Archive | February, 2012

Fish Head Noodles

23 Feb

Malaysians must really like fish heads. You can get it in curry, you can get it cooked in tamarind sauce, and of course, you can get it with noodles. Like fish head curry and assam fish head (neither of which I’ve blogged about, shockingly), fish head noodles are a distinctly Malaysian dish, though you might find it in Singapore.

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Japanese Chocolates, Part Two

15 Feb

Nothing says romance like Spicy Choco Sticks.

Happy Valentine’s Day! (It’s a little late for my Malaysian readers, but I did start the post on the 14th.) In honor of the choco-centric holiday, I thought I’d do a sequel to my earlier Japanese Kit-Kat post. This time, I’ll be reviewing the wasabi flavor, as well as the “spicy choco stick.”

Among the many crazy flavors of Kit Kat they sell in Japan, wasabi is a staple, especially for foreigners in search of souvenirs. The packaging touts it as “an elegant spiciness, with a creamy sweetness.” (There’s also a warning that the picture of the wasabi root on the wrapping is “for illustration purposes only,” probably because they’re using the cheaper powdered horseradish.)

Wasabi and chocolate, together at last

And it tastes like…white chocolate with a smidgen of wasabi powder. It wasn’t as sinus-clearing as I expected, but it wasn’t great, either. I’m usually a fan of savory and sweet (bring on the bacon chocolate bar!), but this combination didn’t work for me. Maybe with dark chocolate?

More pleasing were the Spicy Choco Sticks, sort of like a grown-up version of Pocky (which is made by a rival company — they have Men’s Pocky, but it’s just dark, not spicy). The chocolate has hints of orange and chili. I know this flavor combo has been around for a while (you know, like since the Aztecs), but not in handy stick form. Interestingly, the packaging says it’s “perfect with alcohol!” and suggests that you use the sticks as a swizzle stick for your whisky highball, or pair it with some red wine. Red wine and spicy choco sticks: doesn’t that sound like a recipe for romance?

Recipe: Tangerine-Avocado Salsa

6 Feb

Happy Chap Goh Meh! It’s the 15th and final day of Chinese New Year festivating. In Malaysia, the day is marked with the ceremonial tossing of tangerines into the ocean (or other large body of water) by single women in search of suitors. The tradition began in Penang, where good Chinese girls were sequestered away from the prying eyes of men, and only allowed outside on the last day of the new celebration; the man who found your tangerine was fated to be your husband. Modern Malaysian girls have taken fate into their own hands, and usually write their names and cell phone numbers on the tangerines. Personally, I think it’s just an excuse to get rid of all of the tangerines you receive during the Spring Festival (as Chinese New Year is called). Since tangerines symbolize gold and prosperity, and they don’t cost much, they’re a traditional gift of the season. I’m not even Chinese, and I still managed to get two or three bags.

If Tom were an unmarried Chinese Malaysian girl, this is what he'd be using to get dates.

So, what to do with all these tangerines? I’m not single, so I’m not going to be throwing them in Lake Titiwangsa. I use up some of them in this salsa. The sweetness and juiciness of the tangerine contrasts nicely with the creamy avocado, and makes for a refreshing condiment while tomatoes are out of season. If you don’t have a surplus of tangerines, you can substitute any other sweet citrus fruit; I think blood oranges would be particularly tasty, or maybe those Cara Cara oranges. I served it with pan-fried grouper, but it would be delicious with any sort of grilled fish, shrimp, or even chicken breast.

Tangerine-Avocado Salsa (serves 2)


3 large tangerines (yields about 1 cup)
1 Haas avocado
Small bunch of cilantro, or to taste
1/2 lime, juiced
1 small shallot (1/2 large)
1 scallion
Salt, to taste


  1. Peel and dice the tangerines and avocado.
  2. Mince the shallot, scallion, and cilantro.
  3. Combine all ingredients with the lime juice and add salt to taste. Serve immediately.