October 10, 2010

Begedel Ikan and a Letter to My Readers

Dear Reader:

If you've noticed, I’ve not been writing on this journal of mine as regularly as I did on my first days of blogging. Now, bear with me and let me grumble for a little before I can shut up …

On weekdays, work takes up three-fourths of my waking hours. And by the time I reach home, I’d allocate some of my remaining waking hours to complete other tasks I don’t get around to work on otherwise. At the end of the day, my brain is, literally, almost defunct.

If you don’t mind, let me share with you another interesting way of life of living in Kuala Lumpur (K.L.). At work, a few colleagues and I jokingly lamented about how KL-ites waste spend most of their time on the road. A kind-hearted colleague, who takes an earlier shift, would send us text message just to inform us about the traffic on the road while on his way home. Haha!

Though I just started out driving not long ago, I’d already had one of the worst episodes ever: I was stuck in an after-rain gridlock for 1 hour before I could reach home – when all it normally takes is just 20 minutes. Anyway, K.L. is known for its severe traffic problems. Hmmm … I bet the locals have grown accustomed to all these.

A common scene in K.L., especially during rush hours. This is along the stretch of highway I travel on to get to work. (Image courtesy of The Star Malaysia)
Now that you know why I’ve been inactive over here, huh? To keep myself sane, I take blogging and visiting blogs at my pace. It’s not that I want to behave naïvely or that I’m trying to whimper and whine about my life. I just feel obliged to let you know what’s happening on my side – just so you wonder, “Where the heck is Pei-Lin?”

Enough of my grumbling. Now, what I do want to say is I’m overwhelmed by the warm and encouraging words that you had given me for my birthday. Thank you! For the last week, I came home from work finding myself reading about these lovely messages. You have made my day week and put me to a pretty good sleep every night.

In the meantime, do bear with me, though, if you’ve noticed I’m getting slow at replying to comments, questions and emails. Oftentimes, it’s not that I don’t want to respond to any incoming messages. It’s just that I’m burned out; hence, the forgetfulness. If I’ve somehow made you believe that I’m an unfriendly person, I apologize.

Begedel Ikan (Fish Croquettes)

In this virtual world called the Internet, to show my gratitude, I’d like to share with you these Indonesian fish croquettes, or begedel ikan in Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Malaysia. Croquettes have now become a common dish in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. As a matter of fact, there are myriad ways to make croquettes. I’ve seen some recipes that yield baked croquettes instead of deep-fried ones, which I think should be healthier due to the much-lower fat content:
The word ‘begedel’ is of Dutch heritage, but the French word ‘croquette’ is a more familiar term to most Westerners. Potatoes are usually involved, although in some regions only fresh breadcrumbs are used. Versions that use seafood, beef or pork exist, and even canned fish can be used (Başan, Tan, & Laus, 2008).

The minimalist in me went for canned fish, when canned tuna isn’t too shabby after all. Saves time and less work, too. Canned tuna has this intense, savory, stubborn fishy smell and taste that linger in my brain, dishes, mouth, hands – and shirt, if the clumsy and sloppy me happens to have the tuna and its brine spilled all over. (Canned tuna has been a must in my pantry since my college days in the States. Works well for someone with tight budget.)

Great as a snack, or as a lunch or dinner item. Serve the croquettes with your favorite chili sauce, if desired. I hope you’ll like them. If you’re interested, you may consider giving the below recipe a shot. Cooking is a live science. So, tweak it to your liking. Selamat mencuba dan berjamu selera! (In Bahasa Malaysia: Happy trying and eating!)

Once again, thank you for being supportive all along! Have a fabulous week ahead!

With warmest regards,

Begedel Ikan (Fish Croquettes)

Fish Croquettes (Begedel Ikan)
Adapted from "Classic Recipes, Tastes and Traditions of Indonesia and the Philippines," by Ghillie Başan, Terry Tan, and Vilma Laus

600 g potatoes – rinsed to clean well
450 g cod or halibut
* I’m sure cod and halibut aren’t native to Southeast Asia. Over here, the fish are relatively more expensive since they are flown in. If I were to use fresh one, I’d opt for any one of the “local” varieties, which are more affordable. Make sure it’s white fish. *
* I used canned tuna, as mentioned above. *
400 mL water – for poaching the fish in; not needed if you’re using canned tuna

2 eggs
105 mL milk or water
40 g all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt – or to taste
Pinch of ground cloves or to taste
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper – or to taste
1 scallion – finely chopped
* The original recipe suggests using only the white part. I proceeded with the whole stick of scallion anyway. *

Enough all-purpose flour – for dusting
Enough cooking oil – for deep frying
Chili sauce – to serve
  1. Cook the potatoes thoroughly in a pot of boiling water. Then, drain well. When they are cool enough to handle, peel and mash them very well.
    * I did this the other way round. I washed and peeled the potatoes first before having them cooked thoroughly via boiling. To check the doneness, perforate the potatoes gently with a fork. The potatoes are cooked when they give no resistance to the fork. Lastly, I mashed the potatoes up while they were still hot. Then, set them aside to cool before use. *
  2. Poach the fish in the 400 mL water for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the fish and place on a plate. Flake or mash the flesh, removing any bones as you go. Then, discard the poaching water.
    * With canned tuna, you simply need to drain the whole deal, then flake or mash the flesh sans deboning the fish. *
  3. In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs just to break them up and mix with the milk. Add in the mashed potatoes and fish; mix well. Stir in the flour to make a thick mixture. Then, mix in (A). 
  4. Using wet or well-floured hands, shape the mixture into balls, each the size of a plum, and flatten a little on a floured counter. Dust them with flour to prevent sticking issue. 
  5. In a wok or something similar, heat up enough cooking oil for deep-frying. Then, deep-fry the croquettes in batches till golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, drain and dish them up before transferring to a plate that’s been lined with paper towel. The paper towel will absorb any excess oil in the croquettes. 
  6. In my opinion, the croquettes are best served hot or warm. You can serve them at room temperature however. They taste great when dipped in chili sauce.


Swee San said...

actually 1 hr jam to a normal 20 mins drive is perfectly normal during peak hours.
try 1 hr jam in a normal 1 min drive :) Take it easy dear.. every1 has wake up at whee hours to go to work, and every1 has to get stuck in jam too... Hope u're feeling better after the rant ;)

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Yea lar ... That was why I said KL-ites and anyone traveling within the Klang Valley area have grown used to the congestion and gridlock. It's a way of life in KL. But who likes it? As much I don't like to waste my time this way, I have to. Thank goodness! To kill my time in the car, there's this lovely thing called music. HAHA!

I'm taking it easy lar. But you know hor, not every blog reader lives in/comes from KL. So, I feel obliged to let them know why the MIA ... at least, they have a pic of what's going on over on our side. Not every part of the world gets stuck by vehicles as bad as KL does. LOL! AND, I've been and lived in those bare lands before. That's why ... we need to think beyond our "comfort zone" ... Not everyone lives in NYC or LA, too ... LOL!

Thank you, buddy! I def feel much better and relieved after ranting ... LOL! Catch up with you next time. Take care, K? Thanks for the concerns and being supportive all along. =)

Jess @ Bakericious said...

Hi Pei Lin, I am spending a lot of my times on travelling to n fro home and office. I stay in the east and office at west,one end to another. On the morning mostly my husband send me to work which takes about 50 to 60 mins in normal days. He always said that he practically travel s'pore one round daily : from east to west to central which is his office then back home at east hahaha.... I will take about 1 hrs 45 mins to 2 hrs to reach home if my husband cannot leave his office b4 7pm which is quite frequent. I am living in such long hrs travelling times for almost 10 yrs, after I married :p.

The traffic on kl is not a joke, sometimes I do wondering why there is still jam even is not peak hours which is at wee hrs of 3pm. However if you are at bangkok or jakarta, the jam is terrible. I ever stuck in jam for 2 hrs plus for a 10 mins journey and that is happening everyday. So I learn to clear my bladder whenever I wanna start my journey lol. Hope you feel better after hearing from me :).

Little Inbox said...

Haiz...Penang also very jam ler...
I stay quite near to the factory that I work, but too many traffic lights and no way to make a U-turn, so it takes me about 20 minutes drive.

ICook4Fun said...

I don't think KL traffic will get any better. From my working days years ago it was like that. I will go very early to work and came home super late just to avoid the rush hours. Now worst will so many new roads/highways I got lost the last time I went home ha ha.. By the way the tuna cake looks great. I too love making this when I want something quick or ran out of idea what to cook for Carlos :)

edith said...

You know what, my hubby always said that Malaysian drivers are must more patient than Singaporeans.

Your fish cake looks so lovely that I will KIV once I get my hand on the ingredients.

Have a lovely week ahead.

wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more said...

Pei Lin,
U're being so nice to KL traffic.
U're showing a not jammed road, maybe just heavy traffic, but not jammed. I do believe that during peak hours, the situation is far worse than this.

Somehow, whenever I read about bloggers writing abt traffic jams, somehow for this I am glad I moved away from KL. Not trying to add salt to ur wound, but just telling u the truth of how I feel.

Take it easy, traffic conditions in KL and Minnesota is far far far different, guess you need to adjust ur life .. err traffic life.
Keep snacks and a bottle of water with you all the time, cos sometimes the jam can be really nasty. Sometimes it took me almost 2 hours to commute from KL city to USJ.

Don't sleep too late la.... and keep our conversations short :)

Meldylocks and Her Three Bears said...

Take it easy lah, friend...I'm even worse...take a look at the dates of my each posting and you'll laugh...

The flood condition in KL is still so bad? The SMART Tunnel should be playing its role well rite? I moved to Klang just before it went in operation, I meant full operation--not at the experimenting stage. Last time when I was staying at Jln Tung Shin, n teaching in PESS, coming home from school in the evening for that mere 3-4 km took me at least 20mins. That's if the traffic is "smooth". If not, then i'd be inching my way home between 30mins to 1 hr. Then if there's some kind of celebration around Bkt Bintang, make plans to either stay the whole day at home or go somewhere else for that whole day to avoid all the road blocks coz the chances of the traffic police blocking the route back to the place I was staying was high! So, I usually just tell myself: KL=Jam lah!!

Allie said...

Yum yum! Your fish croquettes look delicious! I've had my fair share of jams in KL whenever I visit the city, it's pretty bad huh...I think Singapore's traffic is beginning to seem a little like KL these days, the highways are getting congested here.

I know getting stuck in jams is not a good feeling at all! Perhaps you can pack a box of kit kats and much one along the way to feel better! Haha :)

Ling's Passion said...

Can't agree more with you. We Malaysian spent too much time on the road.

noobcook said...

haiz, living in city is like that... jammy! Singapore is congested too. >.< take care girl!

your croquettes/fish cakes look lovely, I'd love to enjoy them with porridge.

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

At first, I thought you made fish cakes, then I realized you had potatoes.... It must be really tasty! For the traffic jams... kL is not unique... I see it everywhere... Except for Singapore :)

Weng said...

Hi dear, Happy Belated Birthday to you!!! I'm sorry I didnt wish you earlier. :(

My exams are coming and there are lotsa assignment to do. My blog has been in the 冷宫 for a while now. Haha. Anyway, a very nice post and although I am busy, I just have to read all of them :) Thanks dear Pei-Lin

crustabakes said...

thats a very nice begedel u got there. i am totally with you on the traffic situation u face. We experience the same thing in jkt all the time too. sometimes i feel like i am wasting my life in traffic.

Blessed Homemaker said...

During my working days I frequent KL quite a bit for meetings and exhibitions. We usually try to avoid peak hours when traveling by car. I rem there was once we were stuck in KL city for over an hour, just to travel within KL city for dinner. I can imagine what you are going through especially when you face this issue daily. Take care and I hope you are feeling better after the rant.

Happy Homebaker said...

Pei Lin, during my first job, I used to travel to Malaysia almost once a month...either to Penang or KL. It was Subang airport then! Sounds ancient isn't it? I used to get stuck in the traffic travelling between KL city centre and Shah Alam. I think the situation is worst now.

Zoe said...

Hi Pei Lin, I guess every city has its own version of mad rush... your fish cake looks delicious, would love to cook that for my family one day.

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Sorry for the uber late reply ... Been busy ... Thank you for visiting and sharing your view on the matter. It's definitely widened my horizons and taught me to be less egocentric culturally. Have a fabulous week ahead! =)

@Jess L.: Yea, another blogger friend of ours told me about your story. Honestly speaking, the distance between my home and the office isn't considered long at all, for KL-ites and those who survive in the metropolis. With that said, to take 1 hour to reach either one of the places -- I'm talking about single trip -- is ridiculous, for those who aren't accustomed to all the congestions, heavy traffic and gridlock. If the traffic is smooth, all I need is 20 minutes at most to commute on a single trip. Between home and office, some of my colleagues have to travel for 50 minutes to 1 hour on a single trip even when the traffic is smooth because the distance is much longer (e.g. from Shah Alam to Ampang). Let's say when the traffic is heavy or that road is terribly congested, they are gonna have to take probably 2 hours, depending on the situation. Now, let's consider Swee San's home in Klang, she sometimes needs 2 hours on the road to travel from Klang to KL city center when the roads are congested. Frankly, in terms of surface area, I ... and even many Malaysians still think Singapore's not as big. For many of us who have been to the island republic, we think traveling around the main island in a day isn't a fuss at all. LOL! Just our two cents. Yes, I myself also can never understand why some roads are just prone to get congested well before the peak hours. My hypothesis is the number of land vehicles has outnumbered the number of humans occupying this city. Now, I've not been to Jakarta and Bangkok. Those two metropolises are HUGE. I need to experience the traffic madness there when I get to travel the two cities in the future. Should be quite an unforgettable experience, which I can foresee. Thanks for sharing!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hi, guys! Sorry for the uber late reply ... Been busy ... Thank you for visiting and sharing your view on the matter. It's definitely widened my horizons and taught me to be less egocentric culturally. Have a fabulous week ahead! =)

@Little Inbox: HAHA! I know! I heard from a Penang colleague about that. But she thinks that the situation in KL is messier and worse! LOL! She said once you've missed a turn, game over!!! You're gonna have to find your way back unless you are thinking of breaking the laws by making illegal turns here and there. HAHA! She still prefers Penang. HAHA!

@Gert: You sound pessimistic. So do I. HAHA! If KL's traffic gets any better, something is telling me the government has had some Dettol for some thorough cleansing. Maybe more brain juice has been drunk, too. I know, sometimes I just wish to leave early like at 6 p.m. or slightly past that. But whenever I've been informed of the traffic situation on the road, if it's terrible, I'd rather stay and wait till about 7 to head home. (The staff isn't encouraged to stay beyond 7.30 p.m. due to the lousy security in the area I'm working in. It's new. That's why.) Hey! Don't be surprised! We KL-ites can get lost in the city frequently and easily!! HAHAHA! Last Sunday, my parents had two misses and so they had to make rounds and rounds again just to find IKEA's parking lot. LOL! We are not from Damansara area. We even had to call our aunt who's living in Damansara. HAHA!!! So, no worries! You've got lots of company! I'm still a noob on the road. Muahaha! Btw, begedel are good!! Simple and yet delish!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hi, guys! Sorry for the uber late reply ... Been busy ... Thank you for visiting and sharing your view on the matter. It's definitely widened my horizons and taught me to be less egocentric culturally. Have a fabulous week ahead! =)

@Edith: HAHAHA! Serious!? Besides more patient, are we scarier drivers? HAHAHA!

@Wendy: Yea, that's just a scene in which heavy traffic is depicted. Not even gridlock or congestion. Damn! Because I wanted to show a pic of MRR2 mah ... HAHA! Yea, I can see jamming on MRR2 every workday. LOL! Good lor, now that you know how beautiful KK is, right? LOL! When I need an escape from the urban beats, I'll let you know of our KK trip lar ... Probably not this year 'coz already got 2 wedding I've committed myself in later this year. Yea lor, Minnesota and most parts of the States are friendly to drivers, especially their freeways. LOL! Missing it! Already adjusting lar ... Just don't take my radio and mp3 player in my car away from me ... Snacks and water are optional 'coz I want a cleared bladder as I commute. LOL! No private tandas. Lazy to stop at tandas awam pun. Not easy to turn on the road also. LOL!

@Melody: Nope, yours isn't laughable at all. I can't find myself laughing. =P

Not that I've experienced severe flooding in KL all my life here. Even when flooded, it's only certain parts of the city. My area and those I travel in usually don't get affected. Wait, I'm noob on the roads. LOL! Which one is SMART Tunnel ar? I only know of MRR2, Duke Highway, North-South Highway, and other main roads that I drive on frequently now. LOL! Maybe I've even driven thru SMART Tunnel before ... just never realize that's it! 好大頭蝦hor? HAHA! Yea lar, Bkt. Bintang selalu macam ini lar ... Kalau ada celebrations, tentu ada road closures. KL = Congestion. True. PESS = Pudu Jail Girls' School? LOL! The one Wendy told me? I swung past that school a lot. Opposite the old F&N factory, right?

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hi, guys! Sorry for the uber late reply ... Been busy ... Thank you for visiting and sharing your view on the matter. It's definitely widened my horizons and taught me to be less egocentric culturally. Have a fabulous week ahead! =)

@Allie: HAHA! Very different from your hometown, right? Really? Hmmm ... Not sure, I didn't quite observe the roads there when I was in SG as I traveled via MRT the most. Traffic problems seem contagious ... LOL! KitKats are optional. Just don't take my radio and mp3 player away from me ... I need them in my car ... HAHA!

@Ling: HAHA! The time is indeed "well" spent! HAHA! Malaysia Boleh!

@Wiffy: I still can't believe when y'all tell me that SG is congested!! SERIOUS!!!??? Not as bad as KL I suppose? LOL! *Rubbing eyes*

@Shirley: Now, I've got a different story on SG traffic. I'm puzzled ... LOL! Congested or smooth? LOL!

@Weng: Don't say sorry, K? Thank you so much for the wishes and encouraging words all along! =)

I know, exam season ... and all those final papers ain't fun. I went thru that. No worries, both of ours are in 冷宮 ... LOL! If you're busy, don't need to read my nonsense. LOL! You're not obliged to nor legally mandated to do so. LOL! Everyone should be busy with life; otherwise, it's pretty pointless. Thank you, dear! Now, you get busy with school while I get busy with work and other stuff in life. Everyone 一定要加油! Take care! Don't overwork yourself though.

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hi, guys! Sorry for the uber late reply ... Been busy ... Thank you for visiting and sharing your view on the matter. It's definitely widened my horizons and taught me to be less egocentric culturally. Have a fabulous week ahead! =)

@crustabakes: Yea, I heard the traffic situation in JKT is also terrible, from both my JKT colleagues and some other blogger friends! KL-ites can empathize with you: We waste so much of our time on the roads!!! ARGH! But, there isn't much we can do ... =(

@Blessed Homemaker: Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience with me here. There's no doubt KL's traffic is horrid. HAHA! I didn't rant lar ... Just sharing my life over here ... Maybe I do sound aggressive/violent through my words here. LOL!

@HHB: HAHA! Yea! Subang Airport already long gone ... I think I hardly have a memory of it ... The last time we used the airport was in 1996(?) ... when my dad went for a biz trip in the States. LOL! Definitely ancient! It just never gets better here. LOL!

@Zoe: Yup, every HUGE city has its mad rush, pretty sure. Hope you'll like the croquettes. =)

mycookinghut said...

I have experience KL life before... stuck in the traffic over hours.. and it wasn't pleasant :(

Siukwan said...


Jo said...

My dear PL, yes I symphatize with you and do agree that KL traffic is really bad. Heh, at least it is better than Bangkok :P. Also on not posting regularly, just do one super long one and that would make up for at least 3 posts. Haha .. joking lah! I'm hoping to plan a trip back to KL end Nov/early Dec. Will let you know once I have firm up my dates. Hope to catch up with you.

homeladychef said...

i can see that you are quite siao liao, ranting like this in your blog and i know being a true pei-lin is always like this, how about drink a cup of tea that i sent you last time? does it get any better? no? how about me sending a belated happy birthday to make you jump over joy that you are closer to aunty-state (like me)? come over to Singapore to punch my face will definitely make you feel better! ><

Angie's Recipes said...

Pei-Lin, you are such a kind and considerate gal. Share some pieces of your life and update us when your busy routine and work schedules allow you. And there's no need to apologize.
So now let's enjoy ourselves with these fish croquettes!
I wish you a beautiful and peaceful day!

Maya said...

Pei Lin:

Happy Belated Birthday!!!!I know what you mean - it can be challenging to blog after putting in 50 hrs a week at the office. Traffic in New York is horrendous. Hang in there!!!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Thank you all for stopping by and the kind words! Have a lovely weekend ahead!

@Leemei: I know, you're from Kajang! Actually, I've known your blog for a few years since my days in the States. HAHA! Every Malaysian knows how horrendous the traffic in KL is!

@Siukwan: 這道菜就是東西合拼的好例子!若果有時間,不妨試一試。哈哈!妳都幾搞笑喔!這些魚餅不是用來夾漢堡來食架!哈哈!但是妳的想法都幾有創意。。。哈哈!

@Jo: HAHA! Yea, another nod from a fellow Malaysian! LOL! KL traffic is known for just that! I think it's stuck with our identity of being Malaysian. LOL! True, better than Bangkok and Jakarta. Imagine those two other metropolises are WAY crowded and larger than KL! Oh, hey! Have I been doing that by being super long-winded! HAHA! I'm stuck with that trademark of mine. =P

Hey, just a thought ... Maybe you come back in December as we may be meeting up with Ann of pigpigscorner in KL ... Not sure if Jeff, Ann's spouse, is coming though ... We'll work on that once things seem clearer. As of now, too early to be decided ... Looking forward to seeing you again! =)

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Thank you all for stopping by and the kind words! Have a lovely weekend ahead!

@Pei Pei: Yea lar ... Going 痴線 lar ... Some more very tired ar ... Hehe ... Thanks for the tea and honey! Soothing indeed! Thank you so, so much for the birthday wishes! Eh, you're not aunty lor ... You're a woman ... I'm a soon-to-be-woman ... still can be qualified as an adolescent ... HAHA! Or call me 小師奶 ... I like that label ... HAHA! Will see when I'll make my way to SG to cari you la ... HAHA!

@Angie: Thank you! You're always so, so kind and have been very encouraging and supportive all along! I feel touched by your words. Thank you! Thank you for being understanding. I hope you have been having a lovely week ... A gorgeous weekend is definitely coming your way! Take care! I'll drop by to say "hi" whenever time allows. =)

@Maya: Thank you so, so much for the well wishes! I know the life in NYC is just as crazy, too! Definitely different than Minnesota, where I once called home for 2 years and 8 months. You, too! Take care, and have plenty of rest if you're tired! Urban life is never easy! Tiring, challenging but exciting. Too much can have me killed though. HAHA!

pigpigscorner said...

Haha you are right, we are quite used to the jam. When I'm home, I tend to keep lots of snacks in my car and burn my favourite songs onto CDs so I could have karaoke sessions in the car. Once, I was stuck in town for 3 hours!

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) said...

Pei-Lin, I fled KL partly because of the traffic. lol! Your begedel ikan looks absolutely delicious! Haven't had that for a long time.

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