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Archive for November, 2007

Origins

Some believe that satay was invented by Chinese immigrants who sold the skewered barbecue meat on the street. Their argument is that the word satay means “triple stacked” (三疊) in Amoy dialect, and indeed, satay is often made with three flat lozenges of meat.

It is also possible that it was invented by Malay or Javanese street vendors influenced by the Arabian kebab. The explanation draws on the fact that satay only became popular after the early 19th century, also the time of the arrival of a major influx of Arab immigrants in the region. The satay meats popularly used by Indonesians and Malaysians, mutton and beef, are also traditionally favoured by Arabs and are not as popular in China as are pork and chicken.

Malaysia

Known as sate in Malay (and pronounced similar to the English), it can be found throughout every state in Malaysia. Besides restaurants that serve satays, one can find hawkers selling satay in food courts and Pasar malam. While the popular kinds of satay are usually beef and chicken satays, different regions of Malaysia have developed their own unique variations of satay.

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This is a chinese owned satay stall situated in Glutton Square along Jalan Shahbandar. It is non-halal, it served only pork satay (sate). On busy days you will see 3 people manning the stall, the owner, his wife and his father. On other days, it’s just the owner and his dad.

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Sometimes during festivities, the owner gets orders of hundreds of sticks per order, so if you don’t mind waiting you can come back later to pick up your food. Here you can see the owner busy grilling the satay over the open fire. (Pardon the smoke screen, no nice angle and the road was also very busy).

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Another view of my order of 15 satays getting prepared. They still use the convential method of charcoal fire instead of the electric ones, cause of the smell once the satay is cooked differ with the methods of cooking.

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Their stall isn’t very big, just a simple street side stall, a charcoal oven, some tables behind the stall for putting their raw satay and ketupats. This is one of the trays where they placed the raw skewered meat before they are taken to the fire. The oil that you see coming out from the satays are actually spices mixture (which includes ginger, thats why its yellow).

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To complete the satay combo, you can never do without the ketupat (a type of rice dumpling that is wrapped in a woven palm pouch which is then boiled). Some other stalls have the option of adding shredded onions or cucumber in addition to the satay and ketupat. The owner has the last 3 pieces of ketupat in his basket. Business must be really good that day.

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This is satay gravy. Its also called the spicy peanut sauce dip or peanut gravy. Its main ingredients are crushed peanuts, chilli powder, lemon grass, onions and garlic. This particular stall gravy is thick. Some other stalls have gravy that are so liquid that you can drink them with a straw. Thick gravy means when you dip your satay in it, the crushed peanuts is coated to your satay sticks and the taste is simply heavenly.

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A simple fare of satay dish consist all the protein, carbohydrates and vitamins you need (not forgetting the sinful cholesterol levels that comes with it).

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Otak-otak is a fish cake found throughout Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.  It is also known as otah-otah, otah or otak in Singapore. It can be eaten as a snack or with bread or rice as part of a meal.

Otak-otak is made by mixing fish paste (usually mackerel) with a mixture of spices including chillies, garlic, shallots, turmeric, lemon grass and coconut milk. The mixture is then wrapped in a banana leaf that has been softened by steaming, then grilled or steamed.

While fish otak-otak is most common, otak-otak is also commonly made with prawns, often resulting in a more textured variety.  

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I have been quite a regular patron at this stall at Glutton Square. There are a few otak-otak stalls over there, this one is located at the end of the square (near the junction to YC Superstore). That’s the owner busy grilling the otak-otak to some customers. The lady giving the ‘V’ sign is the owner of the BBQ chicken wings next to this stall ( I will review it later).

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What I like about this stall is that the owner is very friendly and the price is competitive. Furthermore the otak-otak is quite thick and its not so salty like the ones sold at other stalls. The spicyness is also just right.

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Here you can find the owner grilling the otak-otak over the electric grill. (That’s my order).

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Usually after grilling he will immediately wrap the otak-otak up, its best to take this when its hot.

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My orders of 40 otak-otak freshly grilled.

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The texture of otak-otak is just nice. It was not overdone (burnt). When you people come back or visit this town, do give this stall a visit, you won’t regret it.

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Traditionally, after the wedding ceremony, the newlyweds serve tea (holding the teacups with both hands), inviting the groom’s elders to drink tea by addressing them by formal title, e.g. eldest brother or third sister.

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The general rule is to have the woman on the left side and the man on the right side. The people being served will sit in chairs. During olden times the groom and bride will kneel, but nowadays most do them standing up.

The newlyweds serve tea in order, starting with the groom’s parents then proceeding from the oldest family members to the youngest, e.g. the groom’s parents, his oldest uncle and auntie, then to his brothers and sisters.

The bride serving tea to the groom’s mother.

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Serving tea to the groom’s eldest brother.

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The groom’s eldest sister.

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In return, the newlyweds receive lucky red envelopes/packets (“lai see” which means lucky) stuffed with money or jewelry. The helpers, who are usually women blessed with a happy marriage or wealth and chosen by  the fortune teller or groom’s mother, also get lucky red envelopes/packet stuffed with money from those being served. These envelopes are placed on the platter which holds the teacups.

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With this ends the wedding ceremony according to chinese customs.

 

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Last week I took a leave from work to attend and help my girlfriend’s family in the preparation of her youngest uncle wedding. I took a few pictures here and there before at the end of the day, I was one of the drivers for the elderly parents and some relatives to the wedding dinner at Sea View Restaurant.

 

I thought I was early when I arrived at her house at 7:30 a.m. But I was kinda late since most of the relatives as well as the groom’s ‘brothers’ were already there. The groom’s entourage were getting ready and planning to go to the bride’s house to fetch her. They were seen whispering among themselves about how to counter-attack the hurdles that they are going to face later.

 

When they have decided how to go about that, they took off.

 

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While the groom was away, the house was a buzz of activity, refreshments were prepared and taken out. This is to let the guests have something to eat while the couple go through some customary rites during the ceremony.

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This pair of candles are known as the dragon and phoenix candles. They always come in pairs and are decorated one with a dragon and the other with a phoenix, as well as the double happiness symbol. In olden days, these traditional candles would be lit in the bridal chamber on the wedding night with the intention to drive away evil spirits.

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The happy parents (my girlfriend’s grandfather and grandmother) of the youngest uncle waiting for the arrival of the couple, both looking rather handsome and pretty in their new clothes.

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Some of the relatives lingering at the front entrance waiting for the arrival of the couple.

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And then we heard, the car horns honking on the street signifying the arrival of the groom and the bride. According to Chinese customs, the groom must not open the car door when he arrives with the bride. Since this is the youngest uncles, the nephew was given the chance to open the door. He must pass two oranges to the bride before opening the door. The two oranges will be left in the bridal car for good fortune.

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The groom then escorted the bride to the house to offer some prayers.

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The chinese were mainly Taoists or ancestor worshipers before foreign religions such as Christianity, Muslim or Buddhism enter China. Taoists believed in the power of heaven and earth to witness important events on earth. It was also believed that a parent or family elder must acknowledge a union for it to be official.

 

In traditional chinese wedding ceremony the bride and groom will first pray to heaven and earth, then to the groom parents or family elders and lastly bow to each other 一拜天地,二拜高堂,夫妻交拜. The three prayers sealed the marriage. The couple was escorted into the bridal chamber, the equivalent of the bridal room, to consummate their marriage.

 

Modern chinese wedding skip the ritual of the three prayers. The bride and groom will enter the bridal room directly after entering the groom’s home. Groom’s family members will hide in the house to avoid clashing of fortune with the new couple. After the family members have returned to the family hall, the couple will join them.

The couple in the bridal room.

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The couple are served some sweet dessert consisting of two eggs and some other stuff which I forgot to ask what it was, this is suppose to symbolize unity and happiness for the newlyweds.

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Traditionally, the bride’s home visit is three days after the chinese wedding ceremony. For efficiency, modern chinese wedding usually compressed all the necessary events into a single day.

The newlyweds leaving the groom’s house to their new house.

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The arrival of the couple at their new home.

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Both of them holding miniature lights to signify something (happiness??) looking rather happy about the whole settings and the smooth ceremony.

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The pair of cute teddies sitting in front of the bridal car. Watch out for Part 2 coming soon.

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