30 (Mon) November 2015
Kam-Heong Pan-Fried Prawns
-City Centre, Kuala Lumpur-
with staff and temporary advisors
Mission to Malaysia, Day 2 (see previously 6.328 #7 Paku Sambal Belacan).
In Kuala Lumpur. Here to facilitate a regional workshop on restricting the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children, Tuesday to Friday. Arrived yesterday, leading an advance team to finalize preparations. Flying back Saturday.
NS — respected colleague, personal friend, dietary arch-nemesis — recently told me this joke : How do you know if someone is a vegetarian? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.
Within minutes of being seated, even before opening the menus, one of our group dropped the v-bomb : “Oh, just so you know, I’m a vegetarian.” Of course, it’s not just so we know; rather, it’s a passive-aggressive message that she’s hoping/expecting/asking/telling us to order things that will be acceptable to her higher dietary standards, as vegetarians so often do (see generally 5.150 American-Style Greek Salad). So then, as non-vegetarians so often do when eating with a vegetarian, everyone starts suggesting vegetable items. For my part, I quietly ordered a shrimp dish as my contribution (see also 5.187 Oven-Baked Prawn Tails).
Kam heong is a Malaysian stir-fry sauce. No two recipes are alike, but the basic formula involves a melanage of aromatics (e.g., garlic, shallot, chili) with a Chinese seasoning base (e.g., soy, oyster, black bean), Indian spices (e.g., curry powder, curry leaves), and Indonesian condiments (e.g., sambal olek) — a quintessential Malaysian fusion of extreme yet balanced flavors. The term means “golden (kam) + heong (fragrant).” The sauce can be applied to anything, most commonly shrimp, clams, or chicken.
When the first round of food arrived, our would-be so-called vegetarian seemed quite enamored with the kam heong shrimp. “Well, technically, I’m what you might call a pescatarian.” Technically, I might’ve called her something else but held back. Reminded me of a former colleague who’d also characterize herself as vegetarian while eating seafood (see generally 5.209 Animal Assault).
From then on, I took over the ordering and made sure to order only items involving non-aqautic animals.
Overall, the food was rather disappointing. More Malaysian than classically Chinese, but lacking any punch.
Perhaps the vegetarian/pescatarian issue had embittered my palate.