Most of all…

My friend, Justin, an ex-student of the school where I was teaching before I retired, contacted me that day to let me know that he was back in town and would like to drop by my house the following morning to pass me something.

I have not seen Justin for many years – he said it was three years ago but I do not quite remember now. We used to go out for dinner together when he was back in Sibu with our friend, Julia, who would be home too from Perth, Australia. I guess we can blame it on the pandemic but I have not seen either of them all this while.

Justin is married now (and so is Julia) to an Ipoh girl (I’ve yet to get to meet her) and they are expecting their first born around Chinese New Year early next year. The Chinese folks will always say that if you have a daughter, when she gets married, you will gain a son…and from what I’ve seen from his updates on Facebook, he has been to Ipoh regularly and after all this time, finally, he is back in Sibu again.

He wanted to pass me this otak-otak from Muar, Johore…

…the most famous in the country. Justin did give me these

…before but I guess those would be the factory-made and machine packed ones.

Gosh!!! He gave me SO MANY of them – the loose ones in the above photograph came in one packet and there were THREE packets altogether, all frozen. I guess these leaf-wrapped ones would be more authentic, the real thing but they looked so green and fresh so my guess was they were not cooked yet. I grilled them in the oven till the leaves turned a bit brown…

…before opening them to look at what they were like inside.

Inside each packet, you will find a very small piece of the otak-otak

…so small that you can easily eat it all up in a gulp or two! LOL!!!

I had otak-otak that had the texture of fish cake (or fish ball) before but no, this one was not like that. I would say it was more like fish paste…

…or the mashed fish meat that you use to make fish balls or fish cake.

With all the spices and ingredients used in the making, it tasted awesome and yes, it was very spicy too which made us enjoy it all the more but we would prefer the texture of the not-so-mushy fish flakes in Payung’s otak-otak here. Of course, my niece, the one working in Singapore, would disagree – she did mention once that she prefers the otak-otak from Muar. Ah well! To each his/her own, I guess.

Thank you so much, Justin – it is so very sweet and thoughtful of you to remember this old man after all these years and to go through all that trouble to get the otak-otak for me to enjoy. Gosh!!! You’ve given me so many that I am sure there will be some left, come Christmas…or perhaps, even Chinese New Year!!! In the meantime, do take care, God bless and all good wishes to you, your missus and the little one that is due very soon.

This has got nothing to do with the otak-otak but I thought I would just squeeze it in here. My missus is one happy lady these days because her tomato plants have started bearing fruits…

…and she keeps admiring them and praising them to the skies! I guess it looks like we shall not need to buy any for a while.