Friday, February 19, 2010
No bow, just lotsa arrows.
It was one week before the Lunar New Year and I was at Carrefour buying groceries. It was a weekday and the crowd was manageable, or so I thought. As I approached the produce section of the hypermart, I noticed a large pack of housewives (I am assuming -- it was mid week, after all) hunched over a mound of something (I could not see at that point).
Curious, I inched closer, careful not to thread on anyones toes, ready to explain that I was there to look, not to forage. What I saw didn't excite me. Small, pale yellow, dirty looking bulbs smaller than a baseball, bigger that a golf ball. I walked away, dodging flailing arms and runaway shopping carts. I didn't think of of those bulbs till a few days later when a colleague announced that she spent RM90 on Arrowroot Chips for the Lunar New Year. After some enquiry, I learnt that the costly chips were made from those dirty looking bulbs that were going cheap at Carrefour.
Arrowroot chips are a common Chinese new year snack and though the arrowroot is dirt cheap (get the pun), the process of making the chips is so tedious, most poeple are willing to pay exhorbitant prices for the ready made chips (RM15 for a medium sized plastic bottle). Oh! and did you know that the American Arrowroot is called the "obedience plant" and that the native American Indians are believed to have used the roots from the plant to neutralize venom in wounds of poisoned arrows?
Today, I came upon some arrow root at the grocer again. Since the New Year festivities are coming to an end, the bulbs were goint for really cheap: RM3 for a kg or so. I bought a half kilo; thinking I'd try my hand at those chips.
Not being very large, each bulb yields only about 25 chips. For a family's consumption, you'd probably need about 20 bulbs. The tedium lies in peeling the small round bulbs and slicing them. I can imagine that to make enough for a New Year Open House would be back breaking. But since I just bought 10 bulbs, I kinda had fun with it.
All you have to do is peel off the outer skin of the root and then slice them thin with a mandoline, spread them on a towel to dry for about an hour and then start deep frying them in hot oil. Fry them batch by batch till they start to turn golden.
Once done, sprinkle a little salt and pepper on them, toss and store them in an air tight container.
These chips are best eaten:
1. When you're seated in front of the TV. OK, not seated, more like slouched.
2. When you're with beer.
3. When you're chatting with guests or just starring at your dog. Cats don't count.
4. When you're down and feel like a few extra pounds ain't gonna make things worse.
5. On a rainy day when you can't go out without messing up your hair.
6. Or just anytime.