NOT a food blog
When I mentioned my obsession with bacon to my brother who lives in the UK, he sniffed, “We don’t eat bacon for breakfast these days. It’s peasant food.”
I’d like to see him tell mum that. She lives in Klang, a place she claims is barren of good bacon. I am literally expected to bring home the bacon every time I visit, failing which she’d serve me broth without any bread and whip me soundly before putting me to bed.
I am an internet junkie, reading anything from Malaysiakini to Martha Stewart’s Delicious Food Recipes, and one day I chanced upon Martha Stewart’s bacon jam recipe. It involved using a slow cooker, something which I didn’t have at that time, so I put it off to another day. I eventually bought myself a cheap 3.3 litre slow cooker, and my culinary journey took a different, but positive direction from then on.
The reception towards my homemade bacon jam varied greatly. Some said it tasted like siu pau (barbecued pork bun) and politely told me that it was marketable, while my mum said perceptively, “There’s alcohol in it, Meena”. It would have been okay except that she suffers from alcohol intolerance (she breaks out in rashes), and being the good daughter that I am, I fed her not only the bacon jam made with 15-year-old single malt whisky, but also a boozey tiramisu later that night. Relax. The amounts were negligible anyway, hardly enough to cause a small bump in the skin, and she slept well that night.
Ironically enough, I didn’t use the slow cooker to make the bacon jam in the end. The problem with the slow cooker recipe is that one needs to cook it for 3 1/2 to 4 hours on high (or probably about 6 hours on low), but I work in an accounting firm with minimum working hours of 12 hours a day which basically meant that 1) I can never get a tan; and 2) I can never cook bacon jam in a slow cooker.
I followed the ingredients in the recipe to a T, so it’s pointless reproducing it here, but the steps obviously differ because of the no-slow cooker thingy. After frying the bacon, onions and garlic, and adding cider vinegar, maple syrup, sugar and coffee, I cooked it over low heat on the stove for about an hour, then cooled it down before blitzing it in the food processor till I got it to my preferred consistency. It then went back to the stove again before I added in a glug of whisky and simmered it for a further 15 minutes. (Note: There is no mention of whisky in the Martha Stewart version, but I think it should be in as it makes a world of a difference. It’s non-halal already anyway, innit?)
The bacon jam goes wonderfully with cheeses and roast meats. I even ate it with mum’s nasi lemak last weekend, whereupon mum bestowed upon me her biggest frown for contaminating a much revered local favourite with the likes of Martha Stewart. Mum’s a stickler for tradition, and I’m a rebel, but she humours me anyway. Well, sometimes.
I still have some left over in my fridge, this beautiful pot of gold with its sticky, smoky, syrupy, delectable relish. I asked a dear friend once, in rhetoric, about my elusive rainbow and pot of gold. She said, “It will get better. Just focus on the now”. And I did just that.
“No more did I need to roam.
In all that time I was searching for that pot of gold,
It was with my family and friends, at home.”
Food, for me, is a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Food, for me, represents the love of family, the fellowship of friends, and the community and communality it brings.