Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pandan leaves worked like magic

A COUPLE of weeks back, I bought 4kg of gerut-gerut fish (barred javel in) at RM16 per kg at the pasar malam in Taman Melawati. It was a bargain as the flesh of the fish tasted as good as the red snapper although they are not related.

For those who had been fooled by fishmongers, into thinking that the fish was a cousin of the red snapper, RM20 per kg would be appear to be a bargain compared to the red snapper’s price of over RM25 per kg.

But since I knew that the gerut-gerut was not related to the red snapper, the fishmonger had to make do with the price I offered him.

On theway home, I suggested to my wife that half of the fish be cooked in gulai kesum — clear spicy soup with generous helpings of kesum (smartweed) leaves and kangkung (water convolvulus) — and the remainder be frozen for another day’s cooking.

My wife was surprised by how well the dish turned out. I told her it was to be expected as fresh fish can be prepared in any style. Only week-long frozen ones are deepfried till they are crispy and dosed with tomyam sauce so that the gullible would think they are fresh.

The next day, while thinking about how to cook the frozen half of the fish, I was hit by an overpowering stench as I opened my car door. It smelt like a pasar borong the day after trading. The bony fins of the fish must have punctured the two plastic bags they were wrapped in the previous night and spilled the juices onto the carpet.

For the next 24 hours, all I had in mind was how to get rid of the smell so that my colleagues would not think that I was working part-time as a fishmonger.

First, I bought the fabric deodoriser that I saw on TV and emptied half a bottle onto the car’s carpet. Then I placed a Japanese carbon deodoriser on the dashboard. If both was as effective as advertised they should remove the dead fish smell by the following day.

Next morning, my hope of catching a refreshing whiff wa s dashed. The stink was worse than ever. Then I remembered the bottle of French perfume I got for my wife years ago. She had only used it once because, according to her, it was too strong.

I sprayed 12 shots of the perfume (which I shall not name, out of professional courtesy) onto the carpet. If it worked, then it would be worth more than the RM495 I paid for that bulbous purple bottle of perfume years ago.

But the same stink greeted me the next day. If anything, my car smelt like a toilet, not like that eau de toilette. Then I recalled how I had used p an da n (screwpine) leaves to remove a tempoyak-like (fermented durian) smell frommy car a few years ago after agreeing to transport durians to a friend’s home.

I bought half a kilogramme of pandan leaves, spread them all over the carpet and parked my car under the hot sun for a full day and repeated it the next day. The pan - dan leaves worked their magic.

After 48 hours, the dead fish smell was gone. The pandan fragrance lingered for several days. Someone I gave a lift to saidmy car smelled nice. I wonder why no one has come up with a pandan fragrance and sell it as air fresheners. It may not be wise to smell like a cookie but I think most people would not mind their car smelling like bengka (a pandan-flavoured baked cake) instead of a bangkai (carcass).

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