6.329 Kam-Heong Pan-Fried Prawns


30 (Mon) November 2015

Kam-Heong Pan-Fried Prawns


at Hakka

-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.

Hakka is a Chinese restaurant, founded in 1954 (according to the sign), located directly across the street from the hotel.
Beer girls!

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.  

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Her first email to me, in the context of a trip to Fiji a couple years back (see generally 5.179 Mama Kokoda…); though we didn’t end up meeting that time, she was soon transferred to Manila, whereupon she reintroduced herself in person to me as a vegetarian (see generally 5.320 How I Managed to Dine with a Vegan…).

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).

Extra Smooth Boxed Tofu (2.0)
Paku Sambal Belacan (2.5)
Eight Varieties Vegetables in Bean Curd Sauce (1.5)

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.

That’s her hand, digging in for a second helping.

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.

Black Bean & Chili Chicken (2.5)
Beef Char Kway Teo (1.5)
Soy Pork & Onions (2.5)

Overall, the food was rather disappointing.  More Malaysian than classically Chinese, but lacking any punch.

Perhaps the vegetarian/pescatarian issue had embittered my palate.

2 thoughts on “6.329 Kam-Heong Pan-Fried Prawns

  1. I was actually a vegetarian for three years, and a fairly strict one. No rennet cheeses, marshmallows, cannot come in contact with meat products, etc. Preparing food for me was a huge pain in the ass apparently.

    On a tangential note to “fake” vegetarians, something that irks me to no end are the people who will pull aside waiters and stress with great emphasis about their allergies and intolerances (allergic to garlic, gluten sensitive), only to inhale an entire loaf of garlic bread or order a bigass beer after the meal.

  2. just be sure, i’ll say again that i have nothing against vegetarianism or even vegetarians per se.

    it’s just the ones who use it manipulate others.

    about your stint as a vegetarian, did you announce it at the table when eating with new people? did you bring it up in conversation, even if you weren’t discussing eating plans?

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