This month’s Malaysia Food Fest brings us to Johor, the nearest Malaysian state to us. Despite being just across the Causeway and so frequently packed with Singaporeans especially over the weekends, I must admit that I know very little about the true blue Johorean fare. Well, there are some really popular local delights, like otak otak from Muah, Ogura Cake from Batu Pahat, Fishballs from Yong Peng, Railway bread from Kluang and durians from Segamat. Wait, the last one doesn’t count! LOL
I begin this month’s exploration with Ayam Masak Merah, a purportedly popular dish throughout the Peninsula (judging by the number of times this dish has actually being cooked and blogged) which has its roots from the southern state. Not quite a fan of tomato ketchup, I was rather curious about how it would taste when I saw it being featured in Wendyinkk’s blog last August. The combination of a simple rempah, together with coconut milk and a generous dousing of tomato ketchup… very curious indeed.
海南炸猪排 Hainanese Deep Fried Pork Chops is another dish that sends me right back to my childhood. My mum prepared a version of this fairly frequently when I was young, because my sister and I, as children loved fried food! I remember vividly how I used to help my mother tumbuk i.e. pound cream crackers using our old mortar and pestle on the floor laid with a layer of old newspapers beside the kitchen sink as my mother washed and chopped ingredients for other dishes. The sweet and tangy flavours from this dish are most remarkable, and all the more memorable. Well, we are not of Hainanese descent, so truth be told, I’m not sure where and from whom my mother learnt this dish from. Was it from one of the zup chai png stalls in Chinatown? Or was it from the famous Hainanese curry rice stall that opened only during the wee hours of the morning near Kovan? Being the clever woman she was, this was definitely well within her means to have reverse-engineered it. But one thing remained certain till this very day, my mother’s Hainanese Deep Fried Pork Chops were simply delish!!!