That's tempeh, a Malay soybean patty that's tasty when fried with veggies. The friend who was hosting dinner bought it in Chinatown here in London.
I've never actually dealt with tempeh before, so even cutting up the block I was like: Cubed, you say? How big? Like this? Like this?
It turned out all right. He also made a delightful chicken curry, and we all had some bak zhang (glutinous rice dumplings with meat filling), two from our clandestine Singapore suppliers, two from my aunt in Yorkshire.* I've never been a diehard bak zhang fan, but eating some at the same friend's dinner party a few months ago really made my cravings and the tastebuds kick into high gear. I've been researching recipes with another friend back home, and I'll have to add to the list the one included in my friend Cheryl's new book about Singapore food, A Tiger in the Kitchen.
The tricky part is the technique of wrapping the dumplings in bamboo leaves. We might have to cajole a friend's aunt to coach us, failing which we'll consult the step-by-step pictorial guide on Cheryl's blog.
I just made myself hungry at 11:20 pm by writing this post.
Edited to add (12 July): My cousin nardac, via Twitter, points me to umami's blog, where there's a post on how to wrap dumplings.
* Technically, the aunt is the wife of a first cousin once removed, but all those removed cousinships have always confused me and I've grown up calling her "Aunt" and the cousin "Uncle". I don't even know what the appropriate Cantonese terms would be.