Conditioning…

I have two friends in the US, Opal and Jennifer, and both of them are vegans…and despite the fact that most of what I blog about are far from being vegetarian, they do drop by and comment regularly. I guess they may be able to get some ideas from my posts and create their own versions – if I’m not mistaken, I know that Opal does cook some non-vegetarian delights for her daughter and her father but she does not eat them herself.

Well, I’ve blogged about all my different versions of fried rice before and the other morning, I decided that I would like to try one that would be 100% vegetarian – no egg, no dairy products…

Vegetarian fried rice 1

These were the ingredients that I used…

Vegetarian fried rice - ingredients

- four cloves of garlic, sliced, a spoonful of my missus’ blended chili, spring onions, chopped, a bit of pumpkin, diced and also a tomato (there was only one left in the fridge), cut up as well, four shitake mushrooms, sliced, stems removed…and sweet soy sauce.

I fried the garlic in a bit of oil in a heated-up wok till lightly brown before adding the pumpkin. I fried it for a while as I guess it would take a little bit of time to cook. Then, I threw in the mushroom and the tomato…

Vegetarian fried rice - step 1

…and fried everything together for a bit.

Next, I added the rice, the blended chili and the spring onions as well as a bit of the soy sauce…

Vegetarian fried rice - step 2

…and mixed them all thoroughly.

After frying for a bit, till all the grains of rice had loosened and come apart, I dished it all out onto a plate and served…

Vegetarian fried rice 2

So, was it any good?

I would say that I liked all the flavours that I could taste from all the ingredients used…but I was not all that fond of the sweet soy sauce that I used. I think the next time, I would just use our regular mushroom soy sauce that we always use in all our cooking. You may add a pinch of msg, if you like, but I have been doing away with that in most of the things that I cook these days except perhaps, when there are not many ingredients from which the dish would derive its taste from.

I thought that was nice, a welcome change, though personally, I would prefer my usual stronger-tasting versions but I suppose where all our eating habits are concerned, it all boils down to behavioural conditioning  or in simple terms, getting used to it. In my growing-up years, whenever there was any leftover fried rice, my mum would just fry with sliced shallots (and of course, people in those days used lard in their cooking) and add an egg, salt and msg – so very simple and yet, we enjoyed that so very much…at the time but after adding all kinds of stuff to my fried rice over the years, I guess I have conditioned my taste buds to much stronger tastes than before.

I sure wouldn’t mind cooking this again…and maybe, I can experiment with other ingredients to see what may be compatible with the dish. Personally, I would very much prefer buttons to shitake…

Boiling…

This is another simple dish that my mum used to cook during my growing up years and I really liked it a lot…

Salted boiled pork

It was one of those dishes where whenever there was any left over from lunch and kept for dinner, when evening fell and it was time to sit down and eat, there would not be very much left. Don’t look at me! I’m innocent, I swear!!! Muahahahahahaha!!!

Nothing can be easier to cook than this, take my word for it! All you have to do is to put the slabs of pork in some water in a pot…

Salted boiled pork 1

…and bring it to boil. Let it simmer for as long as you can, say, around half an hour, at least, to make sure that it is cooked inside.

Pour the water into another pot…

Salted boiled pork 2

You can save that stock for soup or to cook with vegetables or whatever else.

Add around half a teaspoon of salt to the meat and sprinkle a pinch of msg all over it. You may add more, if you do not mind those things – lately, I’ve been cutting down on them so I just put a bit of each. Cover the pot and shake vigorously to mix the meat with the seasonings added…

Salted boiled pork 3

Keep the pot covered and let it stand till it is time to sit down and eat. The heat in the pot will enable the salt and the msg to seep into meat to enhance its taste. You may shake it again once or twice, if you wish.

Going back to the the stock, add some water to it to dilute it a little and bring it back to boil. Add a pinch of salt and msg to it and garnish with chopped spring onions and fried sliced shallots…

Salted boiled pork 4

…and serve it as soup.

Cut the meat into thin slices…

Salted boiled pork 5

…and serve.

Well, there is salt added and also a bit of msg but at least, there is no frying involved, no added oil and the best part, of course, would be the fact that it is so very easy to cook…and yet so delicious to eat!

P.S.
DIJAMIN SAMPAI HARI ESOK (Guaranteed to arrive the next day)…and true to their tagline/slogan, I received these from Twilight Man yesterday…

From TM

Thank you so much for all the goodies from Japan. I’ve yet to cook and try the noodles…and I guess the mask is for my missus – I don’t think it will be of any help at all in my case…hehehehehe…and what’s the red ribbon for, by the way? Ah yes!!! And thanks also for the magazine – now, now…don’t anybody ask what magazine that was. See! See! You can see the pictures of all the food in my photo. Right, Twilight Man? Wink! Wink! LOL!!!

He sent the stuff the day before and with the consignment number that he gave me via his comment on my post that same day, I was able to go online to track and trace. As soon as I saw that it had reached the Sibu office at around 2 something yesterday afternoon, I went over to claim it – no problem at all! Actually, the delivery van was about to leave when I got there and they would have sent it to my doorstep later in the day had I not caught them in time. As far as our side is concerned, I dare say that we have no problem at all with the mail delivery – maybe they are more efficient, maybe there isn’t that much mail for them to cope with, maybe Sibu is a very small town so it is easy to get around…but unless the mail is held back there (due to flight delays, cancellations and what not – the excuses they may give), once it gets here, it will be delivered promptly.

And thank you also, Twilight Man, for the lovely postcard. It also arrived yesterday – while I was out at the Sibu POSLAJU office. What a coincidence!

Healthy…

When I was small, I was told that the seeds in a chili must be removed as they could not be digested and immediately, my over-imaginative mind started conjuring pictures of the seeds germinating and chili plants growing out of my ears and nose and bearing fruit. Gee!!! What a nightmare that was!!!

They also said that the core or the centre part would be the spiciest and once removed, what one cooked would be more easily tolerated as it would not be so hot anymore. Of course, those were the days when I was still small, not into anything spicy but these days, the chilies that I get from the market can be most frustrating as they are simply not spicy hot at all. Unlike in the past, I could just use my fingers to remove the seeds and the core, no problem at all. That is why I always say that they are good mainly for colour and decoration and nothing much else.

Ever so often, we would have to resort to using cili padi or this smaller version of the chili…

Chilies

…in order that we would be able to have that much-coveted spiciness in whatever we’re cooking.

I would never use a blender to grind my chili as no matter how many times you pulsate, the seeds would still be there, unaffected. So what I usually do is to cut the chilies into small bits like these…

Sambal belacan 1

…and pound, making sure that I crush all the seeds to powder…

Sambal belacan 2

…while doing so. Once you do not see the seeds anymore…

Sambal belacan 3

…the chilies would have been sufficiently pounded already, that’s for sure.

To make sambal belacan (dried prawn paste dip), it is best to toast the pieces of belacan first…

Sambal belacan 4

…over a fire in a non-stick pan so that it will be more fragrant and much nicer. I have seen those that have already been toasted on sale at the convenience store at KLIA (arrivals) but I don’t think we can get our simply-the-best Bintulu belacan pre-toasted like that. Ah well, it’s no big matter really as it is very easy to do that and will only take a minute or two – people can be really spoilt rotten these days, it seems.

Once done, put the belacan in together with the pounded chili…

Sambal belacan 5

…and pound some more. It may be a bit too dry for a dip so you can squeeze some calamansi lime juice…

Sambal belacan 6

…into it, stirring everything together and mixing them well. Use a strainer to prevent the seeds from dropping in – it is bad enough that you may have chili plants growing out of your ears and nose, I’m sure you would not want lime trees sprouting out as well. Muahahahahaha!!!!! Add more lime juice if you prefer it more diluted and add a bit of sugar if you find that it is a little bit too sour for your liking.

The other day, I was preparing this very yummy dip for my ulam (the Malaysian version of the salad)…

Sambal belacan & steamed brinjal ulam

…for lunch and I steamed some brinjal for that. There are a host of things that can go well with the dip such as cucumber, raw and cut into bite-size chunks, ladies’ fingers or long beans, lightly boiled, four-angle beans, kangkong, lightly blanched and so on and so forth.

I would say it is relatively healthy eating stuff like this as there is no oil used, no added salt (other than what may be  in the dried prawn paste) and no msg…and the best part, of course, would be the fact that I love it…a lot! Yum! Yum!

What’s left…

I got these organic wholemeal spirals from my cousin in Brisbane, Australia and Melissa used most of that to cook her pasta dish while she was home for the mid-semester school break…and I still had some prawns in the freezer from that time when I cooked my own Sarawak laksa so I decided to use what’s left to cook something for breakfast.

These were the ingredients I used…

Char pasta - ingredients

…plus some dark soy sauce and sugar and of course, the prawns as well…

Char pasta - prawns

I boiled the fusilli till al dente and drained before adding the soy sauce and a sprinkling of sugar to counter the salty taste plus a bit of my missus’ pounded chili since the sliced ones were absolutely hopeless – not spicy at all and good only for colour and decoration…and mixing everything together well…

Char pasta - pasta, boiled

I fried the chopped garlic in a little bit of oil till golden brown…

Char pasta - step 1

…and then I threw in the prawns and the sliced chili…

Char pasta - step 2

When the crustaceans were sufficiently cooked, in went the pasta…

Char pasta - step 3

…and after mixing everything together and frying for a bit, I cracked the eggs…

Char pasta - step 4

…and added those as well. Once done, I mixed the chopped spring onions with all that was in the wok…

Char pasta - step 5

…and it was done!

I dished everything out onto a plate…

Char pasta 1

…and served.

Yes, it was something like char kway teow (fried flat rice noodles) and if I had some taugeh (bean sprouts), I would have added some too to make it a whole complete dish by itself…

Char pasta 2

Personally, I do feel that kway teow is nicer but this is also good especially when that is all there is in the house…or when you see it lying around and would like to use up what’s left once and for all.

P.S.:
Need extra protection, anybody? How about trying this?
Thank you so much, missyblurkit, for the free one-year trial pack – the courier service guy just delivered it right up to my doorstep yesterday…

Norton 360

Much obliged…

Raw…

Actually, I was here at this place…

Wan Li

…that morning with Melissa and the mum in search of something for brunch. I did glance at what the people were eating and it looked like kampua noodles with some pork soup and Melissa said she did not feel like having that so we just went past and we ended up here instead.

Now, if anyone is interested, it is among the shops to the left of Medan Mall along Wong King Huo Road, behind the three blocks of shops to the immediate left of the shopping mall. Let’s just say that if you walk through here and come out at the back, this place is in the block of shops right ahead of you. Do take note, however, that it is not open on Wednesdays…

Wan Li opening hours

I saw Huai Bin’s post on it recently and since I was in the vicinity sometime last week, I decided to give it a try.

The kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee) was great (RM1.50)…

Wan Li kopi-o-peng

…and I had the set (RM5.00)…

Wan Li noodle & soup set

…which comprises a bowl of kampua noodles…

Wan Li kampua

…and this bowl of soup…

Wan Li raw meat soup 1

According to Huai Bin, sheng rou mee means raw pork noodles but the pork was definitely anything but raw…

Wan Li raw meat soup 2

He said the meat had been pounded into thin slices and cooked lightly so it was not overcooked and yes, it was very thin and very soft and tender, so much so that it almost felt like I was eating fish!…

Wan Li raw meat

Yes, the noodles were very nicely done, tasting like our original authentic kampua and the meat and the soup were nice too though I was kind of wishing they had liver and intestines as well in it – I didn’t ask if they have those and will add them to the soup upon request or not. I gather that they sell this in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah as well but since I have never had that there, I am in no position to make any comparison…but I am pretty sure that our noodles and theirs would be completely different and don’t bother asking me which one I think would be better – you know the answer! Hehehehehehehe!!!!

All in all, I do think this is something worth considering when you’re out looking for something nice for a change.

One night only…

Last weekend was kind of a mad rush as Melissa could not come back on Friday afternoon as they had replacement classes on Saturday.  Actually, that was somewhat a blessing in disguise as there was a terrible downpour and I could not imagine she and her colleague driving back all the way along our not-that-great so-called “highway” in the heavy rain. She only managed to come home the next day, Saturday, and then too, they were held back a bit and arrived home later than usual – around 4.30 p.m. After having had her forty winks, she had to get ready to go for the dinner we attended that night.

Since we could not go for the sunset evening service as usual, we had to go in the morning on Sunday. Right after that, we stopped by here for a bite. Melissa wanted the po piah but to our dismay, the stall was closed. I asked the people at the other stalls and they said that she had wrapped up her business and was not doing it anymore. Oh no!!!! Not my favourite po piah stall!!! Sobsssss!!!!!

In the end, Melissa had their mee jawa (RM3.50)…

YummyKafe mee jawa 1

…which was quite good but she missed the prawn fritters that we would get for the special at this other place for just one ringgit more. It did cross my mind, however, that they were very generous with the egg here…

YummyKafe mee jawa 2

…unlike at most other places where they would give half only.

I also ordered the roti jala (RM2.00)…

YummyKafe roti jala

…and I was delighted that theirs was more like the thin, slightly crispy ones like what I enjoyed a lot at one nasi kandar place in Penang and not the soft, lembek (limp) type that I had at this nyonya place in KL. The dip was quite hopeless though…so we ate that with the gravy in Melissa’s mee jawa. I think the next time I want to eat that I would just tapao…and bring home to eat with our own homecooked curry or some nice ones that we can get from elsewhere.

My missus had the Sarawak laksa (RM5.00)…

YummyKafe Sarawak laksa
*Archive photo*

that Rose had the other day and she loved it. She thought it was way nicer than our favourite here.

I had the kampua noodles (RM2.70)…

YummyKafe kampua

…and the pian sip soup (RM2.70) again and after that, we headed on home and after Melissa had had her bath and everything had been loaded into the car, we headed off to Melissa’s rural school.

It certainly was quite a rush last weekend, I must say, when Melissa was home for one night only…

Once-a-year day…

Gosh!!! Time does seem to fly, really…and it seemed like only yesterday when we had our reunion bash and before we knew it, it was time to get together yet once again.

My school’s alumni’s annual reunion dinner was held at the same venue on Saturday, 5th April…to coincide with the Ching Ming festival so that those ex-students coming home to perform their filial duties would be able to join. This year, the festival did not coincide with Good Friday so they did not have the luxury of a long weekend at their disposal – some had already got everything done the previous weekend or earlier during the week-long mid-semester school break. Probably that was why there were only 80 tables, or so I was told, as opposed to 100 last year…

SHOSA SEOSA annual reunion dinner 2014

There was a sape band in attendance…

The Etnik Revolution

- winners of the Borneo Talent Award, the Etnik Revolution, 3 of whom were former students of my school, playing some of the popular hits of today and also those from days gone by, in their unique traditionally and exotically-Sarawak style. I think I heard “I’m yours“. “The Final Countdown“, the very popular “Anak kampung” and a very familiar Mandarin oldie – if I’m not mistaken, it was this one.

There was also some entertainment such as this dance by our counterparts from our sister school…

Cha cha cha

…and of course, there was the food.

It was RM450.00 a table this year – if I remember correctly, it was less last year but I’m not very sure as I can’t really remember now. I do not know exactly how much a table was. Perhaps, the associations would use part of the money for their funds for their various activities, I wouldn’t know, but it did not matter really as I would say the food was good and we enjoyed what was served very much.

The first dish was our more-than-Four Seasons…

more-than Four Seasons

- the hot version with the gravy, kept constantly warm with the fire down below.

The soup followed and thankfully. I could not find any trace of the unmentionable in it so it was more like an egg and shredded chicken soup thickened with corn starch. It was very nice though – which goes to show very obviously that whether there is any of the offensive stuff in the soup or not, it does not make any difference as it is completely tasteless and more for some people to flaunt their wealth than for anything else.

Personally, I feel that the stuffed duck here…

Stuffed duck 1

…is the best in town and it did not matter one bit that they did not bother about the presentation for after the waiter had cut it up…

Stuffed duck 2

…it looked a whole lot better than when it was served…

Stuffed duck 3

…and it tasted really good too! We all loved the glutinous rice in it as well and in fact, Melissa had two huge servings of this!

Ken, my ex-classmate back from Brisbane, Australia, was swept off his feet by the fish curry…

Fish curry

…served with the very fragrant Sarawak’s own Bario rice. He said it was absolutely beautiful and I would say it was pretty good though I do know of a place in town that does it a lot better.

This vegetable and mushroom dish followed…

Vegetable & mushroom

…and then, there was the black pepper lamb…

Black pepper lamb

…which was nice too but I thought having had our fill with all that came before, it was kind of heavy and I would very much prefer a prawn dish instead…and lastly, we had the fruit platter.

I really must thank my ex-classmate and good friend, Robert, for making the arrangements and booking two tables for all of us – the Class of ’69/’71 from our school and the girls’ school next door…and the kind and generous guy insisted that it was his treat and simply refused to accept any payment of our share. Oh dear! Oh dear! And I even brought my family along – so shy lah, really!

Nope! I did not sing this year. We were all very good and behaved ourselves but I did go on stage to receive our lucky draw prize – they did it table by table and both our tables won something! This was what we got inside the boxes…

Lucky draw prize

They say they’re very good but I wouldn’t know as I would usually use some old towels or t-shirts as and when necessary and most of the time, I would just send my car to the car wash. I’m too old to wash it myself now, I’m afraid. Sigh!!!!

Ah yes!!! One more thing! There was this pretty lady that night who stopped by my table to say hello and she added, “I like your blog!!!” Ooooooo….that certainly made my day! It sure is nice to know that there are people out there who actually appreciate what I’m doing and enjoy my daily sharing. Now, who says old people are boring? Tsk! Tsk! LOL!!!

So, there you have it! Our annual reunion dinner for this year, 2014…and if anyone is interested, it has been announced that next year, it will be held on the 4th of April (Saturday) so those abroad especially can start planning their trip home right away…