I have switched from supermarket grocery shopping to wet market shopping in these recent weeks. I found that if I am going to cook oriental dishes, ingredients are available in abundance. For example, when I was reading a recipe which calls for fenugreek for making curry, I had a hard time finding that in the supermarket spice shelf. In the end, I spotted one bottle and shelled out $5.75 for a tiny bottle. Only to find out that in the wet market, Indian spice stall was selling the spice for a mere $0.50!!! So, I paid $5.25 tuition fee.
While I was at the Indian spice stall, I overheard a Malay lady ordering a packet of soto rempah (spice mix). Ah-huh! Decided to copy-cat and make soto as well! Although I have the recipe to make soto from scratch, but ordering from the Indian spice stall does makes things easier. No grinding or pounding. Just dump the whole packet of spice in and fry in oil until frangant. However, I found that the spice mix was not frangant enough. Something was still lacking in it. Hmm.... perhaps I ought to try making from scratch using the recipe I have got.
There is one lesson to take away: when making crispy fried shallots, turn off the fire when it is light brown, cos the shllots will continue to brown AFTER the heat has been turned off. (That's why my crispy fried shallots are so dark!)