I feel weirdly self conscious about writing about my home country, because I’ve been gone for so long, even if I still visit every two-three years or so. Still, during my last visit a couple months ago, I did a batch of drawings of my most favourite foods.
When I was a kid, growing up in Malaysia, I ate nasi lemak in the most finicky way possible. I’d eat most of the rice, eat the peanuts and ikan bilis individually and save the cold cucumbers for last. I’d avoid everything spicy. I learned to love sambal and chicken curry in the Philippines, where my family and I were expats for six years, at a resort hotel restaurant that had a Malaysian chef that would make laksa for my dad, even though it wasn’t on the menu.
I still eat nasi lemak in a very finicky way, making sure each spoonful has the right balance of rice and sambal and curry. The ikan bilis and peanuts get eaten separately, still. The cucumbers are for when the spicy gets too spicy.
I’ve tried to cook the rice many times, and it hasn’t turned out right – the coconut milk affects the moisture and it sometimes ends up too dry or far too wet. I finally got it right with the recipe from the Lucky Peach cookbook(Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes), and being absolutely reliant on my rice cooker.