6.328 #7 Paku Sambal Belacan


29 (Sun) November 2015

 #7 Paku Sambal Belacan


at Grandmama’s (Pavilion)

-City Centre, Kuala Lumpur-


In the arrival terminal, seconds after getting off the plane…
…we were bombarded by sales and marketing displays for junk food.
This one clearly targeting children…
…through such techniques as interactive games…
…further incentivized with branded items, including toys, watches, clothing, and of course “free” M&Ms.
Elsewhere, I noticed this tweener browsing the candy shop…
…live in action, falling for the marketing traps…
…but then her mother/guardian saw me taking photos and frowned, likely assuming the worse, so I quickly put away the camera and ran before she could called airport security (“Officer, wait, I can explain, it’s not that I like little girls…”).

Mission to Malaysia, Day 1.

In Kuala Lumpur.  Here to facilitate a regional workshop on restricting the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children — evidently, we’re in the right place for it — Tuesday to Friday.  Arrived this afternoon, leading an advance team to finalize preparations.  Flying back Saturday.

Grandmama’s is a Malaysian restaurant, located in Pavilion, an enormous mall across the street from our hotel.
Would’ve preferred something less mainstream/gentrified, but it was right there, and I didn’t have the energy to go out in search of more adventurous fare.
Then again, a place like this, offering a selection of the famous/popular foods, may be the just the thing for someone new to the cuisine, like me.

Sambal Belacan is a Malaysian condiment.  Chili sauce (sambal) + shrimp paste (belacan) + lime juice (or other citrus) = spicy, salty, fishy, sour.   Used in wide range of applications, as a dip, topping, marinade, stir-fry seasoning.  Often cited as the country’s national condiment.

90 potential variations! Each at 22.50 MYR (about 5 USD) or less!

The stir-fried paku (fern) with sambal belacan was good.  Spicy, salty, fishy, sour, as expected, yet somehow still light — a perfect representation of the cuisine’s tendency towards extreme and balanced flavor combinations — exactly what I was hoping for.

#8 Ayam Masak Merah (2.5) — spicy and sweet, another example of extreme flavors.
#2 Dry Fried Sang Har Egg Noodles (1.5) — contrary to the blurb on the menu — “Get ready for a lip-smaking experience…” — I found the dish to be rather boring :  texturally unsatisfying, all goop and no crunch; no depth of flavor, at least none that my palate could detect —  perhaps it had a nuance lost on my untrained palate, or more likely because the heads of the sang (fresh) har (prawn) had been taken off, thus depriving the sauce of the richness that comes from the brains/guts/roe.

Stoked to be in one of the great food cities of the world!  Though unlikely to have much time to explore, I look forward to every new experience that I can get.

Leave a Reply