Friday, March 23, 2007

A nostalgic salad

We're in KL (Kuala Lumpur) at the moment, having spent the last 4/5 days prior to this in Singapore. All we've been doing since we got to Singapore on the 16th was EAT EAT EAT and SHOP SHOP SHOP. Such is our "hard life". LOL

Jumped on the bus to KL on Wednesday and since we arrived in KL, the only thing that's changed is that we've not been EATING as much as we were. Just shopping as much.. if not MORE than what we did before.

Ellie over at Kitchen Wench has initiated a once-off event called "Nostalgia", inviting everyone to share with her a nostalgic memory, something from our past that's heart engraved in our memories through a food experience.

For both Alv and I, nothing is more nostalgic for us than returning to our countries of birth.

Alv spent the first 8 years of his life in Singapore, attending one of the famous ACS (Anglo Chinese School) institutions with his older brother Jerome. This marks his second trip back to Singapore, the first one being in 2004, straight after he renounced his Singapore citizenship. It's like trip down memory lane all over again for him. Every where we go and each area we drive through in Singapore brings back many memories of his childhood there. His family left Singapore for Australia when he was about 8 and in a sense, he missed out on a whole lot of Singapore: the experiences of growing up in the Singapore Education system, the food in Singapore (congee for lunch every Saturday after Saturday school) and most of all growing up with his extended family in Singapore.

I on the other hand, spent 17 years in Malaysia. Growing up in the little town of Ipoh. I went through the whole curricular system in Ipoh, got my drivers and motorcycle license when I was 17 (yeah!) and zoomed around Ipoh from one end to another in my mum's little Honda C70 and most of all I made heaps of friends in all those years. I have so many memories of growing up in Ipoh - my first car accident, first motorcycle accident, first crush.. you name it, I've probably experienced it.

Ipoh was also where I last saw my Aunt Lisa, in 1994 when I turned 15. My Aunt Lisa (mum's younger sister) came back from New York for a short visit around the time of my 15th birthday. It was extremely memorable for me partly because I couldn't remember the last time I saw her prior to my 15th birthday and mostly because she threw me the last birthday party I ever had. The last birthday party, because I haven't had anyone throw me a birthday celebration since. ;| (I don't throw parties for me either LOL)

Aunt Lisa threw me a birthday party when she found out that it was my birthday. You could almost say that she forced the party onto me and commanded that I invite friends over to our place for the party. It was so long ago that I can't even remember much of what happened at the party. I remembered celebrating it with about 10 of my closest friends back then of which I only remember 5: Aud, CC, JF, Jacqui and Boon; and the only other thing that I remembered clearly was the salad that my aunt made for the party.

Back then I wasn't as exposed to "western food" as I am now. Western food back then was anything American, like hamburgers, hot dogs, coleslaw, steak and ribs. The salad my aunt made was something we associated with Western type food and I remembered it well because back then western food was like my favourite kinda food. Only because we couldn't appreciate the quality of good local food and it was a novelty thing when you're young because western style food was more expensive and considered a higher standard delicacy compared to the local hawker food.

It's not a special salad or anything, in fact I'm not even sure of the origins of the salad. However, it is the most simple and versatile salad I've ever had as it is made with staple fridge/freezer ingredients. I've never remembered to ask the name of it from my aunt but mum and I have always referred to it as Aunt Lisa's American Salad.

For Ellie's Nostalgia event:

Aunt Lisa's American Salad

1 small apple (green or red)
1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed*
1/4 cup corn kernels*
1/2 small carrots (or 1 small baby carrot)*
1 hard boiled egg, peeled and chopped
1 small boiled potato, peeled and chopped
1 large slice of virginian ham (or your favourite ham), sliced

approx 1/4 cup of your favourite mayonaise
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and chop the apple into small pieces. Soak chopped apple in a small bowl with cold water and about 1/8 tsp of salt. This will prevent the pieces of apple from browning.

Meanwhile, peel and chop up the carrot. Blanch the carrot in hot water until the carrots are soft but still firm, rinse with cold water and then set aside to cool.

Drain the apple pieces from the salt water. Rinse quickly in cold water and dry before placing the apple into a large bowl.

Place the remaining ingredients into the bowl. Toss salad with mayonaise and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cover the salad and place into the fridge for about 20mins before serving.

Serve with bread rolls.

Serves 2.

You can vary the amount of mayonaise you use for the dressing.(My dressing measurements are only approximates as I usually don't measure it, I'm pretty sure that I don't use more than 1/4 cup of mayonaise though, so I've used that as an approximate)

***These three ingredients can be replaced with 3/4 cup of mixed frozen vegetables if you have any in the freezer.

It's that simple! The salad would be made simpler if you have some mixed frozen veges in the fridge. I sometimes omit the carrots (because it's not really my favourite vege) and double up on the ham or egg.

I always make this salad when I miss my aunt. It's the only thing I remember about her, apart from her spelling my name with an E as in 'I Leng' instead of I-Ling. I love my aunt, she's a cool aunt! We haven't seen her for almost 13 years since she last threw me that party. She's still living in America, somewhere in Boston with her husband and two little cousins whom I've never met. I hope to see her one day, if not soon. But in the mean time.. this salad is all I have to remember her by...

ps. I was hoping to recreate the salad here in KL with local ingredients which would make it ever more nostalgic! But unfortunately the condominium where we're staying at doesn't come with a kitchen, so I wasn't able to make it hence.. no picture of the salad... :|

1 comment:

Steven said...

Love the story here. My food nostalgia that first comes to mind is mum's spaghetti bolognese with a twist. She added fresh julienne cucumber and boiled eggs. I remember it fondly! Also, I've just noticed you've linked to my site. Thanks! I've done the same to yours. :)