Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Singaporean Homecoming

Back in October, I took a trip back to Singapore for the first time in about 9 years.

As a kid, I traveled to Singapore with my family six or seven times. I can remember general impressions -- tossing around sweaty in my singlet trying to get to sleep; going to the zoo; swimming at the fancy club; my Kong Kong toasting me a slice of bread topped with cheese and sugar or running out to pick up oily chicken rice wrapped in a banana leaf; family members taking us out to fancy meals and giving me red packets; watching terrible Singaporean dramas; going to Sentosa; getting mosquito bites; munching on fried bananas; handing out gum to cousins I didn't know I had... all, in all, a great experience.

I love being half-Singaporean. It's always seemed way cooler than just being half-Chinese. Singapore's exotic, the land of beautiful stewardesses and orchids and canings. Whenever I hear someone with the quirky slightly British, totally distinctive, Singaporean accent with its liberally sprinkled "lah-s" and "aiyah-s" I feel a warming in my soul. But my love for all things Singapore is sort of an uninformed infatuation, rather than a deep passion bred by understanding. So though I thought my heritage was spiffy, I never really felt Singaporean (my aiyahs are forced and I hate durian).

So that's why I was a bit surprised when my recent trip made me feel like falling straight into the bosom of my motherland. Hanging out with my cousin Aidan and his friend Alex, walking around Singapore and eating at the hawker centers -- I felt at home, like I belonged. I was a little embarrassed because I didn't know the proper name for anything and I didn't ever know the protocol. But still, I felt like I could fit in here, like other people were like me somehow.

I was sitting at the kitchen table playing dominos with my aunties and uncle and Aidan and Alex. I had one leg hanging down, and one foot up on the chair, leg bent up against my chest. I sit that way without noticing, but my auntie noticed and told me that that was the way my great grandmother sat. Then one of my mum's childhood friends took me to her mum's house for lunch. Her mum remembered my mum from when she was a teenager. She kept calling me beautiful and telling me that I was a "simple girl" just like my mom.

The city is full of hapas -- half this and half that. In a way it's annoying because being a half-breed is just par for the course here, but it's also weirdly comforting. And then there was the food -- the chili laden, deeply flavored multiethnic food. I figured out why I love to add so much spice to everything I eat. It makes complete sense when you come from a food tradition with such exuberant smells and tastes. So many things to eat and drink that I associate with childhood and comfort -- pineapple tarts, ovaltine, chicken rice, satay, kuay boluh, char kway teow, paratha, chrysanthemum drink, milk tea, barley water, fishballs.

It's strange to think how differently we experience things as we grow up. When I was young, going to Singapore was like going to another planet. Yes, these were my relatives, but I barely knew them. But going back this time, I felt like in some indirect, but powerful way, this country helped define me. Even down to some of its more repressive elements. Perhaps that's why I never had a penchant for flouting authority (or maybe it was growing up in conservative Orange County?)

The casual dress, the obsessive academia, the love of food -- they all spoke to me; so when my cousin Aidan suggested that I move out for a year to take another Masters degree or teach English or do random anthropological research related to food, it sounded like an amazing idea. I've since revised my initial enthusiasm -- for someone who hasn't grown up there, the heat of Singapore simply saps all my life force -- but though it probably won't happen next year, I'm not ruling out the possibility of coming back.

The Singapore skyline as seen from the Flyer

7 days of food fun in Singapore

Here's what I can remember of my food adventure in Singapore...

Saturday 25 - Popiah, carrot cake, oyster omelette, beef rendang, char kway tieow, that crunchy cup thing, that soupy dessert thing; Fried taro basket with steamed veggies, bitter melon soup, fried shrimp balls, chicken wings, bean curd clay pot, lime & sour plum juice

Sunday 26 - Kopi, tissue paratha, regular paratha, egg paratha; Auntie Bernie's mum's tomato pork soup, mutton in tomato sauce, fish curry with ladies fingers, chicken curry; Tonkatsu at Tonkichi for dinner

Monday 27 - Chicken rice; sambal stingray, soup mee with pork balls, satay, oyster pancake, chicken wings

Tuesday 28 - Kaya toast and eggs; pineapple tarts!; nasi lemak

Wednesday 29 - Goreng pisang & fresh soursop juice at Maxwell; Not so yummy duck noodles, then delicious hazelnut ice cream at the Island Creamery

Thursday 30 - Te haliah, beef mutabak, mee goreng, some yummy curry stuff; Scones with jam and clotted cream, peppermint tea, tea sandwiches and petit fours

Friday 31 - Kaya toast and toast with nutella; chili crab, scallops with fresh veggie, fish maw soup; tau huay & you char kuay at Rochor

Despite my best attempts, there were some things that I just couldn't fit: Fishball soup, soto ayam, bak kuh teh, assam laksa, fish head curry

Thursday, November 27, 2008

KAPE Girls' Scholarships

Another video on one our main programs:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Khmer Food -- Grilled Eel

Oh man, delicious.

Sambath, our district coordinator, heard that I was leaving and invited us all out for a delicious dinner: peanuts & pickled ginger (nice palate cleanser & that ginger gets your digestion going), beef with skin (beef, yum. skin, not so much) and grilled okra with eel (amazing if their teeth are a little scary).

The call the little sauce bowls "child bowls" and I had no fewer than 4 little children choices for my eel -- salt, pepper and lime, two types of prahok based sauces, and a sauce based on fermented bean curd. YUM.

If only we could have gotten the karaoke going, the night would have been perfection.

Khmer Recipes: Cambodian Ceviche Salad

Ever since people found out that I am heading back, my amazing coworkers have been inviting me to join them for special foods and festivities. So far, I've made fish amok, eaten grilled eel, had delicious grilled beef skewers with papaya salad, and on Saturday morning, Rith invited me to her house to learn two new traditional Cambodian dishes.

Rith's husband is a police officer and she lives in a house behind the police station, basically in the field better known as the "old prison" just behind my house.I went over around 9am to find Rith and one of her housemates already busy washing veggies and roasting peanuts. As the morning wound on, 5 of Rith's neighbors and their children came over to help chop, pound, slice, fry, marinate, and otherwise contribute to our delicious lunch.

Fresh-roasted peanuts for the ceviche

Cambodian Ceviche Salad (Plear Threi)

For Cevice and Sauce
1 kilo firm white fish*
1/2 cup prahok (fermented fish paste)
1.5 cup lime juice
3 stalks lemongrass
4'' galangal root
1 kaffir lime
3 kaffir lime leaves
2 bulbs garlic
2 cups peanuts, crushed small
bird chilis
1 tbsp salt, or to taste
3 tbsp sugar, or to taste
2 tbsp cooking oil
fish sauce to taste
1/2 cup water

Assortment of vegetables:
Cabbage and/or Lettuce
Thai parsley
Holy basil
Banana flower
Banana trunk
Bean sprouts

1) Wash and chop your vegetables. Cabbages or iceberg lettuce can be quartered. Other lettuce should be washed and the leaves separated. For the banana flower, use only the tender top half, not the stem. Cut the top half of the bud in half again, lengthwise, then slice thinly down the moon shape. Keep in a small bowl with lime juice and water to prevent browning. Cut the disk of the banana trunk in half across the diameter and slice similarly. Julienne the cucumber. Blanche bean sprouts to reduce the likelihood of disease. Put everything in the fridge or on ice to chill.

2) Process your raw ingredients: Remove the green leaves at the top of the 3 lemongrass stalks and chop the firm white bottom part. Process in a mortar and pestle or food processor until a uniform fluffy paste and set aside -- you should have about 1.5 cups. Chop the galangal root, process as the lemongrass and set aside -- about 1/2 cup, loosely packed. Remove the skin of the kaffir lime (some white rind is okay -- it will not be bitter) and do the same as with the galangal and lemongrass. Repeat the process with the lime leaves and 2 bulbs of garlic. Chop your prahok until a wet, gray paste. Keep each ingredient separate for now.

3) To make the sauce base, or "krooung"** add 2 tbsp of your reserved galangal, all the lime leaves and lime skin, half your garlic, and 1/4 cup of the lemongrass into your mortar and pestle. Mash together into a paste and set aside.

4) Slice fish thinly (about 2 mm thick). Chop slices into small pieces, no bigger than 2cm x 1cm. It may be easier if your fish is frozen first.

5) To the fish, add salt, sugar, and lime juice and stir well. Add the remaining galangal, lemongrass, garlic and stir. Add 1 cup peanuts and mix it up with your hands. Continue for about 5 minutes, until the fish looks completely opaque (cooked). Squeeze the fish out with your hands, and place in another bowl in the fridge. Reserve the juice.

6) Heat 2 tbsp oil in a medium pot over a high flame. When hot, add prahok and stir well. Fry for 3-4 minutes. The prahok will be very fragrant and should start to froth and bubble in the pot.

7) Turn the heat down to medium, add your "krooung" and stir. Fry for 5-7 minutes. The texture should be somewhat dry, so be careful of burning. Sprinkle in some fish sauce to taste (1-2 tsp should do).

8) Continue stirring and add in the reserved juice from the fish, reducing the heat to low. Add 1/2 cup water and 2 tbsp sugar. Mix until dissolved and then remove from the heat.

Serve sauce in individual small bowls. Individuals can add peanuts and chopped chilis to the sauce, as desired. Put fish and vegetables in the middle. Each person will take a lettuce or cabbage leaf, add veggies and some fish and dip in the sauce. The mixture can also be eaten over white rice.

The fish, all cooked in lime

* Cambodians use a small, whole fish called Threi Riel (money fish). They defin, descale, and degut the fish, smash it flat and then cut it in half with a cleaver. The fish was delicious, but I found the small bones poked at my gums.
** MSG is used liberally in Cambodian cooking, but I tend to leave it out in my recipes.
*** "Krooung" means "ingredients" and is used to describe any number of pastes used for bases in soups, curries, and for marinating meat. Krooung can be as simple as salt, sugar, garlic and MSG, but your typical ones include a combination of galangal, ginger, lemongrass, shallots, turmeric, garlic, and kaffir lime skin.

The tiny guys they used -- I might try a boneless fish, sliced thinly

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Another Vid: Kids Learning History and Fixing Ruins

Jess's Recipes: Sour Citrus Sorbet

Tiny packages of goodness

Growing up in our house on Valley View street, we had this amazing tangerine tree in our backyard. I used to sit in the tree on autumn afternoons picking the still greenish fruit, peeling off the skin, and meticulously removing all the white stringy stuff so I was left with nothing but the tiny jeweled segments.

These tangerines were small-ish, mostly seedless and flat on both ends (no protruding top like some tangelos). The skin was particularly loose and easy to peel with a relatively dull orange, almost greenish color even when ripe. The fruit itself was heavenly -- tart and sweet -- each slice popped open in your mouth with very little of that nasty thick fibrous segment "wall" that many tangerines tend to have.

I haven't found many tangerines like this since then, until last month they started popping up all around the markets in Kampong Cham. So far I've eaten 3 kilos myself and despite the fact that they're oh-so-delicious just as is, I thought maybe I should to use the little gems for something exciting...

The finished product -- nice and tart

Sour Citrus Sorbet (no ice cream machine necessary)

12 small tangerines (satsuma or robinsons are yummy)
6 Mexican/Asian limes (the small ones)
1 kaffir lime (bumpy skin, available in Asian food stores)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

food processor or blender

1) Zest the kaffir lime. Make sure the zest is small -- it will be going into your sorbet. Don't worry about getting down to the white part because kaffir limes are generally not too bitter.
2) Juice the remaining tangerines and limes, don't strain out the pulp. If you don't have a juicer, separate the seeds with a coarse strainer. You should end up with about 2 cups of juice. Put your juice in the refrigerator to chill.
3) Add sugar, water, and kaffir lime zest to a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until boiling, then reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes, or until content has reduced by half, then turn off the heat
4) Add your syrup to the reserved juice and stir well. Pour into a shallow metal dish or ice cube tray and freeze for two hours or until the juice begins to freeze on the sides and top.
5) Take the mixture from the freezer and pulse it in your food processor or blender about ten times. The juice should be frothy and mostly opaque. Put it back in the pan and freeze another 5 hours, until pretty solid.
6) Take the mixture out and pulse it in the blender again. The sorbet should have a smooth, but soft texture and be able to hold its shape. Make into balls and freeze for another hour or so. Serve immediately with extra zest for garnish or put it in a container and cover the surface of the sorbet with plastic wrap to inhibit ice crystals. If your sorbet becomes icy after too long in the freezer, simply give it another whirl in the food processor before serving.

I plan to try different citrus combinations -- pumelo is the next contender, with chili-salt topping! It might also be yummy to add a tbsp or two of Alize, Cointreau or Grand Marnier to smooth out the texture and add a kick, but I haven't tried these myself. Just remember, adding alcohol means a slower freezing time, so if you try it, you may need to increase the suggested time in the freezer.

Kaffir lime for zesting!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Khmer Recipes: Bananas in Coco Milk

Somart brought this over for a feast the other day and gave me her recipe. I reduced the sugar, but you could add more -- it's really up to your personal preference.

I like to eat this hot with coconut sticky rice or chilled over shaved ice. Yum!

It's a little grey looking, but absolutely scrumptious

Banana & Tapioca Dessert (Jait K'tih)

1.5 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
8 mini dessert bananas sliced in half (Lakatan is delicious)
1/4 cup mini tapioca pearls
1/4 cup sugar, or to taste
pinch of salt
1/2 cup coconut cream*

Add coconut milk and water to a pot and heat until boiling. Add soaked tapioca pearls, bring back to a boil and then turn the heat down. Simmer approximately 10 minutes on low until the tapioca becomes soft.

Add sugar and a pinch of salt and stir until dissolved. Then add bananas. Bring the pot back to a simmer and cook 10 minutes more, or until bananas are soft and the mixture is a dull grey color.

Serve hot or cold with extra coconut cream drizzled on the top. This can also be eaten over sticky rice and/or with shaved ice for something different.

*If using a can of coconut milk, you can spoon off the top part of the milk which is usually the thicker, more opaque part and reserve this as the cream. If you're using fresh coconut, the cream comes out the first time you squeeze the coconut with a little bit of boiling water and the milk will come out on the subsequent squeezes when you've added more water.

Home Alone

Cambodians with their hard-core family values are always shocked when they hear I'm here alone, and constantly asking whether I'm lonely ("op sop?"). At first, the answer was honestly no, there was too much to do and see and cook and think about, but after I came back from a brief jaunt with my family over in the USA, I got a little sad, and sometimes a lot sad -- especially when I didn't keep busy.

I think, though, that even worse than sadness or boredom, is the self-indulgence and egocentrism of living without the norming influence of other people (especially in a place where unannounced visitors are pretty improbable). That's why I think there are certain stigmas associated with living alone that I think are entirely justified. The appearance of Raja the cat circa month 3 doesn't necessarily make things any better -- crazy cat lady is something that still scares any misanthropic tendencies straight out of most young women.

Hermits run around naked in the deep woods and eat snakes and tubers and maybe even psychedelic mushrooms they find lying around. I refrain from the drugs, but I've been known to lie around without a scrap on reading a new book (or, let's be honest here -- watching 4-5 episodes of Gilmore Girls in a row) and eating my refrigerator empty on a Sunday afternoon. No wonder Mr. Sambath noticed the 9 extra kilos. And the #1 problem with this type of behavior is that it's addictive and the further you let yourself go into the antisocial, self-centered spiral, the more difficult it is to dig yourself out. When you become irritable when company's coming because that means you have to put your clothes back on, that's when you know it's gone too far.

The physical seclusion aside, emotional and mental solitude are also tough. Even when I venture out with friends here, it's very difficult to get critical input or opinions on what I'm thinking. I have recently been reflecting on my experience here and considering what I want to do next when I come back and all the ideas floating in my head seem exciting and possible, but also maybe trite and crazy (?) and what I really need is a sounding board.

Me and Raja, home alone.

Fat today

Before (April)

After (November)

People here in Cambodia tell it like they see it. And the way they see it, I'm fat. Depending on the audience, this fact is positive (healthy), negative (not enough exercise), or neutral (just stating the facts, hon), but there's a resounding consensus that I'm huge and I might not know, so I better be told.

Thankfully, most Cambodians also like my face and whenever I first meet someone, they generally say, wow, she's fat and pretty (toat nung s'art)!

In the past four days, I've had no fewer than 5 comments from 5 individuals:

  • The lady downstairs: "Your arms are fat again, you ate a lot in Thailand!"
  • The landlord's wife: "Oh good, you gained some weight back" (she thought I was eating poorly for a few weeks)
  • My friend Rumdourl, while patting my belly: "Yes, you like to eat on your trips!"
  • Mr. Sambath, the district coordinator: "Wow Jess, you look very fat today"
  • My friend Rith's neighbor: "She's so fat, but she still has a waist which is why she's pretty, not like me!"
And my all-time favorite from my best friend in Cambodia, Rumdourl: "Wow Jess, I think you're the fattest foreigner I've ever seen!"

I've gained about 8 kilos or almost 20 lbs since arriving in Cambodia, so comments on my weight are justified, but I'm consistently thrown off by the daily reminders. You'd think all those comments would convince me to start cutting down my rice portion at lunch or start ordering ice coffees without milk, but no... I guess I've resigned myself to it until I get back to the US where people will politely lie while I try to work it off.

Khmer Recipes: Sinang's Fish Amok

Sitting down to enjoy our lovely amok dinner

Last night, the girls and I got together to make fish amok. This is Sinang's special recipe, though I added some personal notes based on variations that I've seen elsewhere. Amok is your quintessential Cambodian food -- some call it the national dish. It varies across all sorts of dimensions -- from a thin and soupy to solid congealed sauce, from spicy to no heat, from big fish hunks to tiny processed chunks. Some recipes bring out the lemongrass, while others emphasize the kaffir lime taste. But some elements run similar: the dish is always steamed, often wrapped in a banana leaf; kaffir limes always make an appearance; and the sauce always has a curry base with your typical coconut milk and Khmer curry ingredients.

This recipe is for a nicely balanced amok, tending toward a lemongrass-y flavor. The final product is firm, not runny, but beautifully moist so that it separates nicely with your fork over hot white rice. The peanuts play a major role and change the texture from some other recipes. I'm personally ambivalent -- I'm not sure I like the texture mixed in, so I think I would try them as topping or garnish. On the other hand, though this recipe calls for kaffir lime at the end as topping, I personally like it mixed in.

Sinang's Fish Amok (Threi Amok)

1 kilo river fish
5 cups tender star gooseberry leaves (phyllanthus acidus or sluk gontooik)
Banana leaves made into lidless boats, banana leaves for packets, or small ceramic bowls
5 stalks lemongrass
5 grams large dried chilis, or to taste
about 1 inch fresh galangal
about 1 inch fresh young turmeric
2 cloves garlic
2-3 shallots
zest of 1 kaffir lime
7-8 kaffir lime leaves
4 roots wild ginger (kaemplena galanga or k'chlee-ay)
1.5 tbs. salt
3 tbs. sugar, or to taste
1 tbs. dark shrimp paste (kapi)
3 eggs
2 cups coconut cream (thick coconut milk)
1.5 tsp curry powder
2 cups roasted, crushed peanuts (optional)
1 bunch cilantro (optional)

Special equipment:
mortar & pestle or food processor
pot for steaming

Feeds 6-8 people
Preparation time: 2 hours total, 15 min steaming

1) Soak dried chilis in a bowl of water to reconstitute.
2) Chop the bottom third of the lemongrass stems, stopping where the stems dry up into leaves. Also chop galangal, turmeric, garlic, shallots, skin of your lime, and about 1 inch wild ginger root very finely.
3) Process ingredients with a mortar and pestle or with your food processor until they make a smooth paste.
4) Chop your chilis finely and process the chilis in a paste. Mix chili paste with amok paste until the desired spiciness. Depending on your audience, you may want to make two batches -- one with chili, one without.
5) Chop your fish into small pieces. The exact size depends on your preference, but pieces should be no thicker than 0.5 cm and no bigger than 3 cm x 3 cm wide. This keeps the steaming time down and ensures that the sauce sets and the fish finishes at the same time.
6) In a large bowl, gently mix pieces of fish with amok paste and coconut cream until evenly coated
7) Continue to combine mixture, adding sugar and salt, shrimp paste, 3 eggs, curry powder, and finally the crushed peanuts. Peanuts can be omitted if desired, or added later for garnish.
8) Take banana leaf boats, bowls, or packets and line the bottom with 2-3 layers of star gooseberry leaves. Add amok mixture to fill the container. Repeat with all the amok mixture.
9) Thinly slice kaffir lime leaves and remaining wild ginger. Top each boat with a few slices of each for flavor. If desired, the leaves and ginger can be mixed in with the original mixture -- this is up to individual preference.
10) Steam packets in a large steamer for 10-15 minutes, or until done.

Garnish with sprigs of cilantro and serve with white rice

Somart and Rumdourl assembling the amok boats

The little amok boats, ready to be steamed

And in the steamer...

Rumdourl opening up the finished product while Elaine looks on...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Khmer Food -- Baby duck embryo (aka "egg with baby")

Quite rightly, the introduction to Jeffrey Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything begins with an account of Steingarten's attempt to train himself into the perfect omnivore. He begins oh-so-methodically by listing in order the foods that make him gag, that he simply detests, that he doesn't particularly like, and so on, and then proceeds through a narrative of how he conquers (or mostly conquers) his distaste for each offending food.

Steingarten's personal journey inspired me (though I found his hatred of falafel simply baffling!) and reminded me of my own hard-fought victory over my hatred of mustard, and the certain slow-battles to find my peace with select crustaceans and with fungi. In general, I'm proud at most of my attempts at food egalitarianism and Steingarten's essay pumped me up for new explorations BUT then, Steiny (to my knowledge) didn't have to deal with this particular Cambodian delicacy.

Porng Tier Goan -- Duck egg with baby!

Yum. I felt I took a big step in even putting my face so close to this delightful morsel. My companion half-apologized for choosing this for his snack instead of a delicious & fresh papaya salad, or nicely processed, beakless, featherless chicken skewer, explaining that he needed the "power" from the three baby ducks because he had been feeling a bit tired lately.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Khmer Food -- Bananas with peel & beef stomach

I'm in Mondulkiri this week for work, and I asked my coworkers what the specialty is in this region. Their favorite local dish is (yum!) cow's stomach, so tonight, we headed over to an outdoor restaurant that's known for grilled meats and this delicacy.

The seven of us walked to the back of the restaurant near the kitchen. The place had 10 or so tables -- a tin roof over a dirt floor littered with balled up paper napkins and various debris, a typical Khmer establishment. sat down in our plastic chairs around a low table. One person had brought along two plastic bags of precooked rice from a roadside stand. On one end of the table, there was a small wooden stool, and on this stool was perched a sturdy wooden cooking pail with glowing hot charcoal inside. The owner of the establishment came over, poked the fire a bit, and handed us a metal rack with a handle and a small pair of tongs.

Next, the servers brought out three heaping plates of fresh veggies (yum!) -- sliced carrots, cucumber, cabbage, green peppers and eggplant -- and two more plates of thinly sliced banana flower and oval slices of bananas with the peel still on. Since this was a grilling establishment, I thought the bananas were for grilling, but my compatriots immediately fell upon the platter, so despite my misgivings about the deliciousness of banana peel (even the monkeys peel it off!) I joined in and delicately picked up a slice with my chopsticks and tried it. Immediately my entire mouth went dry and I decided one was enough and I'd stick to the pretty pink and white mound of flower shavings.

Soon after, our server came back with a tray of sauces -- a soup bowl of gray, thick concoction, highly pungent and topped with a bunch of peanuts -- and tiny trays of salt & pepper mix, limes, garlic slices, and extra peanuts. I was instructed that the grey sauce was Prahok, a general term for a myriad of pastes, sauces, gums, and spreads of all consistencies and colors, made of fermented fish. I dipped a chopstick in gingerly and decided it was delicious, so I poured myself a small tray and started dipping my veg.

Seconds later, two noodle bowls full of raw, red meat and a large platter of a gray and black, bumpy, almost hairy-looking meat arrived at our table. The beef smell was unmistakable. I promised them I'd try almost anything at least once, so I immediately took the smallest piece of stomach I thought I could (mua-ha-ha) stomach, and popped it in my mouth. The consistency was as it looked -- tough and chewy -- and the taste was as it smelled -- beefy beyond beefy. I'm quite sure it had no flavoring -- it looked boiled. It definitely would have benefited from a dip in the Prahok, but I wanted the unadulterated experience. I can't tell you exactly what my revulsion was, but if I'm honest, I think it had more to do with the presentation and the texture than with the taste.

Mr. Yu, grilling meats.

Eventually, we got round to the grilled meats -- some more delightful offal, and eventually some pieces of steak, which my colleagues (dear, dear folks that they are) pressed upon me with admonitions that I would need the "power" from the beef to push the car through the knee-deep mud of Mondulkiri roads the next day.