At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014


Sometimes you just know where the cook is from by what he suggests you eat. Despite a propensity to gout, one obeys, knowing that the man has one's best interests at heart. He's a poet with a wok. Which, given that in recent years I haven't traveled much, I enjoy remembering, as it was a fabulous restaurant in an otherwise rather ghastly place.

The tropical zone has cockroaches the size of a cookie. No, they are not edible. One of those big fat bastards is an infestation, the geckos are terrified of him. Her.

There are also snakes there. And even minor scrapes easily become infected, due to the heat (100°F) and humidity.

Everybody should visit the tropics.
It's edumacational.

[Why is spell-check telling me to change that word? It's standard everyday English, fercrapsaeks.]

As a side note, that's where I first started powdering my feet (and socks, and the inside of my shoes) preventively. Powdered feet are happy feet. Yes, my shoes look like I work in a pizzeria, but trust me, my dogs are just about twirling in ecstasy.

They are white and dry.
Silky too.

Few dishes are as iconic as the Hokkien oyster omelette.


A dozen large fresh oysters, shucked.
Two TBS rice flour.
One TBS cornflour.
Half a cup (eight TBS) water.
Three cloves garlic, minced.
Three eggs, beaten.
One TBS sherry or rice wine.
One TBS soy sauce (regular or ketjap manis).
Generous pinch of ground white pepper.
Some minced chives and cilantro.

Rinse the oysters in cold water, making sure to remove all shell fragments, and pat dry. Beat the eggs with the white pepper sprinkled in.
Mix cornflour and rice flour, pour in the water slowly while stirring to make a fairly thin batter. Gild the garlic in your skillet add the rice wine to seethe, and remove to a small plate. Add more oil to the pan, and when it's hot, pour in the thin batter and cook briefly till half set before adding the beaten eggs. When the omelette is semi-firmed but still deliquescious, add the oysters and garlic, drizzle the soy sauce over, and loosen the omelette with a spatula. Cook a few seconds longer, then garnish liberally with the minced chives and cilantro, and decant to a plate.

Wherever you find Hokkien Chinese, you will find an oyster fry. In many places the oysters are rather small, and the egg is mixed with sweet potato flour. This version allows for a crispier taste underneath the eggs because of the batter, and I prefer large oysters to tiny ones.
As with all Singapore - Penang - Glodok streetfoods and late night eats, squeeze some lime juice over, and eat with sambal. Lots of sambal.

The last time I had oyster omelette, I was cooking for myself, so I only used seven oysters and two eggs. Yes, I ended up with gout. And consequently had very interesting dreams during the night.
But it was worth it.
So worth it.

NOTE: the shorter name (蠔煎 'o chian') is more commonly used in Hokkien, which is the language of Fujian province, and of many of the overseas Chinese in South-East Asia. It simply means 'oyster pan-fry'. The longer term (蠔仔煎蛋) is more Cantonese (hence the Yue transliteration 'hou chai jin daan'), and includes the words 'oyster' (蠔), a common diminutive suffix (仔), 'pan-fry' (煎), and 'egg' (蛋).

Sambal is 'laat chiu jeung' (辣椒醬), which is an essential element of your larder. Unless you're from the fly-over states; in that case you probably use 'faan ke jeung' (番茄醬 tomato ketchup).

I understand it is often hot (100°F) in the fly-overs.
But not nearly educational.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

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