I've not been that busy, but I've certainly been lazy. On the pretext of taking my daughter (the 'pearl in our hand', as somebody described it, is back on winter break) out to eat her fav food, I've not been cooking except for Wey who has tuition at night and can't come out with us.
Talking of tuition, I was disappointed and dismayed after talking to Wey's English teacher yesterday. Wey and I had a big argument a few weeks ago when I sat him down to work on his English. For his PMR exams in Oct, Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde is one of the two books he has to cover, the other being Robinson Crusoe. He claimed that they haven't been asked to read the novels; he doesn't even have a copy of the novels. What they are using this year is two workbooks on Dr Jekyl. School just started Monday, so I went to the teacher who confirmed that the kids aren't required to read the novels because by the time they go through the workbooks, they'd know how to answer the questions. When I protested, she said they have no time (didn't they have 3 years, Form 1 to 3? And the novels, used by other schools, are in very simple English which a primary school kid would have no difficulty reading?) to read the books because the classes are big, the kids cannot be bothered, there are too many other subjects to cover and literature makes up only 10% of the total score. She then advised that I can always send my son for tuition. I was stunned. I don't think I endeared myself to her, because I told her as graciously as I could that if I was teaching, I'd make sure all the students read the novel first because what is the point of teaching literature if the students are not taught to appreciate the beauty of the language, the story, the prose? Her final word was that what everybody wants is to get high marks in exams so the school caters to that want. And so I rest my case, that education in Malaysia has gone to the dogs. I don't blame the teachers as much as I blame the schools and the Education Dept and parents, those who insist on all As, who regard any grade less than an A as a loss of face. Education here isn't about knowledge, it's about how many As the students can score. It isn't about learning important and relevant useful subjects because if it is, then students won't have to struggle with 11 subjects (12 if you do Chinese), of which the three subjects morals, civics and life skills, as far as I am concerned ARE A BLOODY WASTE OF TIME. Make that four subjects, because history is also a waste of time since it is 90% Malaysian history made up to brainwash the kids on the monarchy, our founding fathers and the government. If I am the Education Minister and I am truly concerned about education, I would review the present syllabus without any agenda but with a single-minded goal to make education truly meaningful, enjoyable and knowledge and skills-acquiring rather than score-seeking. Besides those 3 or 4 subjects, I would also throw out geography too, and replace all of them with a new subject that emphasizes geography, geo science, environmental science and ecology. This is what the future generation needs to know, the limitation of the earth's resources and how we should manage and preserve them, instead of where rubber trees are planted in Malaysia and the names of the tribal dances and different musical instruments of the natives.
So to the Chinese who are fighting to teach Science and Math in Chinese, and the Malays who want those two subjects in Malay, I say "Boot to the Head". The whole education system is rotten and we are fighting about teaching those subjects vernacularly.
Okay, that's some huffing I've done. If you still want food, here's what I whipped up for Wey's dinner tonight: yakitori chicken. If I had the time, I'd have skewered some shiitake mushrooms, bell peppers and even chicken livers, which is popular in yakitori joints in Japan. You do need a very hot grill for yakitori or you'll end up with a skewer of steamed meat. Make the sauce well ahead because you'll need some sauce to marinade the chicken with.
I think I need some leong cha to cool my head.
300g chicken thighs
2 stalks of leeks
wooden skewers, soaked in water 30 minutes
1. Cut the chicken (with or without skin) into 4 cm squares, the leeks into 4 cm lengths.
2. Use 2 T of the teriyaki sauce to marinade the chicken for at least an hour.
3. Skewer the chicken and leeks alternately. It's good to start and end with a piece of leek because it holds the meat in.
4. Fire up that grill and grill the chicken on low heat for about 2-3 minutes each side, then increase the heat to high and baste with the teriyaki sauce for another minute or two. Be careful not to burn the chicken; the sugar in the sauce can burn easily and taste bitter. Serve with rice, or better still, with beer.
1/4 cup mirin
1/2 cup sake
3 T sugar
1/4 cup light soy sauce
2 pinches of dashi (optional, but I like the extra umami taste)
Put everything except the dashi into a small pot and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes (add the dashi towards the end of cooking) until sauce is thickened. Remember that the sauce will thicken further upon cooling. I got about 5 T sauce for this recipe.