I was watching the TV on my previous trip back home and Astro AEC was running a show which talks about the 老字号 good old brands of Malaysia. It was quite interesting, so I ended up staying on this show even though I was actually watching a re-run of The Voice. By the way, sad to hear about Christina Grimmie being shot dead by a crazy fan.
That particular episode featured a 1930s matchstick factory in Kelantan, an equally old tea leaves distributor in Penang (which I have not heard before, surprise surprise), and an equally old factory in Perak that produces this:
蘭花豆酱. Taucu Cap Orkid. Orchid Brand Fermented Soy Bean Paste.
Taucu is basically the brainchild of industrious Malaysian Chinese immigrants of the mid 1800s/early 1900s. It is the byproduct of soy sauce making. Well, soy sauce is made by fermenting soy beans and then squeezed to separate the liquid soy sauce from the beans. The leftover bean paste, while ugly, still retains some of the saltiness so instead of throwing them away, folks began to cook this shit with sugar and salt, pack them in jars and sold them as cheap alternative to soy sauce. Hence, the taucu is born.
Seeing this on TV brings back certain childhood memories to me. You see, my grandma was an old school Taiping woman, and she loved this fermented paste. When she was still actively cooking, this extremely salty paste was a staple in our diet, much like what those aunties in the TV show claimed. She’d add a tablespoon of this (or maybe a few tablespoons) into her pork belly stir fry or minced pork stir fry or best of all, ikan bilis (dried anchovies) stir fry.
So when I spotted this on the shelves while grocery shopping last weekend, I grabbed it without thinking. Hence, the picture above. 🙄
I don’t have dark (heavily caramelized) soy sauce so this dish does not appear dark like how my grandma liked it, and I doubt I will ever be as “brave” as my grandma so I only used half a tablespoon for two portions of this bilis minced pork.
Still, the fragrance… it stayed in the house long after I have had dinner and chucked the remaining half into the fridge. Now my fridge smells wonderful as well.
Now this would go extremely well with rice, but I did not buy rice because I still have some of those linguine left in my disposal, so…
So, sooooo good! Crispy anchovies with nostalgic salty minced pork and beans… om nom nom nom~~~