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I Know It's BEEN Sauce, But What Is It NOW?

As a foodie, are you a Platonist or an Aristotelian?

Do you believe that there is, for example, the Perfect Black Bean Sauce situated somewhere in the realm of The Eternals; a sauce untouchable, inviolate, and distant, which earth-bound Black Bean Sauces can only aspire to through their chefs' contemplation and homage?

Or do you believe that there as many great Black Bean Sauces as chefs care to invent; that some have application here and some have application there, and that observation and experimentation will keep moving the standard around the palate according to the relative preferred tastes of gastronomic contemperoneity? (new word?)

Or do you have no idea what E@L is raving about after three beers?

Me either, but the 'Steamed "Song" Fish Head in Black Bean Sauce' at the Hong Kong Street Family Restaurant in Thompson Rd is/was a revelation to E@L tonight.

For a start, you don't get fish-head in Hong Kong, you get fish and it comes with the head. But in Singapore you get, tah dah!, the head half of the fish. As with many chicken dishes in Chinese cuisine, you wonder what did they do with the good bits? But of course, that's part of the East-West cultural divide. These ARE the good bits!

And the sauce was brilliant. That overly-salty clumpy black stodge which features in every No:69...

(Lusty Chinese Wife during love-making: Give me 69!
Chinese Husband: You wann fish brack bean sauce NOW?)

...on every Chinese menu in the Western world (in Geelong - psycho-rapist central - anyway) and that comes in its domestic incarnation indestructibly and Platonically preserved in its Ideal in a small Masterfoods jar that's been sitting in your fridge since the days of The Cultural Revolution and The Little Red Book, well it has as much to do with tonight's sweet and spicy not-too-salty more-ish concoction as the Bush-Blair WOMD plan for the restructuring of Iraq had with the tribal/ethnic/sectarian civil war that has since ensued.

The black beans were mixed modestly and delightfully in a thickly rich chili and spring-onion soy-based sauce. Nothing overwhelmed, which is usually what black beans tend to do, right? But not this time. It was just so different to E@L's previous unhappy encounters with BBS. Maybe it wasn't brilliant, maybe it was too sweet, but as a first time experience of the Singaporean version, it was magisterial and memorable. Bloggable in fact.

E@L, cynical old fart, hereby grants that he still has the capacity to be amazed.

The fish itself was delicate and underdone to perfection, if you know what I mean. This type of fish has a plethora of small bones above the transverse spinous process of the back-bone (which you can pick/spit out of course), but the boneless thoracic flaps were thick, tender, fleshy and juicy. The cheek was also particularly huge and delicious. It was a bloody lovely fish, in a nutshell. Well, no nutshell really, but you know what I mean.

The mixed vegetable with seafood dish was much more typically Hong Kong style. Totally bland so as not to upset delicate Cantonese palates. I ended up dipping the prawns, squid and fish slices (so that's what they do with the good bits!) into the copious BBS left-over on the fish plate! Yummy.

A great feast. With fried rice and those 3 cans of Tiger, it was $45 or so. Should be enough for two normal people. Maybe 4 beers in that case.

Very Much Recommended.


This post also highlights E@L's typical Saturday night social life. Dining alone followed by blogging about it, and trying to be funny to amuse a bunch of ungrateful fuckers he doesn't even know. (OK, maybe the readers he does know are grateful... But don't interrupt, I was having a rhetorical conversation!)

And not even getting paid for it.

Holy fuck I've gotta me get a fucking life.



Posted by: expat@large on Dec 09, 06 | 9:41 pm | Profile


*salivating* darlin, that sounds magnificent! i haven't had chinese food in over a year( was san francisco a year ago? sighing) ... anyway, if i'm ever in singapore, i'm "having what you had" (so wanted to quote the exact line from the deli scene in "when harry met sally") but i digress..

not responding to or interrupting the rhetorical conversation you're having *smile*

Posted by: savannah on Dec 10, 06 | 1:11 am

I like that you can still be amazed, and that somewhere on this planet food still has the power to make your taste buds sing.

My Saturday Night ended up a comedy of canceled plans and a whole lot of nothingness as well...next time I think I will just join your club.

Posted by: Indiana on Dec 10, 06 | 1:56 pm

Sav - "I'll have whatever SHE'S having."

Indy - what's that place I've never been to? We should do that...

Posted by: expat@large on Dec 10, 06 | 2:19 pm


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