frangipani: old map of Southeast Asia (Nusantara)
frangipani ([personal profile] frangipani) wrote in [community profile] steampunk_nusantara2010-07-18 03:18 am
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For the scanning and translation queue: Book of recipes

Item is a leatherbound book with blank paper pages, of which about three-quarters are filled with handwritten recipes.

Length: 28 cm
Width: 22 cm

Due to a small mishap in the labs, carbon-dating tests have yet to be conducted on samples retrieved from the book. It is badly damaged: there is a large burn mark on one corner of the back cover, and both covers and pages are partially covered with various combinations of soot, animal fat, vegetable oils, mineral oils, fermented chillies, fermented soy, spices, a number of unfortunate insects and various organic matter that was likely once involved in food preparation. There is a small hole approximately 3cm from the top edge, towards the right, a close examination of which yielded traces of gunpowder and lead. A dried Cinnamomum tejpata leaf was found tucked into the pages, possibly to bookmark a recipe for kerabu pucuk paku (young fernleaves salad).

There are two distinct authors. Author 1 writes primarily in a Chinese language, very likely the Southern Min dialect of Hokkien (traditional script, with a number of unique characters). Author 2 writes primarily in a dialect of Malay from what's now the northern peninsular Malaysia states and the Thai province of Satun (Jawi script). The authors appear to be very familiar with both languages and each other, leading to translation difficulties due to the utilisation of shorthand symbols and references to people/incidents. Can't we hire people who're less liable to throw tantrums over a text? Honestly.

I've excerpted two of the recipes, with the original annotations intact where possible. Both recipes were originally written in Jawi. Author 1 is in italics, and Author 2 is in bold. Translator's notes are in square brackets.
Masak Titik [Watermelon Skin Soup]

Fry a couple of handfuls of prawn shells and heads (This is enough? We should just use whatever we get from the amount of prawns to feed everyone) in 1 spoonful cooking oil until fragrant. Pour in enough water to cover the prawns and simmer until the prawn shells have given up all their taste. Strain into the pot with the flower handle.

Cut away the green skin and any remaining red flesh. (Too much waste.) Cut into chunks of about two fingers' width. Toast one small piece of belacan [fermented shrimp] until fragrant. Pound three small red onions [shallots] with a handful of shrimp and the belacan.

Bring the prawn stock to boil. Crush a few 5-6 white peppercorns and add into the stock with the pounded flavourings. Boil until the soup smells good, then add the watermelon skin and a little as much bird's eye chillies as you like. Season with salt. Cook until watermelon is tender but not too long.

Acar Timun [Pickled Cucumber]

Choose large cucumbers. For every cucumber, have one large turmeric root, one head garlic (The Captain says [s/he] doesn't like this much garlic. Halve it.) and five to six red and green chillies. Slice thinly the turmeric and garlic, dry for a few hours in a clean place in the engine room. Split and core the cucumber, then cut into thin sticks nearly the length of your little finger. Mix with a large pinch of salt, then place in a small basket over a bowl and leave it for a few hours in the engine room.

Heat some a few spoonfuls of oil. Fry turmeric until the oil is yellow, then discard the slices use them in [unintelligible]. Cool the oil for a while, then add equal amounts vinegar and water (half a cup or so for every cucumber). Mix in three spoonfuls of sugar and two pinches of salt. Cool.

Split lengthwise and quarter the chillies, discard some of the seeds. Put the cucumber, garlic and chillies into a jar, then cover with the liquid until completely submerge. Put a tight lid on the jar, then leave for at least two days before eating. (We have to guard this carefully. These people have no patience.)

I've just put in a request for a test kitchen to convert everything into metric measurements. Also, for any Finance pencil-pushers staff watching this: there's a line outside my department door for the recipes. Just so you know.