i’ve always been exposed to “western”-styled breakfasts at home ever since i was a kid. the reason for the inverted commas is the perception of what western breakfasts were like to the malay folks of my parents’ generation. my dad didn’t live in opulence in spite of who my granddad was, but he and his siblings had been lucky that when it came to meal times, they were exposed to more than just nasi. in the days when the brits were in malaya, i had a feeling a lot of british produce came as canned items to cater for the expats who miss their home-made shepherd’s pies and yorkshire puds. one breakfast dish that was commonplace at home was corned beef, fried with bawang besar and cili merah potong. not exactly haute cuisine, as corned beef is pretty much makanan murahan in this neck of the woods.

other canned goods that dad loves include anchovies in olive oil which he relishes in having with nasi putih, and sheep’s tongue which he used to buy from the cold storage supermarkets at the old weld. we tried to look for something similar but to no avail (the nearest was ox’s tongue at the food market in harrods). i find it bizarre that these items were seen as ‘upper crust’, but i guess in them days, they must have been too expensive to consume on a daily basis!

it wasn’t until last year that i started to enjoy sardines with bawah merah and cili (a recurring theme!), topped with a squeeze of lime juice. lucky for us, cap ayam sardines are easily obtained from wing yip. such simple fare but so much joy when consumed, especially with toasted bread!