Don't Call It Fusion, Call It Accent: A Tale of Two Copper Spoons at Surry Hills
At this moment, my once beautiful copper spoons are soaking in some cleaning solution I Googled minutes before. I think it's a good idea to throw baking soda into the mix because, as we know, why not.. I do use a teaspoon of baking soda in my washing machine, especially when my gym clothes are in the mix. *Gasp* "You mix filthy socks and sweatpants with fancy t-shirts??!!" Yes. And I mix black, white, red clothes together, because
(Fast forward to a few Hours later: I think I over-soaked the spoons with my silly formula and now they look not much better that before).
Tale of The Two Spoons:
I bought these two spoons from my vacation last year, from a random shop in Surry Hills. My husband and I were chattering to ourselves, I'd like to think, rather softly as we were thumbing through the items in the shop eherghehergh.
As we paid for our items, the shopkeeper asked if we were Malaysians. I exclaimed, "Aaaahh, how didju know??" She said she is married to one and we continued chatting. She said that when excited Malaysians congregate, our accent is naturally eXXaaaggerated and how she missed being a part of that. My husband and I looked at each other, slightly bemused and didn't think much of it until his cousin said something similar and that our 'sound effects' felt very comforting and warm to her. I guess our mixture of Malay words peppered with "Lahs", Chinese exclamations like "ya mehhh" "Issss ittttt" or when we want to make a point without being offensive we add "ma" e.g. "You should have told me...maaa" or Hokkien swear words like (please feel free to fill in the blanks), make us sound like an orchestra!
Making Budae Jjigae at home
I love chewy rice cakes (tteokbokki). I love it so much I replay videos to get the pronunciation right. I love it so much I smile involuntarily when I see it in the supermarket or when I'm scrolling through the Gram.
To make this dish, firstly I fry the frozen rice cakes lightly with some oil to brown it a little, although I think this step probably isn't necessary. I'm just being extra.
Then add water and bring it to a boil until they are about 95% done. Set it aside, and keep the liquid.
Don't cook them til 100% because they go into the pan again.
So here, I add two large soup spoons of cili boh and 2 tsp of gochujang for taste.
I know it sounds strange but I'm thinking it would work because the strong taste profile of the cili boh will give the broth a more interesting dimension to balance the lighter and fermented-smelling gochujang.
I think mushrooms add a beautiful earthiness to dishes, so in you go before you rot in my fridge.
Next add chillies, tofu and water at a level that is enough to submerge the ramen noodle.
I use Ottogi ramen this time because it doesn't come with a flavour sachet.
As the noodle boils, add rice cakes, tofu, sausages, spam if you have.I didn't use spam here.
When the noodle is done, turn off the heat. Now add the thinly sliced beef and stir.
The beef is completely cooked even with the fire off. You can literally see it cook as you stir it into the piping hot broth.
Next, lay the fresh spinach leaves for iron and wonderful goodness because God knows this whole dish is very sinful.
Add boiled eggs if you like.
Is this a Fusion dish? I think many chefs hate the F word as much as they hate salmonella because it suggests that the dish is not authentic. Not fake, just not pure I guess. But you know what, thank goodness I'm not a celebrated chef, so I'm just going to cook whatever I like, how bout dah? In fact, I'll cook jjigae minus gochujang as my next experiment.
The way I see it, it's not fusion, it's my accent. Just as I can't help going "Waaaaahhh..issssss it??" I can't help loving spicy food and the comforting tastes of Indian, Malay and Chinese food I have grown up with. So it is only natural for me to incorporate these taste profiles. Like Marco Pierre White said of Pierre Koffmann, "Great chefs have three things in common. ONE: They accept and respect that Mother Nature is the true artist...and they are the cook. TWO: Everything that they do becomes an extension of them as a person. AND THREE: They give you an insight into the world they were born into. The world which inspired them and they serve it on that plate."
Watch the full address at Oxford Union here:
Excerpt taken from 29:38 - 30:07