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.
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,
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
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
- 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. *
- 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. *
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.