotness and sour tastes.  My preferred version comes from the Straits Chinese, with lots of complementing mint leaves, traces of finely chopped hard boiled egg and with onion slices to contrast with the sharpness of the fruit.

Snacks: On hot humid days in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and Hong Kong,  it is not easy to avoid the ubiquitous bak kuah, or freshly cooked pork or beef jerky, which  are best served sizzling from a barbecue grill and eaten slightly cooled down. One can see the burnt black bits on top of the moist oily surface of the usually square slices. Such fare are also available in most Chinatowns around the Western world.

A Quick, Delicious Dinner:  Try the tomato flavoured rice, looking light orangy, which can be accompanied  ala Vietnam by crispy skin roast chicken, or in true Indian inspiration, the comparable briyani is best eaten with a chicken kurma curry.  Both best eaten with unrestrained hands, the latter over banana leaves.

To Refresh: Nothing beats a long and tiring day like having a small ice-cold bowl of gingko simmered in a dessert concoction.  For most Lunar New Years, I have been able to savour those made by an elder cousin on Penang Island.

In South-east Asia, do not miss sampling the kiam hoo gulai, or curry with a kick of dashes of salted dried fish, and usually accompanied with long beans or other crunchy vegetables. The true stuff is appetising, is often not that chili-hot and basks in a more creamy-like gravy. Best eaten with white steamed rice, it should not make you unusually thirsty but just craving for more of this dish - it grows on your thoughts.

Power Meal:  Try salmon omelette, a feature of Aussie breakfasts, with a tinge of Japanese and New Zealand influences, but most pleasing to the palate. It can be a balanced meal, is even better when taken with your favourite dressing or salad.  No frozen stuff to be sued please, everything must be as fresh as the eggs.

And then there are Spanish roast suckling pigs, French duck con fit, Moroccan cous-cous, Italian spaghetti gambari, Japanese grilled unagi and hokey-pokey ice cream from the Land of the Long White Cloud.

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