2010-02-17

Maggi "Perencah Asam Laksa"

Brand: Maggi
Flavour: Perencah Asam Laksa
Format: brick-in-packet
Packets: one
Identifiables: noodle brick, flavour powder
Sodium: unknown

The third of the ramen flavours I received from "Hana from MIT" (thanks again!) turns out to be a very interesting one, a set of strange contradictions. I'll eschew the usual chronological style of my reviews and go with a more Powerpoint-ish point-by-point system for this one. Consider it a belated Valentine's Day gift, if you're into that sort of thing (and baby, there's almost nothing wrong with that if you are.)

The packaging of this Malaysian noodle starts out simultaneously more colourful and more "designery" than any of the common brands in the States. There are subtle gradient effects, a photo that doesn't look nearly so abhorrent as one might expect, and a cheerful illustration for cooking directions. Those directions are amusingly simple, however. They consist of a picture of a pot of water already over a flame with the noodle brick, the flavour packet, and two 200ml cups of water being dropped or poured in. It seems to imply adding ingredients at the same time, but that goes against conventional wisdom given that the noodles have to cook for two minutes and they'll barely be warming up if the water starts out at room temperature. It's an odd bit of ambiguity for a package that reminds me of the over-explained over-designed packages aimed at American audiences.

The over-explanation is saved for the flavour packet, which is pinked and has a clear (if small) instruction to "tear here". If one can assume boiling water but not figure out how to open a packet with zig-zag edges, then... well, I was going to remark on the absurdity of that, but I do wonder about folks who would wonder why I need instructions to boil water for such a simple food but assume that foil packets are natural. It's a culturally relative thing, perhaps? I wonder if the Na'vi make noodle soup. Wait, no, I don't.

I boiled the water first. It turns out that I may have been wrong, somehow. After two minutes' cooking, the noodles actually came out a little mushier than I'd usually like, which by contrast lends credence to the previously reviewed noodle's claim about noodle springiness. I expect mushiness from four minutes or so, but two-minute noodles really should be a little more al dente, even if they're not terribly Italian.

The single flavour packet turns out to generate something more complex. The pungent-smelling orange broth is rather tangy with a seafood-and-citrus theme, and some spice. More than most other noodles, I can see folks being split on whether this is good or not; I'm rather enjoying it, but I could see it being a real turn-off for some people in a way that most seafood ramen wouldn't be due to that moderately astringent note. It's almost balanced by being so overpowering in the citrus aspect that it seems like a feature. Without knowing the dish this is based on, I can't really tell if it's authentic or accidental. In fact, I think I'll just level the numbers across the board for this one, even if I like it a little more.

Post scriptum: There's a little semi-glurgey bit on the back of the package about the "just-in-case noodle traveller" who always packs instant noodles in their luggage just in case wherever they're going runs out of their culturally signature food. Somehow, I don't think I'll be bringing these noodles with me on my next trip. Then again, I just might for the bizarreness factor....

Numbers: packaging 3, preparation 3, heat 3, flavour 3, overall 3
Music: Inoue, Nozaki, Hirarin, Kame - Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones (NES) - China ~ Chin (Kungfu Master)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Asam Laksa is a fish-based noodle dish which is supposed to be sour, or "masam" (which is where the asam comes from). In Malaysia, it's very common for people to add all the seasonings into the noodle along with the water, and to stir as it cooks. The general consensus is that, once the water boils, take it off the stove and serve it.

Jessie Tracer / Electric Keet said...

A. Mous:
Ooh! Thanks for the information on that. I'll definitely have to give another try at these soon with your recommended cooking style.

Anonymous said...

Just cooked some of these now. eeew. fish. saying that I'd have probably still ate them had I remained uninformed about the fishyness.

Anonymous said...

Asam Laksa is the Malaysian answer to Tom Yum Goong, IMHO. Love that sour-fishy kick. Try the real thing if you are ever in Penang.