Tuesday, 14th November '06
En Ying's Chut Chut Adventure
Potentially a shuqingwen written in English, but I know y'all excuse my melodrama for the most part.
So there I was, in search of a gastronomic adventure. The family had gone to that Hong Kong Street branch at Bedok North Ave 3 for quite a while now, and we really hadn't done much in the way of venturing beyond XO fish slice beehoon and fish slice horfun. A previous attempt to order ham (yes, of mai ham! mai hum! fame) had gone awry because... well. Hong Kong Street had run out of ham. So today we decided to abadon the fish slice variants and opt for the sea cucumber duck, a slab of sting ray, and on a (rather big) whim, CHUT CHUT.
What's a chut chut, you ask. I suppose it's a cousin of the ham, lala, tutu and all other Chinese shellfish whose names bear more resemblance to a 2-month-old's repetition of monosyllabic utterings than anything else. Perhaps they name the silly, hapless looking creatures after the sound you end up having to make when you eat them - I don't know. You see, the chut chut is a little snail-like dude who makes his home in a conical spirally shell. His tail end (for lack of a more scientifically accurate word) is stuck to the sharp end of the shell and by the time he's cooked (in a stir fry of oil, chilli, chopped garlic and some other seasonings), his head end has shriveled up pretty deeply into the shell. Add this to the fact that a thin disc like piece of shell (more the texture of a prawn shell than a shellfish shell) covers the opening, this all just means that you have to put the one open end of the chut chut in your mouth and suck it for all your worth. Making a "chut chut" sound in the process.
It's all very unglam, of course. Picture a family of us making slurpy sounds with pointy shellfish sticking out between our lips.
It's also pretty strenuous work. So difficult, in fact, that I imagine rookie Geylang prostitutes might well be sent to Hong Kong Street outlets at Joo Chiat to practise their blow jobs on large chut chuts. I expect Dad had the same inkling, coz later on he said to please not tell anyone we ate chut chuts.
But I digress.
Now let me illustrate how difficult it is to eat a damn chut chut. First you have sort of inspect it to determine if its rotten. By the nature of the closed chut chut shell, you can't open it and see at a glance what you're eating until you suck on the end of it. It's not like ham. So if the chut chut is giving off a funny smell, I suggest you pick another piece. Next, you have to find a way to fit your lips around the shell opening. Human lips were meant for anything but chut chut eating. The shell's a funny irregular shape so you have to half purse, half pucker your lips over the opening. If that sounds contradictory, it's because it is. For me, a number of facial contortions ensued that would put Jim Carrey to shame.
Alright, so it's finally time to suck. You perverts. Here's the thing, it has to be controlled. You have to suck the chut chut bearing in mind that a little pool of hot oil has managed to gather in the deep recesses of the spiral shell, but it's now blocked by a combination of that disc piece in the front and garlic bits that have gotten in too. So as you suck, be sure to cap your glottis over your trachea to prevent choking. Ready, steady, slurp!!
My palette is hit with an oily, salty mix of gravy and garlic. BUT NO CHUT CHUT. Suck again. Nothing. AGAIN. Nothing. Damn you, you little piece of evolutionarily-inferior mollusc.
Mum says suck harder. Ok. SUCK. SUUCCKK. SSSSSUUUUUUUCCCCCKKKK. Nothing doing.
You know what, this sucks. (No pun intended)
I pick up the shell and it looks suspiciously empty. Either I have succeeded in eating the shrivelled little guy inside without even noticing, or there was never a little guy inside anyway. Oh, for the love of Mike.
Anyway, I go on to try a half a dozen other little guys and I get NOTHING. For all my efforts, not a single little chut chut waves a foot at me. Remember that I have no idea what a chut chut looks or tastes like yet. Because all I've seen are shells and oily gravy. It's doubly frustrating because Mum and Dad are having a fine time, getting nice pieces out of every shell. To rub salt on my chut chut (which I assume will disintegrate like a slug), they're laughing at me.
I wonder about inventing some chut chut eating tools. Like a tiny vacuum cleaner thing, or escargot picks, whatever they're called. Or a graduated corkscrew that can be inserted into the shell to skewer the chutchut and extract him.
On about the 8th or 9th piece we hit gold. A little skinny, dehydrated black thingie peeps out at me from the shell. Well HELLO THERE! I try to suck him out further but that's all he's gonna go. I get a toothpick from the auntie and with a lot of poking and prodding, he emerges, spiraling out of his shell.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT A CHUT CHUT LOOKS LIKE OUT OF HIS SHELL?? Utterly pathetic. It's not bloody and fat and juicy like a ham. It's not ugly like a topshell. It's looks like a piece of 4cm, gradient coloured package twine dipped halfway into chinese callligraphy ink and poked at with a yellow-green highlighter. It's coiled up in a helix and is so small you don't taste it while it's in your mouth and you only get a teeny bitter aftertaste when you swallow.
Needless to say I am very disappointed.
[5 photographs developed.]
I ate loads of those in China! They were so lovely. In chilli oil stuff. We dispensed with all this unsophisticated sucking business though -- everybody used toothpicks. It still required a lot of skill to not break it, I had to do it for my Mum (!!). Oh and by the way, molluscs are quite a successful group really...
OMG. that was so good it nearly killed me. *ROTFL* thanks girl, i was in a terribly bad mood before this, but that cheered me up muchly *ROTFLMAO*
and trust tzo to tell us all that molluscs are a successful group... *lol* omg i miss all of you so much *grin*
*glomps* chut chut~@! hahahahahaah
ps. i love yoru animal drawings *GRIN*
[tzo] i hope the china ones were bigger! these really looked not worth the effort.
[qiong] why bad mood? *glomps back*
haha... en, it sounds really interesting! hmm... me thinks that all of us (i.e. the 401 gang) should go try one day! sounds challenging mans... haha
[to qiong: cheer up! =) will talk to you if and when i see you online... ]