Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! It’s the last stretch of 2016,and I think most of us are already on holiday mood (even if we have to go to work :P). Me, I’ve been pigging out… comforting myself in the thought that I can start my diet next year.
…..Okay so I say that every year and it never works. lol. But I digress.
Craving for supper, C, S and I went to check out the International Food Cultural Festival at Tesco Puchong a few days ago, where there are dozens of food stalls featuring snacks from China and Taiwan. The fest will be making its way around Malaysia, and the Puchong leg will be around until January 2 2017.
Despite the rain, there was a sizable crowd. Everything is cashless, so visitors buy load cards worth RM10, RM5 and RM1 at the front counter. Prices are steep, but hey, it’s not everyday you get a street food market in Puchong like this :D
I haven’t been to a night market for the longest time, so it was interesting to see some of the latest food trends, like octopus balls on skewers, spiral potatoes on sticks, fried ice cream and more. There were also well-loved ‘traditional’ favourites like oyster pancakes, noodles and gaozi (panfried dumplings).
Sorry, couldn’t get the guy out of the background .__.
C dragged me to one of the stalls. Immediately upon entering its vicinity, I could smell a pungent odour that I can only describe as half sewage/half dirty socks.
“Stinky tofu!” C exclaimed while I wrinkled my nose.
I know a lot of people like this deep fried fermented street snack, a popular item in Taiwan, but I could never get past its smell long enough for me to take a bite.
C insisted we get a packet. I thought hey, life’s short, so why the hell not xD
Freshly fried on the spot.
So why is stinky tofu, well, stinky?
Traditionally, the process (which can take several months) involves making a brine from fermented milk, vegetables and meat; sometimes it also includes dried shrimps, amaranth greens, mustard greens, bamboo shoots and Chinese herbs. The tofu is then soaked in this and left to ferment. But to keep up with modern demand, factories often mass produce stinky tofu and it is only marinated for a day or two to get that distinctive smell.
Legend has it that it was invented by a guy called Wang Zhi-He during the Qing Dynasty in China. He had a lot of unsold tofu left over from his business, so he cut them up and put them in an earthern jar. After a few days, he opened it up and found that it had turned green and smelly. Upon tasting it, he found it delicious so he started selling it at his stall. Although why someone would risk death by eating tofu that looks like it has gone bad is beyond me.
Sauces and condiments added to the tofu – chilli oil, spicy sauce, a dab of kimchi.
Well, it tasted and looked better than it smelled, that’s for sure.
The tofu was tasteless, so it was the sauce that gave it flavour. I liked the chilli oil, since it was fragrant and spicy, giving the snack an extra kick. The tofu was fried well with a crispy texture on the outside, while being soft and silken on the inside.
After trying it, it wasn’t so bad but I don’t think I’d voluntarily queue up to get it if I’m ever in a night market. :D
Also had deep fried whole squid, which turned out to be pretty tasteless despite the extra seasoning I requested.
Another popular night market snack in Taiwan – chicken wings stuffed with rice and grilled over a charcoal fire. The stall said we had to wait 10 minutes for one since they were still cooking, so I got their chicken drumstick stuffed with ham and cheese instead – kinda like a Taiwanese-style roulade. It was tasty and tender.
Wo tie (fried dumplings). They were small and soaked in oil, but the vinegar dip lessened the greasiness.
Fried ice-cream rolls are a common sight in the street markets in Thailand. The mixture is spread onto a pan/grille, then rolled into thin sheets. This is then topped with various condiments and sweet sauces like chocolate, syrup, candy, etc. S wanted Mango but it wasn’t available and I ran out of credit, so didn’t get to try it. :/
Washed everything down with a large cup of fruit juice – mix of watermelon and dragon fruit. Cool and refreshing!
The International Food Cultural Festival will be on until January 2 2017 in front of Tesco Puchong from 5PM-12AM daily. Their next stops will be at Tesco Ipoh Bercham (6-15 January 2017), Tesco Bukit Mertajam, and Tesco Pulau Pinang.