At the end of my long Malaysian adventure, as I was saying goodbye to my host's kind and generous mother, she handed me an interesting gift.
Keropok. Kelantanese fish crackers.
Well, if there is anything I enjoy more than eating new and unusual foods, it's learning to cook new and unusual foods. So excitedly, I packed them safely into the middle of my suitcase, looking forward to the day I would take them out and fry them up.
Because that is the thing about these popular Kelantanese snacks. Although they kinda look like tortilla chips, you don't eat them right out of the bag. You have to deep fry them first.
Today was the magical day that I loaded up my electric skillet with plenty of oil, cranked up the heat, and fried my cute little keropoks. I was surprised and delighted to learn that when the raw crackers hit the hot oil, they sizzle for a few seconds and then whoosh! They puff up in a very satisfying way, becoming light and airy and fluffy in the process. Each one takes on a unique, curvy shape, and they remind me a little bit of overgrown kernels of popcorn.
Like most fried foods, keropok is best eaten when it's piping hot. We started nibbling on them as soon as they were cool enough to handle; only about half the batch actually survived long enough to make it to the serving bowl.
Best of all, this crispy keropok carried memories of the happy times I had enjoyed this snack during my trip:
Crumbling them into my nasi kerabu with Merey, Muahaha, Pija and Ramona.
Eating them out of a big plastic container with Hammie and Ida.
Snacking in the car during our dark drive over the mountains with Jurie and Aleesya.
I'm so grateful to my host's mother for giving me such an interesting, delicious, and memory-filled gift. Trimo kasih!