Archive | January 2012

Not really…

I knew my friend, Kongkay, had been there as I saw his photograph taken at this place…

FishCulture Sibu

…on Facebook but when I asked him about it, he did not sound very enthusiastic at all.

But I had heard some favourable reviews of the kaya (coconut jam) buns…

Kaya buns

…with kaya and salted egg inside.

Kaya bun inside

I also heard that they were selling those traditional Foochow fish balls – the ones with minced meat inside…so the other morning, I decided to drop by the place to give it a try.

I ordered something that looked like it…

Quail egg meat balls

…but it turned out that they had quail eggs inside and I wasn’t sure whether it was fish or meat…

Quail egg meat ball inside

The ham rolls or should I say, luncheon meat rolls were something I had not seen elsewhere before…

Luncheon meat rolls

…so I ordered those too. They had century egg inside…

Luncheon meat roll inside

…and I also tried the siew mai/sio bee (meat dumplings)…

Siew mai

After I had had a sample of the things they had to offer at this place, I could jolly well understand the response I received from Kongkay when I asked him about it…and if you should ask me whether it is any good, my response would be: “Not really!”

Simple (1)…

This happens all the time. After a few days of eating all the delicious but rich and heavy foods like chicken curry…

Mrs STP's chicken curry

…or these to-die-for assam prawns with pineapples…

Mrs STP's assam prawns with pineapples

…or this yummy masak hitam beef from Annie-Q‘s mum…

Annie-Q's mum's masak hitam

…I would start craving for something simpler and lighter.

So on the 4th Day of Chinese New Year, I got up early and cooked some plain porridge and fried some omelette to eat with it…

STP's plain porridge & condiments

I added Bovril to the porridge though I do not mind having it plain or with Marmite…and I also had the fried peanut ikan bilis (anchovies) that I had mentioned in an earlier post with it.

I would have had other condiments as well but I did not plan on cooking it so I did not stock up on the usual suspects when it comes to Teochew porridge like salted eggs, century eggs, fried dace with black beans, preserved lettuce and so on…but no, I would not touch tau ju (fermented tofu). My missus loves it even though much has been said about it being detrimental to health.

Ummmm…that was good – simple but nice!

Thanks for being there…

I am truly blessed that I have such wonderful friends who will always be there whenever I need them…

My daughter had just gone over to Sungai Petani around three weeks ago so she was not keen on making the journey to and fro all over again just to come home for a week or so for Chinese New Year. Besides, she had a lot of assignments to do so she being the kind of person that she is, I am sure she would definitely not enjoy herself even if she came back.

Thankfully, my dear friend, Eng, who lives and works in Bukit Mertajam, offered to come over to SP  to pick her up and take her to Penang (island) to join his family for the reunion dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve. Melissa has a wonderful time with them – nothing like being surrounded by the warmth and happy feeling among the family and their loved ones all around, that’s for sure. They had steamboat and after dinner, they even had games and she won three of the prizes…and from the photograph that she shared on Facebook, it looked like she got some ang paos too! They sent Melissa back that night itself and she got back around midnight – when she called home, it was already around 12.30 a.m.

Then, on the 2nd day of Chinese New Year, Mandy said she would drive over from Butterworth to Sungai Petani and offered to take her out for lunch. Well, Melissa had a friend who stayed back with her (instead of following one of their friends home for the festival) – Myra, a Kadazan girl from Sabah…so I asked Melissa to ask Mandy if she would mind if Myra came along for the lunch. Of course, Mandy, knowing the kind of person she is, did not mind at all…and good grief! She took them to some expensive Chinese restaurant and they had fish…

Fish in SP

…and prawns…

Prawns in SP

…and ooooooo….pork belly with mantao

Pork belly with mantao in SP

…and vegetables.

Vegetables in SP

I don’t know if it’s the usual price or whether they jacked up the price because of Chinese New Year but I understand the bill came up to over RM100 but not exceeding RM200 for three persons!!! *faints*

I truly am indebted to the two of them for what they have done…and for friends like them and also for many of you out there who would have done the same if you had the chance, I am most grateful and will give thanks and praise the Lord each passing day.

Always welcome…

This year, I did not really hold an open house for the Chinese New Year festival the way I used to. We would cook a lot and for at least three days, we would be inviting relatives, colleagues and friends to drop by for lunch or dinner or in-betweens. However, our door was always open for anyone who cared to drop by and other than the cakes and cookies featured in my previous post, on the first day, there would be some special dishes for everyone to enjoy.

My cousins and their families came from Bintulu, Hanoi in Vietnam, KL…

Cousins and families

…and Penang…

Cousin & family

…and like we usually did every year, we had my in-laws over for dinner in the evening of the 1st day of Chinese New Year…

In-laws

…and they included those back from Bintulu, KL and Singapore…

These pretty ladies dropped by too…from Hongkong, Singapore and Kuching…

Pretty ladies

…and here, you can see them helping themselves to the pai tee (top hats).

My friend, Kongkay, and his family from Kuching were here as well with their boys, currently back on vacation from Melbourne, Australia…and my godson and ex-student, Andrew, and his wife were home from Christchurch, New Zealand and they came with my other ex-students from Sacred Heart – Chuang Bing from Miri and his wife and Hang Yuh from Kazahstan…and these were my students in Form Five 1995 – from Penang, JB and KL (not in photo)…

SHS students Form 5 1995

…while these were my students 2006/2007 for two years up till my retirement…

Ex-SHS students 2006/2007

…currently still furthering their studies in Penang, Brisbane in Queensland, Australia, Perlis and Kuching.

My good friend, Lim, and his family took time off to visit us too…

Lim & family

…and what a delight it was to meet a long-lost friend from way back in 1975! Jackie (far left) and I were renting rooms at a house and staying with a family in Kuching – she was working there while I was a temporary teacher at St Patrick’s at the time…

Peony Bryan & family

It was Peony Bryan, her niece, who brought her to my house and gave us a pleasant surprise! Peony Bryan’s living in the UK and all this time, she has left comments time and again in my blog and we also communicate via Facebook…and she was back in Sibu for the very auspicious festival.

She also gave me these, thanks so much…

From Peony Bryan

…but I think I will keep them for a while till when I do not feel so bloated so I can really enjoy them to the fullest.

Julia and Luke, back from Perth, and Justin came to say Happy Chinese New Year and goodbye as the former two would be going back to Australia in a few days’ time. Hopefully, I’ll get to see them again when they come back for the summer holidays at the end of this year.

The biggest group that came comprises my ex-students from Chung Hua where I was teaching in the 80′s…

Ex-students from Chung Hua 1

They used to visit me way back then in BIG groups and this time around they came with their wives/husbands and children and there were so many of them that there wasn’t any space to move…and many had to just stay put where they were or sit on the floor. As far as I know, some are living in Sibu while others are presently based in Kuching…and one’s in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei…and it certainly was so sweet of them to remember this old teacher of theirs and go through the trouble to drop by to wish me a Happy New Year.

Ex-students from Chiung Hua

Well, it does not have to be Chinese New Year or any special occasion. Our door is always open and everyone who cares to drop by is free to do so and is always warmly welcomed…

People get ready…

We’re into the 5th Day of the Chinese Lunar New Year now – the Year of the Dragon. So how has it been for all of you? Gone back to work already, some of you? I guess most people have taken the whole week off to go back to their respective homes.

Did you have to contribute your part in the cleaning and the cooking? Before the big day arrived, everybody would be cleaning the house from top to bottom…and in my neighbourhood, I would hear the sound of pressure pumps as they all diligently washed their driveways till they were all sparkling white and clean. I wonder why they bothered since they would get it all dirty again with all the fireworks and firecrackers on New Year’s Eve. They would also put up the red lanterns that would all be gaily lit all through the night – I did not bother to have any. I don’t think I would want to waste my money on the electricity…but I did decorate the house a bit…

CNY decor 1

…just the bare minimum…

CNY decor 2

…to brighten up the house a bit and to have a little bit of that festive mood…

CNY welcome

…but I had no intention of overdoing it and making my house look like some kind of Chinese temple.

Then there would be the cooking and the baking to be done. I was lucky as I had the intoxicating fruit cake that Elaine gave me…

Elaine's fruit cake

…and I also had the extra-old fruit pudding from my aunt in Kuching, also heavily-laced with brandy…

Auntie Irene's fruit pudding

…and the meat floss rolls from Annie-Q

Annie's meat floss rolls

I bought this very nice muruku from a bakery here

Aroma's muruku

…and their peanut cookies were very nice too…

Aroma's peanut cookies

My missus bought these pineapple rolls from Penang…

Pineapple rolls from Penang

…and she also bought the pineapple nuggets from another bakery in town…

Daily Bread's pineapple nuggets

They used to be very good…but I found that they had shrunk and there wasn’t very much pineapple jam inside. I think we would not buy those anymore from now on.

She made two types of cookies of her own – the butter cookies, Golden Churn no less…

Mrs STP's butter cookies

…and the Nestum cookies…

Mrs STP's Nestum cookies

…both of which were very nice, and she baked/steamed these cakes as well…

Mrs STP's cakes

There were also the baked cashew nuts with garlic butter added, her fried peanuts with ikan bilis (dried anchovies) which would have been a hit among those who could drink but nobody did…and  a whole lot of other cookies that she bought, all in their original containers, sealed airtight, as  there were simply too many to serve so those were never taken out in the end. Hmmmmm…I really must remind her to be more prudent come this time next year…

The night before (2)

It has always been the annual practice of the true-blue Sibuians to travel from near or far to get home to Sibu for Chinese New Year every year. In fact, right after this one, there would be people booking their air tickets for next year already just to make sure that they do not miss out on the joyous and auspicious occasion. In fact, air fare is often the most expensive from KL or anywhere else to Sibu…and I’ve heard of people flying to Kuching or Bintulu and taking a bus from there home as it would be cheaper that way.

Now what is the attraction here that they can never find anywhere else?

Weeks before the day, there would be sporadic outbursts of fireworks and firecrackers that would gradually get more intense as the day approaches. On the eve of Chinese New Year, families and friends would gather for the reunion dinner…and they would ignite a string of the explosives before the dinner and sometimes, after as well. This would go on all afternoon and evening and into the night, when one would get to see fireworks of all colours and designs…

Sibu CNY fireworks

…lighting up the skies here…

Sibu CNY fireworks 1

…there…

Sibu CNY fireworks 2

…and everywhere…

Sibu CNY fireworks 3

The climax would be when the clock strikes twelve…

Sibu CNY firecrackers 1

There would be a barrage of sound and smoke as everyone lights their strings of firecrackers…

Sibu CNY firecrackers 2

…and set off their fireworks of an array of designs and colours into the smoke-filled sky. By around half an hour or so, it would all be over and everybody would go to sleep to rest for the big day the morning after.

This would be the typical sight outside every Chinese home in town the next day…

The morning after

…except mine!

Now, if anybody’s keen on coming to Sibu for Chinese New Year next year, it will fall on the 10th of February, 2013. Book your air tickets early to grab the bargain fares and to avoid disappointment!

The night before (1)…

Come Chinese New Year, members of the family would come home from near or far to sit down together at one big table for the reunion dinner. Unfortunately, this year, Melissa has just left for Sungai Petani some three weeks ago and would not one to go through the hassle of travelling home and going back there again even before “the seat has become warm”, so to speak and my brother and his family overseas have never made the trip round this time of the year. Thus, there were only my parents and my sister, my missus and me this year.

When she was in Penang a couple of weeks ago, my missus bought some pai tee (top hats) shells so I cooked the filling and we had that for the dinner…

Pai tee

She cooked her ngor hiang (five spice meat rolls)…

\
Ngor hiang

…and also this fish fillet and fish maw vegetable combo…

Fish fillet & fish maw veg combo

…and this was the steamed chicken and abalone soup that we had…

Chicken abalone soup

Even though she doesn’t eat duck, she cooked this lor ark (braised five-spice duck) and eggs…

Phak lor duck

…for the rest of us to enjoy and she also prepared the salad that we usually have and everybody loves…

Salad

All in all, it was a delightful dinner to bid goodbye to the old year and welcome the new one…in the hope that we would be blessed abundantly with health and happiness in the days ahead.