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Luck…

I don’t have much luck at lucky draws. Even with around 80 prizes for a staff of around 100, I would be one of the unfortunate few going home without a prize. Sobssss!!!! To add insult to injury, I was always the master of ceremony at those school dinners, the one conducting the draws and not winning one myself. In fact, at my retirement party, my principal reserved a prize just for me – for emcee-ing all those years (and missing out on much of the good food served) and not winning a prize…ever.

Thankfully, my girl’s not in the same boat. She seems to be a lot luckier than the old man…and she won something at a school party a couple of weeks ago and that day, at the lunch function that she went to, she came home with this…

Lucky draw hamper

And talking about that lunch function here…

Paramount Hotel, Sibu

…after we had our own lunch at the coffee shop next door, my missus and I went to that supermarket in town – the one that has all the imported stuff, to browse around…and I ended up buying these for my girl…

Pasta galore

…to enjoy. I know she loves such stuff and she sure was delighted at the sight of what I had got for her and cooked one right away that evening for dinner…

Fettuccine with bacon bits in creamy sauce

…with bits of bacon added. This was the made-in-the-USA (Orinda, CA) FARMHOUSE “durum wheat semolina pasta, parmesan flavour – fettuccine in savory cheese sauce with other natural flavors plus four cheeses and milk“. Yes, it was very nice…and each box was only RM7 something, serves two…and if it’s only RM3 something per serving, that’s a lot cheaper than eating something like this anywhere outside…and some may not even be all that great!

Of course, my missus did not have any as she is not fond of those rich and creamy sauces served with pasta and would much rather go for something like the bihun that I fried for breakfast the following morning…

Fried bihun with beef sausage, egg & green veg

…with beef sausages, egg and green vegetables.

Back at the supermarket, I saw these on special offer – R1.99 for each of those boxes with the Japanese characters and only RM2.99 for the one from Arnotts…

Special offers

…and no, the Arnotts one was made in Australia…

Australian import

…NOT Indonesia and if not for the fact that the expiry date was drawing close, you would never be able to get it at this price. Well, I’ve tried it but I can’t say that I liked it a lot – it was very sweet and hard…and I could not dip it in my coffee because of the chocolate coating. I would say that the Marks & Spencer ones that I got from my ex-student, Julia, the other day were very much nicer.

I’ve also tried the Japanese ones. The Coco Nut, even though I have never been a fan of coconut cookies (I’m not all that fond of those bits of grated coconut in them), were really very good – no grated coconut in them but the coconut fragrance was absolutely awesome, very rich and very very nice. Melissa loved the chocolate chip ones as well – she said they were very much nicer than the ones I bought for her to try the other day. At RM1.99 only a box, I think I would want to head back to the place and grab some more before the stock runs out.

Special request…

My missus went and plucked some more tapioca leaves (daun bandong/daun ubi kayu) from the belukar on some empty land around where my mother-in-law’s house is so I took a bit and fried them with some pumpkin, enough for the two of us for lunch and dinner that day…and no, I did not forget the serai (lemon grass) unlike the last time I fried this ethnic dish.

What happened was I went and shared this photograph on Facebook…

Daun ubi goreng dengan labu

…and somebody commented saying, “Pass me de recipe PLEASE….for pumpkin I only see Pumpkin pie Pumpkin Bingka n steam pumpkin for those on diet.” [SIC]

Well, I did get to cook this same dish again last Friday because my missus cooked this prawn curry…

Prawn curry

…for lunch and I just pounded some sambal belacan (dried prawn paste dip) and blanched some long beans for our ulam

Ulam, long beans & sambal belacan

…and both were extremely spicy and I was thinking that perhaps, my girl who was coming home that evening would not be able to handle those so well. That was why I decided to cook the tapioca leaves with pumpkin again that day for dinner. This time around, I photographed everything step by step in the hope that my friend would be able to dish out something similar since she had asked for the recipe.

Firstly, after having prepared all the ingredients including all the pounding, I fried a handful of ikan bilis (dried anchovies) in oil till slightly brown and then I pushed them aside and put in the pounded ginger and serai (lemon grass), bruised at the ends…

Steps 1 & 2

After frying those till nice and fragrant, I added a spoonful of the sambal belacan from the above ulam – this may be replaced by half a cube of ikan bilis stock or salt and msg but these should be added much later, not at this point in time. After frying for a while, I added the tapioca leaves, pounded, of course…

Step 3/4

…and not blended and if you are adding thinly-sliced chili, you may throw that in here.

I mixed everything together thoroughly and added a bit of water…

Step 5

…just a bit at a time whenever it got rather dry. Do not add too much at one go…

Step 6

…even though the water would soon seep into the pounded leaves and there will not be any left. But you would need a bit of it to try and see if what you’re cooking is salty and tasty enough or not. If you are using ikan bilis stock cube or salt and msg, you can add them here according to taste.

Finally, I added the pumpkin…

Step 7

…which I had cut into bite-sized chunks and boiled lightly to make sure they were cooked and soft enough. I had removed the skin as I was pretty sure my girl would not fancy the hassle of having to remove that while eating.

Just mix everything together thoroughly and continue frying for a bit and then, dish out and serve…

Step 8

This time around, I found that I had done a better job than the previous time as it was not so wet and was, therefore, nicer or that is how I personally like it. Some people may want a bit more gravy to go with their rice – that’s up to them. Like I always say, to each his own!

So there you have it, my friend – my resipi daun ubi dan labu goreng (fried tapioca leaves and pumpkin recipe). Good luck!

Enough time…

It seems to be the trend these days among young people to wake up very late. I know of some who would wake up at around noon, just in time for lunch! Thankfully, my girl does not sleep that long – on weekdays, she would wake up at around 6.30 a.m. to go to work and on weekends and holidays, she would want to sleep in but even then, she would get up at around 8 something or to the latest, between 9.00 and 10.00 a.m…and since I get up at around 5.00 to 6.00 a.m, or sometimes even earlier, I have enough time to cook something nice for her to enjoy for breakfast.

Last Saturday morning, I decided to use the meatballs that I had in the freezer, those remaining ones after I had used some to cook my bakso sometime ago. I fried them in a bit of oil till nice and brown…

Meatballs, fried

…and put them aside for a while.

Then I got the other ingredients ready…

Ingredients

…some chopped garlic (4 cloves) and Bombay onion (1 small one) and tomatoes (4), cores and seeds removed. I had made the mashed potatoes the day before using 4 potatoes, a teaspoon of garlic butter and 2-3 tablespoons of evaporated milk and 4 slices of smoked cheddar cheese – it turned out very nice indeed. I cannot remember now who gave me that packet of spaghetti bolognese sauce and it had been sitting there for quite a while so I decided that I should use it. Incidentally, actually this brand is available here in our little town.

I did think of using some pasta as a base but there wasn’t any in the house and neither were there any mushrooms, canned or fresh, so I had to do without those as well.

Anyway, to get on with what I did that morning, I fried the garlic and onion in a bit of oil and then I added the tomatoes and the meat balls. I emptied the contents of the packet into the wok and added 1 cup of water as instructed. It was very fast – the sauce thickened very quickly and everything was ready in no time at all. I poured some into a casserole…

Meatball bolognese

…and covered it with the mashed potatoes…

Mashed potatoes pie cover

There was enough leftover to make a smaller one so I did just that to give to my sis to enjoy – she stays with my parents and since the older folks are not into this kind of cuisine, she does not get to eat it very often.

I sprinkled a bit of parmesan cheese on top of both and put them in the oven to bake for around 30 minutes and it was done…

Baked meatball bolognese with mashed potatoes 1

I would say that it came out looking very nice.

I helped myself to a bit…

Baked meatball bolognese with mashed potatoes 2

…and yes, it did turn out really well.

When my girl got up, she too had some…

Baked meatball bolognese and mashed potatoes 3

…and she too gave her double thumbs up…and that, I would say, is reward enough when one cooks something – knowing that everyone loves and enjoys it!

Leftovers…

I think it was a packet of one of those “healthy” noodles that my girl bought to bring to her school sometime ago – the “twin vermicelli pack” containing some red rice noodles and millet noodles. She had cooked and eaten half of it and the remaining half had been sitting there idle for a while now so we took it home and the other morning, I decided to finish it all off at one go…

Leftovers

…and used it to cook this plate of fried noodles…

STP's fried noodles 1

I had also bought some barbecued pork ribs the day before for dinner and there were two chunks left and I also had the char siew (barbecued pork) oil and the drip from the roast pork that they gave me. I boiled the noodles and drained them well before adding the latter and tossing them together well…

Seasoning the noodles

I had decided to keep the former for another day, to fry rice perhaps, so I did not use that with my fried noodles.

I also cut the meat off the bones and sliced them thinly and I kept the bones to throw in as well later…

Meat from barbecued pork ribs

…as there was still some meat left and it would be such a waste to throw it all away.

Firstly, I fried some chopped garlic (3 cloves) in a bit of oil till golden brown and then I threw in the meat and the thinly sliced chilies (2) and mixed everything together…

Frying the ingredients

After that, I added the noodles…

Adding the noodles

…and lastly, two eggs and some chopped spring onions.

I tried a bit and found that it was not salty so I added a dash of fish sauce and a pinch of seasoning. Once, I thought it had been sufficiently fried, I dished it all out onto a plate…

STP's fried noodles 2

…sprinkled some fried shallots that I had at hand over it and served.

I do think that one can fry something that is more or less the same using those egg noodles available at the supermarkets and some char siew (barbecued pork), along with the other ingredients. Of course, you are free to add anything you fancy. I was thinking that a bit of green vegetables would help add some colour to the dish but there wasn’t anything compatible that morning in the fridge.

As it was, I would say it was very nice and I sure would want to fry something like this again the next time I happen to have some char siew and noodles in the house.

No need…

In my post on salted eggs the other day, contact.ewew mentioned salted egg fried rice and despite all the different varieties of fried rice that I had whipped up, that was something I had not tried! Well, it so happened that my brother-in-law gave us a whole lot of the local-made ones that he bought at the Sunday market here. We ate some and found that they were not really like salted eggs – perhaps, they had not matured sufficiently and since I had those in the fridge, I decided to give it a go.

It turned out pretty well – I thought it was quite nice and when my girl came home over the weekend and we had two left, I decided to fry it again for breakfast…

STP's salted egg and bacon fried rice 1

We did not have much leftover rice so I had to resort to throwing this and that in so there would be enough to go round. There were some bits of bacon left in the freezer and I took those and used, along with some sliced button mushrooms and tomatoes…

Ingredients

…and of course, I had the usual peeled and sliced garlic and shallots and some sliced chili and chopped spring onions.

I fried the garlic and shallots in a bit of oil till golden brown and then I pushed them aside and put in the bacon…

Garlic shallots & bacon

…to fry till nice and crispy.

Next, I added the mushrooms and tomatoes and chili…

Mushrooms tomatoes & chili

Make sure that the sizzling has subsided before proceeding as a lot of that would be indicative of a lot of moisture in the ingredients and if you add the rice then, it may turn out wet and soggy and not all that nice.

After that, I put in the rice…

Rice

I have seen on TV and also in many recipes where they tell you to loosen the rice first so your fried rice will not be lumpy. Don’t bother! There is no need to do that at all. Just use the ladle or spatula or whatever you call it to break the lumps apart and do not worry if it is still lumpy – in the process of frying, the grains will all come apart eventually.

Before I fried this the first time, I also looked at some recipes and for whatever reason, the ones that I saw told me to separate the white and the yolk first and fry them separately. Well, don’t bother…or at least I did not as I do not see the need to. I just broke the egg into the wok…

Salted egg

…and used the ladle/spatula to roll away the yolk and let the white fry on its own first.

Then using the spatula/ladle, I mashed the yolk…

Salted egg yolk

…that I had pushed aside before mixing both with the rice thoroughly. I don’t know if this would be different from doing it in the way suggested but as far as I am concerned, there is no need to go through that extra hassle.

Lastly, I added a dash of pepper and the chopped spring onions…

Pepper & spring onions

…and after I had fried everything together adequately, I dished it out and served…

STP's salted egg & bacon fried rice 2

Yes, it was very nice…especially with the added fragrance of the bacon but I still thought the salted eggs lacked the usual taste or smell that I particularly like about them…

STP's salted egg & bacon fried rice 3

It would be nicer if that had been stronger but this time around, it did not matter so much as the bacon sure saved the day!

Almost but not quite there…

Sometime ago, I got this from my friend in KL

Vegetarian bkt 1

…and the other day, I decided to give it a try.

I was thinking that if bak is meat and kut is bone and this isn’t going to have any of those in it, perhaps they should not call it thus but the English version is fine – vegetarian herbs and spices and incidentally, the A1 brand that we usually will use when we want to cook bak kut teh has been renamed. On the packet, it will just state “herbal soup” or something like that. I wonder why. Perhaps it is because there is neither meat nor bone in the packet and one would have to add one’s own?

Anyway, back to this one that I had on hand, I followed the instructions on the box to the letter…

Instructions

and put the pouch of herbs into slightly a little over 1 litre of water and boiled that for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, I soaked the vegetarian meat…

Contents

…in water for 20 minutes before putting them in the soup. I had expected some of those that they serve at some vegetarian places, made to look like meat, but no, the one in the box was just some pipe/tube-shaped tauhu kee (bean curd sticks).

The instructions mentioned shitake mushrooms but there was none in the box so I just had to add my own. I also added a bulb of garlic as I cannot imagine bak kut teh without that but I did hear once that vegetarians do not take garlic, some probably because of some religious reason but others say it will cause some side effect and leave a lingering odour. I saw in the photo on the box that they had some wolfberries as well so I added a handful of those too…and I also threw in some chopped daun sup (Chinese celery) together with the soy sauce mix provided in a separate sachet along with the herbs.

Well, when it was done, I dished it out and tried…

Vegetarian bkt 2

Yes, it was quite nice though I was not too fond of the “meat”. It had a smell, something like the knotted bean curd sticks which are not my favourite either. I think if I had used the regular tauhu kee, it would be much nicer…and needless to say, old habits die hard – I certainly would prefer to have some meat in it as well.

But we just had it as it was…as an accompaniment/a soup to go with my fried rice that day…

STP's bacon fried rice

…with bits of bacon, thinly sliced mushrooms and French beans and tomato wedges and egg…and one thing’s for sure – you certainly would not see me rushing to the stores in search of another box of that.

But thank you all the same, Pete – it certainly was very nice and thoughtful of you to go through the trouble of sending me that…and I must thank my blogger-friend, Nick, all the way in Sungai Petani, Kedah too. It seemed that he and his family were at Kek Lok Si and he picked up this lovely postcard from there…

Postcard from Nick

…to send to me. Isn’t that so very sweet of him? Thanks, Nick! Yes, I’ve met Pete before and I do hope I can get to meet you in person as well someday. Cheers!

Bitter…

It seems to be getting more and more popular these days – bihun, hung ngang or kway teow served in bitter gourd soup…and I seem to see it being served at a number of stalls all over town now. Usually, the vegetable is cooked in soup with minced meat but the other day, I decided to use the fish cakes that my missus made sometime ago. After all, they do sell bitter gourd stuffed with fish paste in the middle at those yong tofu places and I do enjoy that.

First, I boiled three cloves of garlic and two slices of ginger in some water…

Step 1

You may want to fry them in a bit of oil first for a bit of extra fragrance but I did not fancy the extra oil used. For one thing, my missus had deep-fried the fish cakes so there would be some oil from there already.

I let it simmer for a while before adding the fish cakes, thinly sliced…

Step 2

…and once done, you may wish to add some salt and msg or some fish sauce, according to taste but I just threw in half an ikan bilis (dried anchovies) stock cube and a sprinkling of ground pepper. As you can see, there were a lot of air holes in the fish cake – probably my missus did not slam it enough in the making, I wouldn’t know, but it did not really matter as it would taste the same, just as good, and it was for our own home consumption.

Then I put in the bitter gourd, thinly sliced…

Step 3

…but just the amount that I needed at that point in time. I had intended to keep the rest of what I cooked for our soup to go with the other dishes for lunch and dinner later that day and for that, I would add the bitter gourd slices later when heating it up as I don’t like the bitter gourd over-cooked and soft. In fact, it’s the same with any vegetable soup that I cook, be it sawi or cabbage or one of those leafy ones that would turn all soft and soggy when over-boiled.

There wasn’t any bihun nor hung ngang nor kwayteow in the house so I used noodles instead…

Bitter gourd fish cake noodles 1

…and topping them with the bitter gourd and the fish slices…

Bitter gourd fish cake noodles 2

…and a bit of chopped daun sup (Chinese celery), that was what I had for my breakfast that morning.

Yes, it was very nice – I certainly enjoyed that…

Bitter gourd fish cake noodles 3

…and of course, if you wish to add your own ingredients – some chopped spring onions and fried shallots…or even a poached egg, perhaps, that is all up to you. I would say that I was quite happy the way it was but no, the bitter gourd was not bitter at all, not even a little bit. I wouldn’t mind a bit of bitterness…actually.