Suan Pan Zi (算盘子)

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Sometimes, calculators just can't compare with abaci. Calculators aren't edible, nor do they bring you wealth and good luck . . . .

Of course, you can't eat an abacus either but you can make abacus beads, aka suan pan zi (算盘子). These little discs which look like their namesake are a delicious Hakka noodle that's served stir-fried or in a soup.

SPZ come with a feature that no calculator could ever have. If you eat suan pan zi during Chinese New Year, your abacus will be click-clacking non-stop in the new year, counting the amount of money you will have! Yup, hand on heart, that's absolutely true.

Spicy Dried Prawns – Hae Bee Hiam (蝦米香)

Thursday, 5 November 2009

PhotobucketYesterday, my neighbour gave me some groceries 'cause she was going away for a couple of weeks. It was mostly fruits and vegetables, stuff that she couldn't keep for much longer. There was a whole pile of shallots and garlic which were either perishing or flourishing, depending on how you looked at it. I didn't want to waste the budding bulbs, so some emergency action was needed to terminate the 'growing ambitions'. I sliced off the freshly sprouted roots and a few tiny shoots, and stripped off the peel. Ground up the lot with dried chillies and dried prawns, and made Spicy Dried Prawns – Hae Bee Hiam in local parlance – the first time in many years. Mum used to make it quite often back when she rendered lard every fortnight or so. The crispy lardons from cooking pork fat were finely chopped, then fried with lots of finely pounded dried chillies, shallots, garlic and dried shrimps. That was really old world food at its best, I tell you. We had another way for eating freshly fried lardons, by the way. Sprinkled with a bit of sugar and dipped in light soya sauce. I kid you not.

It seemed like a lot of work when I made Hae Bee Hiam yesterday, despite using a mini chopper instead of a mortar and pestle. So I really savoured my homemade Spicy Dried Prawns even though it didn't have any lardons. And it was a bit too finely chopped and lacked a bit of texture. Next time, I will leave some small dried prawns whole. Might even render some pork fat for a just-like-Mum-made-it version!

I gave some Spicy Dried Prawns to my brother, the one who drives from Tampines to Jurong to get his Hae Bee Hiam fix at I-don't- know-which hawker centre. He was over the moon, to put it mildly. And offered to exchange more Hae Bee Hiam with his sprouting garlic and shallots. Gosh, what's with all these people growing plants in the fridge? Maybe I should give them a few plant pots?

Check these out:
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Prawns with
Salted Egg Yolks
Prawns with
Red Fermented
Beancurd
Prawn Tom
Yum Soup
Kung Pao Prawns