Rojak (1966) (a Malay salad)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Tue Dec 28 14:43:22 UTC 2004

ROJAK--102,000 Google hits, 632 Google Groups hits
(Not in OED, "miserable on food")
WHERE DID BARRY POPIK EAT ON MONDAY?--Malaysia Village, 1 Doyers Street
(Chinatown). I tried Joe's Shanghai, but it was packed, even on a Monday. This
place was empty and I got to "make waves" talk with a Malaysian woman. I had
Satay Tofu ($4.75) and Mee Goreng ($4.75)--more than enough for under $10.
Penang's famous fruit salad served with chef's spcial sauce.
I have a few citations in the archives, but not historical. As expected,  the
Los Angeles Times has it.
18 December 1966, pg. K19:
_Singapore: New_
_Upholstered Asia_
_Variety of Foods_

Travelers with cast-iron constitutions can dine outdoors on Hokien St.,
where stalls specialize in hokien mee, noodles in prawn soup. For more
international variety there is Shenton Way, near the harbor. The cuisine here  can be
Malay, which might mean satay or chicken lontong, a sort of rice pudding  cut in
cubes and floated in chicken soup along with yellow ginger, chilis,  onions
and spices. The Indian stalls purvey rojak, a mess of bean cakes, fried  crab
claws, dusted with chili powder, sprinkled with cucumbers and onions and
smothered with a thick gravy.

The more formal Chinese restaurants - and they are very good if not very
elegant - offer such refinements of the high cuisine as pig's tripe and braised
pig leg in brown sauce. The Grand Shanghai Restaurant of the Mayfair Hotel on
Armenian St. has "Fish's Head in Bowl" and an item known as "Drunken
Chicken."  Connoisseurs who salivate at the thought of stewed duck's feet with
mushrooms  and sea slugs with crisp rice ought to hurry to the Mandarin Room.
2 November 1975, New York Times, pg. 370:
_What Singapore Offers, in Supreme Abundance, Is Food_
"WE have marvelous food," a friend from Singapore informed me. "Indeed, one
might say we have a fixation on food the way you Americans do on sex."
(Actually, Singapore is not bad for that, either, but I digress -  ed.)
(Pg. 16 - ed.)
Looking for a light noon snack one day in Queenstown food pavilion (that's
all one needs after a Hokkien breakfast), I was introduced to what became my
favorite Singaporean dish. It is called _rojak_. The hawker roughly chops up
wedges of unskinned cucumber, turnip, pineapple, fried bean curd and bits of
chewy, CHinese style donuts - all of which are tossed forcefully in a rich dark
 sauce of shrimp paste, chilis, shredded lime peel and juice, tamarins, a few
 dollops of a heavy palm sugar syrup called _gula_ Malacca and, finally,
coarsely  chopped roasted peanuts. That combination of bland but crisp fruit and
vegetables set against a dark sauce as full of resonances as a good Burgundy,
is  more than the sum of the parts...humble elevated to _haute_ for 30 cents.

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