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I was in the Rejang Park area the other morning as I was helping Melissa’s housemate to pay the electricity and water bills for her house in Sibu. That is another problem that they face teaching in a rural school – they can only come back on weekends when all the collection centres would be closed plus the bills always come so late – just a few days to the expiry dates (especially those from Telekom Malaysia – at times, the bill even arrives past the due date for payment) so it may be difficult for them to meet the deadline. They may be able to make it before the offices close on Friday afternoons but that would be quite a rush really.

After having settled what I had to do, I decided to drop by here to try their kampua noodles (RM2.50)…

Jin Jin kampua mee

I’ve had their fried kway teow before and I thought it was pretty good – among the best in town, I must say. This is not a very big area of shops but there are more than half a dozen kampua stalls, some  of which I have tried…but not this one and a few of the others as well. I thought this one was all right – not the best here and definitely not the best in town. However, I did like it a lot more when I’ve tossed the minced meat with the noodles as I could sense a hint of garlic – probably they used that in cooking the meat and that brought it to a whole new level.

I wasn’t all that thrilled by the one next door when I had it a long time ago – my favourite around here is still the one here while this place was not too bad either. I don’t mind the one here either but it was their coffee that was the main attraction but since the guy left, it had gone downhill and I, for one, would not bother to drop by there anymore. My friend, Philip, who is currently home from the US, went and tried the one here and he said it was just so-so – not one that would get him rushing back for more. I do recall having the one in the same shop as this stall as well a long time ago, probably before I even started blogging, but I cannot remember whether it was any good or not. All in all, I would say that most would be good enough if you’re in the vicinity and would like to stop by some place for a bite to eat but I would not make my way there on purpose for any of those that I have tried.

I also tried the mixed soup (RM3.50)…

Jin Jin chap-chap

,,,which, like the kampua noodles, was, at best, not too bad. There was quite a bit of liver and intestines inside…and other than those, they also had some fish falls, deep-fried and tau kua (bean curd cake) and some green vegetables. I wished they had some mined meat balls but there wasn’t any – all the minced meat they had in the soup was in the tau kua

Jin Jin chap-chap - tau kua

Incidentally, if ever you’re in Sibu, you may notice that when you go and eat at the shops, they will bring you your spoon and chopsticks or your fork and spoon in a mug or cup of hot boiling water. If I’m not wrong, this is a ruling laid down by the municipal council in an effort to ensure cleanliness at all eateries in town but I do get quite worried when they use those plastic ones as there may be some adverse effects resulting from the reaction of the heat in the water with the plastic. In this particular shop, everything is in a basket, all ready for use and once you’re seated, they will bring you the hot boiling water in a mug and all you would have to do would be to pick what you would want to use to eat and dip them in the mug yourself…

Hygienic practice in Sibu

I would not know how far this is effective but it is good that at least, some people are trying to do something for the good of all and everyone should give their full support and cooperation.

Outside…

Nope, this isn’t exactly new – it’s only new on the outside. The wrapper…

New look

…as you can see, is much nicer compared to what it was like before…

The original look

If I’m not mistaken, the makers of the now-celebrated Sibu instant kampua noodles went to Taiwan and went some place there to see how they packed their noodles and they came back with a machine of their own to do just that.

For one thing, I would say that it certainly looks more presentable, more like those established large-scale factory produced ones and probably, this would make it easier to go through customs if you are bringing any overseas. I was told once that they were very particular with noodles in plastic bags like this…

Mee kua in plastic bag

…if they were yellowish in colour as that would be indicative of its egg content but if they were white like in the case of mee sua, they would let you through. I also heard that they would be more lenient with factory-manufactured stuff so my guess is that they probably would not cast a second glance at the instant kampua in this new wrapper…

New look - back

…thinking that it would be just another one of those that have flooded their own (Asian) stores and supermarkets all over their country.

However, this is only available for the original kampua noodles, the straighter ones with light soy sauce and not for the curly and flat (mee pok) versions nor the one with dark soy sauce and the vegetarian version (with onion oil, not lard). It is a bit more expensive though – by RM1.00 so a pack of 5 packets would cost RM7.50 instead of the usual RM6.50 (or RM6.90 for the mee pok).

I bought two packs for my godson/ex-student, Andrew, to try – I’m not too sure whether he brought any back with him to New Zealand or not and I got a pack for myself as well. Inside, you will get the noodles and sachets sealed in a plain plastic pack like in the old packaging so it is actually a two-layer package unlike what you will find in the case of the usual instant noodles.

As you can see, it does look good…

The Kitchen instant Sibu kampua 1

…but of course, you will need to add your own slices of meat, fried shallots and chopped spring onions for the complete works.

Many would agree that it is ALMOST like the real thing that one can get in the shops and if you divide RM7.50 by 5, it is only RM1.50 for a plate…or if you are buying this in the old packaging, it comes up to only RM1.30 which makes it a lot cheaper that when you eat at the shops and order the kosong (without meat). Other than that, you can enjoy this anytime of day in the comfort of your own home but of course, you will need to cook it yourself…

The Kitchen instant Sibu kampua 2

You’ve tried yours, Merryn? Nice or not?

If you can’t beat them…

…join them, they always say…and ever since the success of the instant Sibu kampua, there have been many others that have jumped on the bandwagon. Some are more expensive, others are more or less the same price and whether any of them are good or not, I wouldn’t know – I don’t think I would bother to go and try any of them unless someone tells me of one that is very much nicer.

Likewise, the Penang white curry instant noodles have taken the world by storm and is currently No. 1 in this blog, edging last year’s winners to No. 2 and No. 3 respectively. Of course, others have come out with their own of the same and I did hear of a brand that is better but no, I haven’t tried it yet. Correct me, if I am wrong, but one thing that I know about Penang curry mee is that it is usually served white like this…

Penang curry mee 1

…hence the name but once you’ve mixed the sambal (chili paste) with everything that’s in the bowl, it will be like any other curry mee in colour…

Penang curry mee 2

…but of course, the taste may differ from place to place and even in Penang itself, there may be some stalls or shops that are a lot better than others, exactly the same thing with our kampua noodles in Sibu.

However, as far as I know, there is Kuching laksa, named after its place of origin, which is also called Sarawak laksa…but never in my entire life have I ever heard of Sarawak white laksa

Lee Fah Sarawak white laksa 1

- the Sarawak White Rajahs, yes…but not this and I really do not see how it should be thus called by mere virtue of the fact that now, they have included a sachet of santan (coconut milk) powder in each packet…

Sachets inside

I used to buy this a long long time ago when they had bihun in the packets – which is actually what you would get if you order Kuching or Sarawak laksa anywhere in the city or the state but for reasons known only to them, they stopped producing that, only the ones with mee/noodles…and I stopped buying it since.

I would give them due credit for the fact that their laksa does have the fragrance and taste of the real thing and I do know of people like my cousins in Kuching who would put aside the mee for use for something else at a later date and use their own bihun instead…and of course, like me, they would add their own condiments and garnishing…

Lee Fah Sarawak white laksa 2

…to come out with something that is more or less like the real thing without having to drive out for a bowl at the shops.

No, I did not buy any to try though I did see it in the shop, not when the price has almost doubled…from RM3.50 for to RM6.90 for a pack of 5. I am sure that little sachet of santan powder does not merit such an astronomical jump and as a matter of fact, I still would not think it is really worth that much even if they had added a sachet of sambal belacan and one of calamansi lime juice as well which are things that you simply cannot do without if you’re having Sarawak laksa – it’s the whole complete package.

However, my missus came home with a pack one fine day so since I had it at hand, I thought I might as well cook it and eat…

Lee Fah Sarawak white laksa 2

Yes, the taste and fragrance are still there. Yes, it is very nice with all the stuff that I added. Yes, if you’re wondering what Sarawak laksa is like, this will give you a pretty good idea…but no, at that price, you can be sure that you will not catch me buying and eating it again, not unless they review the price and bring it down to something a lot more reasonable.

Thin line…

This has been out for quite a while now, the fettuccine-like mee pok version of the Sibu instant kampua (RM6.90, 40 sen more than the usual)…

Sibu instant kampua, mee pok 1

…from the original maker or the pioneer, the one who first started making this stuff for sale and to be sent here, there and everywhere. Mee means noodles and pok means thin as in paper thin…

Sibu instant kampua, mee pok 2

Recently, I went and got myself a pack to give it a try and for the uninitiated, to cook this, you need to bring a pot of water to boil and put the noodles in…

Step 1

Loosen the strands and let it boil for around 3 minutes…

Step 2

After that, you drain away the water…

Step 3

At this stage, you can toss the noodles with the ingredients and eat already but usually, I would go a little bit further. I would put them in cold water and rinse well to remove any excess starch so that the noodles would not be sticky and clump together.

Step 4

Then I drained away the water and poured in some boiling water and put the pot back on the fire to heat the noodles up a bit. I am sure it isn’t all that nice to eat them cold. Lastly, I drained away the water and tossed the noodles with the ingredients provided in little sachets – one of the lard plus onion oil and the other, the light soy sauce.

Finally, garnish with thinly-sliced boiled pork and fried shallots and chopped spring onions and serve…or perhaps, you may want to have it with roast pork belly instead…

Sibu instant kampua mee pok with pork belly

…or slices of roast chicken…

Sibu instant kampua mee pok with roast chicken

…or whatever. It’s all up to you.

It may look kind of plain but those of you who have tried this Sibu Foochow delight and have fallen in love with it…

Kampua lover
*Photo from www.smallkucing.com*

…will attest to the fact that the beauty of it is while eating, you can savour the fragrance of the lard and the fried shallots in it plus the flavours of the shallots added and the spring onions…and the added taste of whatever meat or any other condiment that you may be having with the noodles.

Incidentally, it seems that many have jumped on the bandwagon and have come out with their own versions of the instant kampua noodles. This one…

Imposter
*Friend’s photo on Facebook – sorry for the blurry pic*

…is selling at the Sibu Central Market at RM7.50 a pack and I was told that they are also selling the original there at this same price too. Gee!!! That’s easy money – just order and collect…and sell at a profit of RM1.00 per pack. I also heard that there are others selling at around RM6.00 or RM6.50 as well. Of course, I have not tried any of them…but if anyone of you has done that and finds any that is nicer, do let me know. I’d go and grab some right away. Thanks.

No coincidence…

There is this superstition among the Malay and ethnic communities that if you are offered something to eat or drink and you would not want it, you would have to touch it, at least, outside on the glass or cup or plate, or you can just take a teeny-weeny bit of it or else some untoward incident would befall upon you. The Malays call it keempunan and the Melanaus call it poonek. In fact, if you can get hold of a copy of 22 Malaysian Short Stories, an anthology of literary works compiled and edited by Lloyd Fernando (1963), you will find a story on this.

When I was very much younger, probably around 1970 or somewhere then, I went to Kuching and my friends took me to this restaurant, Ang Lee, at Carpenter Street for lunch…or maybe it was dinner, I can’t exactly remember now. I did not want a drink other than the plain water that I asked for but my friends kept asking me – three times to be exact…and it probably was a  coincidence that as we were leaving the place, I slipped on the first step of the wooden staircase, got up, slipped again, got up yet again and slipped the third time. By then, I was already on the ground floor – I did not sustain any serious injury but I can clearly remember that it was very painful for me to sit for at least a week.

A more recent and definitely a lot more serious incident would be when we went to KL that time when Melissa was very small. We had just checked into the hotel and my missus was making coffee for herself. She asked me if I wanted some and I said no…and soon after, we left for the theme park in the city. It was drizzling that afternoon. I had just bought the tickets and we had just entered when I saw somebody slipping on the slippery tiled floor, so I told Melissa and the mum to walk slowly and carefully. As I approached the stairs going down to the park, I felt myself sliding even though I was just standing still – it was that slippery. I slipped over the edge of the first step on the stairs and sat down. I guess it was sheer bad luck that my elbow hit the upper step and the bone broke into two.

There followed months and months of hospitals and eventually, surgery (to join the bone with a piece of metal and six screws as it failed to heal and reconnect by itself) and physiotherapy and I had to go to a Chinese sinseh for treatment before I could get my arm back to ALMOST normal again. I did write to the theme park and they replied paying me around RM200, the initial money spent at the hospital in KL, enclosing 10 complimentary tickets to the park – of course, I just threw them away and to this day, I would not go anywhere near that place again.

So was it sheer coincidence, fact or fiction? I wouldn’t know but I would take that bit about touching the glass, cup or whatever on the outside when someone offers you a drink or something to eat as good manners, a gesture of appreciation – thank you, but no, thank you.  However, personally, I would feel that if you had drunk or eaten a bit, you might as well drink or eat it all as nobody would want it anymore after that and it would such a waste to throw it all away…and whatever it might or might not be, it wasn’t because of this, that we were here…

Zen

…at Jalan Chew Geok Lin (formerly Old street) near the Chinese temple in town last Saturday for lunch.

We had not had Japanese for a while now, not since early December when Melissa’s friend from Sg Petani, Kedah came to town. I think she was craving for it for when she came back the day before, she dropped by the place for a very late lunch at around 3 something but it was already closed and would only reopen much later for dinner. In the end, she had no choice but to have something else…and that was why the following day, I took her there again so she could enjoy what she was hoping for.

I noticed that they had a nice new menu now…

Zen - menu

…though they could have done a better job with the binding – the middle page was already coming off.

We had this fried salmon dish (RM14.90)…

Zen - fried salmon

…which everyone liked. I would say that I prefer it done this way instead of the usual grilling on a pan as the strong smell of the fish which I do not really fancy seemed to have been toned down by the coating and the deep frying.

The soft shell crab sushi with meat floss (RM15.90)…

Zen - soft shell crab with meat floss

…was very nice too and they certainly seemed very generous with the floss and virtually buried everything else with it.

The inari kizami (RM6.90 for two)…

Zen - inari kizami

…was good as well but there was a bit too much of the roe on the ebiko sushi (RM3.90 for two)…

ebiko sushi

…and that made them a bit too salty.

We also had the tempura mortawase (RM13.90)…

Zen - tempura mortawase

…and the tempura don (RM15.90)…

Tempura don

…which came with a bowl of miso soup and a couple of watermelon slices. Both were ok, pretty mild tasting – quite typical of Japanese cuisine and one would be able to savour the original flavours of whatever one is eating…though I did wish they had fried rice instead of plain rice in that don thingy.

The bill came up to slightly over RM70.00 for the food and of course, Melissa enjoyed herself a lot and was very happy and needless to say, when she’s happy, the father would be happy too… Wink! Wink!

Green fingers…

One advantage of living in the country would be the fact that you have a lot of land all around you to plant your own fruits and vegetables and whatever. That, of course, is a good thing in this day and age with the escalating prices of virtually everything. Unfortunately, you can’t do that if you’re staying in high rise apartments and condominiums in the city or even if you do have a landed property, there will be so little land around the house to do much…and most people would rather use whatever they may have for landscaping to beautify the surroundings by planting flowers and decorative leaves and trees.

Unfortunately, not all can grow stuff successfully – one would need to have green fingers in order to do it well…and I am pretty sure that Melissa’s neighbour at the staff quarters in her rural school is pretty good at it. When I sent Melissa back there after the week-long holidays, I noticed that he has been busy and has planted a lot of things in the available land.

Now, let’s see if you can name all the things he has planted. I am sure many of you would know what these are (PICTURE 1)…

PICTURE 1

…and you probably can identify those with the five-petal leaves…

PICTURE 2

…but what about those with the heart-shaped ones (PICTURE 2)?

These are creepers so the guy had to put up those sticks for the  plants to climb (PICTURE 3)…

PICTURE 3

Later the flowers would appear and subsequently, the fruits.

You would have seen these in the pictures earlier (PICTURE 4)…

PICTURE 4

I love the sweet variety, selling at around RM6.00 for four at a shop near my house. What I know is they get their supply from out of town in bundles of 5 or 6…and they would untie them and take out 1 or 2 to make their own new bundles…and sell them all at the same price – RM6 for 4. Tsk! Tsk!

Many of you would know these too, I suppose (PICTURE 5a)…

PICTURE 5a

- it seems that they are not that tolerant of heat or direct sunlight so that is why the guy has built some kind of shed over the vegetable beds.

Here’s another look at the same (PICTURE 5b)…

PICTURE 5b

…and this one is pretty familiar too, I’m sure (PICTURE 6)…

PICTURE 6

Now, can anyone give me the names of all the vegetables in the photographs? If you can, you probably deserve a prize, right? Let’s see how it goes. Come, give it a shot!

Give…

In my younger days, I hardly ever got to go for any wedding luncheon or dinner unless it was somebody in the family who was getting married.

I do remember, however, how there would usually be two men seated at a table by the entrance or near it with a mini-suitcase by the side. In later years, that was replaced by the so-called “James Bond bag”. One of the men would collect the ang paos from the guests arriving and he would take out the money and count and then he would say the name of the guest out loud and the amount given. The man seated beside him would write it all down in  a thin exercise book and the money would be thrown into the suitcase, all of which would be handed over to the host at the end of the day.

That reminded me of the scribe and the tax collector in those Biblical days and I would not say that was a very good system, not that anyone gave two hoots and was in any way bothered about it, since it was the accepted practice at the time. However, there was one time when somebody gave RM100 in RM50 denomination and as he was walking away, he thought he heard RM50 only. So he went back and checked and true enough, only RM50 had been recorded in the exercise book. He demanded for the ang pao packet and the man took it out of his shirt pocket – the other RM50 note was inside. No one could tell whether it was accidental or intentional but obviously, this seemingly foolproof way of collecting ang paos may be abused by unscrupulous individuals if they were thus inclined.

I also remember one thing – the exercise book would have to be kept and when one was invited by one of those guests in the list, one would have to attend and give that same amount – you cannot give more nor less. Good grief! Way back then, people would usually give RM10.00 only per head. Imagine if I were to go to a wedding reception today and give, according to the past record, just RM10.00. That was quite a lot then but it is certainly too little by today’s standards.

People often lament when they get a string of those red “summonses”…

Wedding invitations

…as that would mean they would have to keep forking out the money for the ang paos.

However, things may be, at times, a little different here. I don’t know who started this trend but very often, one would get to see this…

No gifts

…in the invitation cards. Some would be more specific and state that gifts in cash or kind are respectfully declined…and some would also include congratulatory messages (in the newspapers).

Yes, at any wedding in town, there would be those people from the local Chinese dailies hovering around like hawks, waiting to swoop down on you the moment you’re seated. It wouldn’t be so bad if there is just one or two but more often than not, there are a number of them and it can get somewhat irritating when they come round to ask you again and again and at times, the same one even – they certainly are quite persistent. I think it costs RM20.00 per head to add your name to a list of others in a congratulatory message in the paper the next day or so. Actually, I would rather give an ang pao even if it means I would need to give more for I do feel that in cases such as these, the only people laughing all the way to the bank would be those newspaper companies.

I guess if you’re one of those rich tycoons in town, you can easily afford to throw a grand and impressive party anytime but rich or poor, I am pretty sure that any parent and the newly-weds would have saved up more than enough for the special and happy occasion. Still. I do feel it is better to let people give an ang pao

Wedding ang pao

…as a token, more in appreciation of the invitation than anything else. Tradition has it that when people give you something, you have to give something in return and the same applies here. They have invited you so an ang pao would be in order and the best gesture to show that you appreciate it very much, much better than buying a gift. I was told once that in the past, in western societies where giving ang paos is not the norm, the intending bride and groom would pass a list of things that they would need or want for their relatives or friends to choose what to buy for them – that certainly was a good idea and one would not end up with a dozen tea sets and half a dozen toasters and rice cookers. I’m not sure if they still do that these days or not.

If I’m not wrong, this practice of not accepting gifts, cash or kind, is quite unheard of outside of Sibu…and I am glad that people have done away with the “scribe and tax collector” system of collecting ang paos these days. It seems that they would just prepare a box and you can just drop your ang pao inside…like depositing cheques at the bank. Whatever it is,  I don’t mind really as I love going for weddings, meeting friends and mingling with the other guests, basking in the joy all around and enjoying the food…

Entree

Yum! Yummmm!!!! What about you?

Time…

I used to read a lot before but for some reason or other, I stopped. One reason, of course, would be the fact that books are extremely expensive these days and are no longer that affordable. The fact that one can deduct the amount spent on books in one’s annual income tax return is little consolation. Eventually, all that I would read would be the monthly issue of the Reader’s Digest and gradually, that too would be left unopened every time it is delivered – I am still subscribing as my girl wants to read it so these days, she would be the one enjoying it every month.

Actually, she buys a lot of books and very frequently too but it is perfectly all right as she enjoys reading a lot and will re-read those that she likes very much. Besides, she does not spend on much else so I do encourage her to do so and would take her to the bookstores to browse around and pick the ones she likes, not that we have a lot to choose from here, I’m afraid. Most bookstores here would be packed to the brim with workbooks, a sad reflection of the modern day kiasu society where everyone is fighting tooth and claw to attain excellent grades in one’s studies and neglecting everything else.

Anyway, I was doing some spring cleaning and rearranging the books and everything else on the shelves that day when I saw this…

TTK

I have read one only and that was because I happened to see the movie on television and loved it so much. Yes, the book is really great too…and I would say that to date, that is one of my favourites. In the end, I decided to give this one a go.

There are some parts in the book that I particularly like. Look at this extract, for instance:
Try to imagine a life without timekeeping.
You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie.Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays.
Man alone measures time.
Man alone chimes the hour.
And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creatures endures.
A fear of time running out.
(Sphere:2013 Page 8)
Now, don’t you think that’s absolutely thought-provoking…and isn’t that so very true?

The story highlights the contrast between two of the main characters – a teenage girl who was wishing that time would go by more quickly and an old man who was hoping it would go more slowly so he would have more time to spend in this world. I would say that it made me think about myself – then and now and some of the lines that caught my attention and got me thinking include this one:
Sometimes, when you are not getting the love you want, giving makes you think you will.
(Sphere: 2013 Page 117)
…and this one as well:
We all yearn for what we have lost. But sometimes, we forget what we have.
(Sphere: 2013 Page 138)

The book brings to mind this old-time favourite of mine by Glen Campbell:

Some people run, some people crawl
Some people don’t even move at all

Some roads lead forward, some roads lead back
Some roads are bathed in white and some wrapped in black
Some people never get and some never give
some people never die and some never live

Some folks treat me mean, some treat me kind
Most folks just go their way and don’t pay me any mind
Time, oh good good time, where did you go? Time, oh good good time, where did you go?

…and I would say that I quite enjoyed reading it though I very much prefer the other one by the author that I have read …in more ways than one. Personally, that one is still my favourite.

Close the door…

Well, by the time this post gets published, this café would have closed its doors for good or if the proprietor/s has/have plans for it, I would not know of them at this point in time but one thing that I do know for sure would be the fact that the Thai lady chef would have gone back by now.

Anyway, my friend, Jimmy, flew into town on that very day they were going to close and we managed to drop by and enjoy the Thai delights one last time. Needless to say, first things first, and upon arrival very early that morning, he was accorded the traditional Sibu kampua mee welcome…

RTM Cafe's kampua

Later, at around noontime, we proceeded to the café for lunch and we ordered the gaeng som

GS

- the mixed vegetable soup that my friend said was good and we did not get to try that on our previous visits and yes, it was indeed very nice and all of us liked it a lot.

The girl waiting at the tables suggested this phad prik thai dam, talay

PPTD talay

…which was some kind of vegetable dish and we opted for the seafood – it was all right, nice enough but not something that I would be craving for and coming back for more, not that I would be able to do that even if I wanted to.

Other than these two, we ordered the things that we had on our previous visits and liked so much that we would want to have them again…one last time. These included the pineapple fried rice…

PFR

…the bread cakes with prawn paste…

BC with PP

…and of course, our favourite of the lot, the Thai green curry…

TGC

We met somebody there who said that they went because they saw it in my blog (though they found what they had a little bit too spicy) and I also got to know that my friend, ah^kam_koko’, went there for dinner and he loved the tom yum very much. Sighhhhhh!!!! If I had known about this place earlier, I would have gone full swing in promoting it so that it would enjoy brisk business and that would probably make it worthwhile for it to stay open.

Nope, in case anyone is wondering, Jimmy did not bring me any of his delightful cakes as it is not that convenient to carry them inflight but he brought me those very nice scones from Kuching that I had had before and some of the local delights…

From Jimmy

Thank you so much, Jimmy. It sure is nice to see you again and I’m glad you managed to enjoy the very nice Thai lunch with us before they closed their doors…for good.

STOP PRESS:
If anyone is interested, The Kitchen here in Sibu – the people producing the instant Sibu kampua noodles, has come out with the ones with dark soy sauce now…

SKN 1

I got a packet to try and there were three sachets inside…

SKN2

- dark soy sauce, chio cheng (light soy sauce) and lard. I understand that there was a mistake in the packing and there should be one kind of sauce only and probably, the third sachet should have been one with fried shallots.

Well, I did not know that so when I was cooking a packet to try, I threw everything in…

SKN3

…but it was very nice. No, it was not too salty – somehow, the combination seemed to work really well and I enjoyed it very much despite the fact that I have never been a fan of kampua noodle, black – the ones with dark soy sauce.

I did notice, however, that there are now only five packets inside – they used to have six before but I guess those were their promotional packs. Anyway, the serving in each packet is now bigger – while I needed two before so that I would have enough, now I am fine with just one.

Incidentally, for those of you in Kuching, these instant Sibu kampua noodles are now available in the capital at GeorgPeck at Premier 101. Go ahead! Grab a pack and give it a try. You’ll not be disappointed, I’m sure.

What is it…

Actually, I blogged about it a long time ago, way back in 2008…but when I shared a photograph of it on Facebook…

Terbelus

…the other day, so many people said they had never seen it before while some have but they have never tried eating it and they do not know how to go about preparing it so they too do not have the slightest inkling as to what this fruit actually tastes like.

Well, this is called terbulus in Melanau and in Malay, it is known as buah engkalak…and like the dabai (local black olives), it is only found growing in Central Sarawak except that today, due to its popularity and huge demand, they have planted the dabai trees elsewhere in the state so it is no longer exclusive to this part of the state any longer.

The terbulus is green when it is not ripe and it turns into this nice shade of pink when it does and that would be the indication that it is ready to be eaten. For one thing, it is not easy to harvest this very delicate fruit that grows on very big and tall trees like the dabai or the durian. You cannot just take a long bamboo pole and poke it off the tree – that would damage it completely and render it unsuitable for consumption…and you cannot wait till it is ripe as it will be too soft and there is no way that the fruit will not be damaged.

We had a tree in the compound of our old house where I grew up and everytime, my mum would get this guy from the kampung (village) who would climb up the tree and cut off the branches (while the fruits were still green and unripe). Now, he could not just let the branches fall to the ground like that, no way – what he did was he tied a rope to the branch and let it down slowly. Then he and my mum would cut the fruits off the branch with a bit of the stalks still intact like what you can see in the above photograph, handling each and everyone of them with the uttermost care. Those would be kept in the house till they changed colour which would mean that they were ripe and ready to be eaten.

Now to prepare the fruits for eating, you will have to wash/rinse the fruits and remove the stalks and put the fruits in a stainless steel pot or saucepan…

Pot

…and sprinkle some salt over them and closing the pot/saucepan, you will have to shake it to toss the fruits inside to mix them well with the salt…

Salt added

Cover the pot/saucepan and leave it for around 15-30 minutes to let the fruits “cook”. You will have to toss the pot/saucepan at regular intervals, hitting the fruits inside against the sides but you must not do it too hard especially if the fruits are very ripe as the seeds and the white part inside would all come out and you will end up with a miserable mess. As I have said earlier, this fruit is very delicate!

Some people, my mum included, would eat it with sagu (toasted sago pellets) but I am not too fond of that so I would just eat it with rice. If the fruit is not really ripe, it is slightly green inside and not as creamy…

Green

My missus prefers it that way – she thinks it is like avocado but I would like it very ripe when it has turned all white and creamy on the inside…

White

…like ice cream. In the past, I would not eat the skin but I do now – it is edible and they insist that it is very good roughage so it is good for one’s bowel movement.

Well, actually it is good that not many know about the fruit or how to prepare and eat it because demand would be low and that would keep the prices down. They are selling at RM5.00 a kilo at Selangau bazaar and they sell them by the basket at the market here – RM5 per basket. As you can see, the prices are not as outrageous as those of the dabai and the durian which are not really affordable these days and I certainly hope that they will stay that way so that I can still afford to enjoy the fruit whenever it is in season.

Now, if I may digress from the fruit for a while, I just want to share a little bit here about these canned oysters…

CO

…that we use for cooking the Foochow-style tofu soup or what we call tauhu tear. I have yet to do that but hopefully, I will get down to doing it someday so I can blog about how to go about doing that then but in the meantime, I just want to mention that I used it to fry some bihun for breakfast the other morning…

FB1

…but although it was quite nice, it did not come anywhere near the bihun fried using the canned clams in soy sauce

CC in SS

Somehow, it lacked the taste and the fragrance…

FB2

…so now I know – when I need to fry some more, I’d definitely stick to the clams and not use the oysters.

Hey, it’s Monday today…and the long end-of-year school holidays have started! Any plans to go anywhere? Sibu, perhaps?