Question: Is it safe to consume ikan bilis that expired 4 years ago, or sambal paste from 3 years ago, or rendang mix that expired in 2011?
Affirmative. Affirmative. Affirmative.
As with other few (precious) weekends when I get to play the role of bachelor, when my wife is away visiting family, or at some medical conference, I turn to my vices. And in some ways I wish I could say my life was exciting enough to have secret sex orgies, or drunken escapades, or spending the night in the 'lokap' when I'm a free man, no, what I really do is cook.
As in cook Malaysian food that my kids, wife, neighbors and American friends consider to be more pungent than fermented gym socks.
And because I can't usually cook certain aromatic, spicy dishes, I hoard racks and racks of Malaysian spices. If you're a Malaysian expat living in abroad, you know what I mean. That pack of Bak Kut Teh spices or Rendang paste is more precious than my left arm.
So when you hoard stuff that you don't usually get to use, the inevitable happens. They expire. But who in their right minds would throw away otherwise perfectly 'good' food and spices from the Motherland??
After all, expiration dates are a government conspiracy. I tell my wife that nothing vacuum packed/frozen ever goes bad.
This weekend, with the missus being away at Boston with one of the girls, I took the opportunity to make Nasi Lemak.
My wife would rather inhale the air in a small sauna with a dozen flatulent sumo wrestlers than to smell ikan bilis. And with my kid having a peanut allergy, this is a no-no in our household. But with me being semi-alone this week, the timing was perfect.
Except I then noted the print on the packets. April 2012 for the ikan bilis. Ogos 2013 for the sambal paste, and Feb 2011 for the rendang spices.
For a moment, I thought about tossing them and not risking it. For all of 2 seconds.
But then I realized I already have my last will and testament and trust all written up. And life insurance policy in place. And my retirement portfolio has done quite well so far. So the family would be OK without me should shit happen. Literally.
And so, voila:
Nasi Lemak with sambal ikan bilis, ayam rendang, satay sauce. 8 hours later, I'm still alive and kicking. No gastronomic catastrophe yet. I haven't gone blind yet.
Except Ava was getting worried for me, seeing how much I was sweating. The beads of sweat was literally dripping off my head.
In retrospect, perhaps making a spicy dish on a warm 30C day wasn't the best time. But man, it was worth it. And perhaps speaking as someone who hasn't tried it, but there is no way some orgy would be more satisfying that a spicy nasi lemak meal.
Or can it?