Tuesday, May 08, 2007

teh, satay, and stayin together

Who would have thought you can blog 1500 metres above sea level?

I'm sitting here with a borrowed ibook (thanks matt), typing this out on the cool lounge of Daniel's Lodge (info here). It's been a perfect afternoon. Was at the teh plantation tourist trap teh shop having my overpriced fresh teh and not so fresh scones, but wat saved the day was reading up on the new issue of Off The Edge magazine I picked up in Ipoh. The May issue is, as usual, a quality read. I'm reproducing an excerpt of Hishamuddin Rais's tapai article below; he does a riff on satay and satay sauce which I really love.

check this out

Off The Edge - may 2007

Satay and wine
by Hishamuddin Rais

Early this year, I was by chance taken by a friend to a Kedai Satay in Keramat. He had frequented this kedai several times. This kedai has only one menu item - satay. This is a signature of a good eating place, very specialised and very artisan. Never trust any restaurant or kedai makan that boasts hundreds of dishes. This is a con job to lure the uninitiated into the taste of monosodium glumate.

I revisted this Kedai Satay recently. This time, I was well prepared with a half-bottle of Lucas California red and two plastic cups. It was a risky affair, but good eating is about taking risks. I took the table furthest from the main counter. When a beautiful, well-mannered Indonesian waitress appeared before me, I ordered satay ayam, satay daging, satay perut babat and satay hati - the entire collection of this satay house. For my drink, air suam.

It was an early Sunday evening, the kedai was rather empty. The tukang bakar was a youngish bloke in a red t shirt sweating himself in front of the extra long grill full of red, burning charcoal. The traditional kipas has gone forever - replaced by small electric fan.

The fundamentals of satay are: fresh meat well-marinated with the requisite spices. Beef should e from the T-bone or daging batang pinang. Intestines can be large or small. Chicken satay is simpler; chicken meat being always tender and easy to chew. But unlike beef, which can be consumed half cooked, chicken must always be well grilled.

Kedai Zainah Ismail's satay is really of top rank. Satay daging always failed me. Most times I avoid satay daging because it is hard and unpleasant to chew on. At Kedai Zainah, the satay daging was soft, tender and sweet - the meat must have come from daging batang pinang. The perut babat was excellent. For the uninitiated, satay perut can be a problem for its 'peruti' smell, but for the me, this aroma is rather erotic - a mixture of human BO that only occurs in the split second before orgasm. The the next sexual encounter, one should keep this in mind.

Hati or liver should never be turned into satay at all. Liver is 'unmarinated' because of the thin membrane that protects it. No spice can penetrate this skin. Liver itself is a rich composite that has its own particular strong taste. I did not rejoice at the satay hati despite the beautifully brown peanut sauce.

Yes, kuah satay or peanut sauce is part of the satay ritual. Let you not be mistaken - well-marinated satay with flawed kuah kacang will not help your evening. A brilliant satay sauce is of no aid to poorly marinated, hard meat. Satay sauce and the beef or chicken must keep in tempo, just like John and Yoko - there would be no Imagine without That Piano.

for the rest of the article, go get the magazine (link here)

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in my rush to pack for this trip, I happened to load a whole bunch of really old music into my dopod, which left me with a lot of reminiscing, re-discovering a whole bunch of tracks i thought i have forgotten

one of em happened to be Suede's live version of Stay Together

like John and Yoko, Brett and Bernard was completely in tempo in the first half of the song. but once the chorus slides out and the solo bridge comes in, you can hear the roar of bernard's guitar just ripping through the chords.

its no secret that by the time the single Stay Together was released, brett and bernard were not in good terms. and by the time the band got touring, things just got worse between them.

brett was kind enough to fade back while bernard worked the solo, howling out his pain and frustration through the strings. and when he was done, brett served in with a wonderful stammering riff revolving around the phrase "16 tears for every year". each man worked on and worked in the other's melodies, pulling and ripping apart the other, then adding and melding to build up a crescendo that went on and on. when they were done, the crowd just went nuts.

bernard left the band shortly after the tour. but for that moment, this was what made Suede great. the hits that followed from Coming Up were good (Beautiful Ones, Thrash, Chemistry Between Us), but nothing could beat that grandeur and tension of Stay Together.
two undeniable forces working in tempo, just like John and Yoko, way back in the day.