Friday, November 26, 2010

Culinary Treats I'm Thankful For {Thanksgiving Ed.}

Durian. I know. A little bit intimidating, ehh?

Thanksgiving weekend has always been exhausting for me. The dinner part, the gathering part, and the part where we all religiously participate in a glorified commercial conspiracy by purchasing goods that we're not even sure we need - called Black Friday. So I think it's always nice to step back and count our blessings.

As for me, I'm immensely thankful for the strong network of support I have. Personally and professionally. Be it my family, friends, mentors, or professional acquaintances, I truly am grateful for the inspiration and comfort they have provided me. Without them I would be nowhere near where I am today.

Now that I'm done with the sarcastic and the mellow part, here are the twelve most amazing culinary treats ever created in this world (that I was lucky enough to have tasted) that have constituted a gastronomic euphoria in my dictionary. I am thankful for the very existence of:

1. Roasted Peking Duck. This one needs no introduction. With its crispy skin sheltering a generous layer of melts-in-your mouth fat, supported by a vulnerable bed of succulent meat on the bottom, this one is a true winner.

2.Chasiu/Barbecued pork meat. It's an undoubtedly pure form of beauty.

3. Bakut Teh/Pork Bone Tea Soup. Great-tasting, traditional ingredients nurtured by long hours of labor and love. This dish is very comforting - almost sacred - to me.

4. Kepiting Saus Padang/Crab in Padang Chilli Sauce. Hot and spicy. This one's pretty similar to Singaporean Chilli Crab.

5. Nasi Padang. A traditional Indonesian rice dish accompanied by a myriad variety of options: ayam pop (chicken cooked with coconut water, ginger, lemongrass, etc), gulai ayam (chicken curry), telor balado (eggs cooked with chili and shrimp paste), rendang, krecek (gelatinous crackers made of cow skin), daun singkong (cassava leaves), cabe ijo (green chili), etc. I also take pleasure in having a generous pour of the curry sauce all over my rice.

6. Sharkfin Soup. Oh gosh, don't even get me started on this one.

7. Chinese-style Seafood Hotpot. A piping hot claypot of fried Japanese silky soft tofu with squid, sea cucumber, shiitake mushrooms, shrimp, fish, and vegetables swimming in a very tasty, thick broth.

8. Fresh, glistening slivers of sashimi. The list includes sake/salmon, toro/fatty tuna, awabi/abalone, mirugai/geoduck/giant clam, hotate/scallop, uni/sea urchin, and ikura/salmon roe. And a side order of ankimo/monkfish liver, please.

9. I love veal, especially when cooked with good wine. And its leg, loin, shank, brisket, cheek, rack, liver, and chops. Not so much of the scallopini, though. Braised, stewed, sauteed, stuffed, you name it. And oh- did I mention braised? A phrase delivered by a server at one of my favorite Italian restaurants that immediately won my heart was: "Anything that can be done to veal, we can do it for you."

10. Bouncy, good- looking sea scallops. Grilled, sauteed, in a hot pot, or simply raw.

11. Martabak Manis. My favorite dessert of all time, with its crunchy crust and indulgent, shiny butter gushing out from the middle when you put pressure on the top. No mousse, souffle, cheesecake, flan, or tart can beat this.

12. Durian. So Andrew Zimmern can't stand it, so what? If they sell durian scent in a form of air freshener, I'd get one. Or three.

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