Flowers bloom…

The durian trees are flowering…again! We have not come to the end of the current season and the flowers are making their appearance at the markets here already. It sure looks like there will be a bountiful harvest around the end of the year or early next year.

Many may love the fruit to bits, willing to fork out a fortune for them, but they may not have seen the trees, much less the flowers, I’m sure. I am not really a fan of the fruit and will not go out and buy to eat, RM50.00 for 3 at the Selangau market the other day (not too sure what the current prices here in Sibu are), but I will do that when it comes to the flowers…

Durian flowers

My sister bought two big bags full at RM1.00 each at the Dewan Suarah (Civic Centre) market the other morning and that was extremely cheap. Usually, we would have to fork out at least RM2 for that amount and a lot more if they have had the anthers removed.

Yes, that is the chore one would have to endure before cooking and enjoying the flowers, removing the anthers…

Anthers

– those little things at the end that resemble tiny cauliflowers and not only is it tedious and time-consuming, the flowers, your hands and everything must be dry or they would turn sticky and you might as well throw it all away. That is why if it rains the night before, there is no point at all collecting the flowers as there will be that gooey glue-like stuff all over the flowers that would render them unsuitable for consumption. Some will remove them for you and sell but of course, that comes at a price and not a small one at that.

It took me less than an hour to remove the anthers…

Anthers removed

…of the flowers in one bag – the petals are edible too but since there were a lot of the remaining stamen or filament, I did not bother to keep much of those as one would have to unroll them one by one to make sure there are no anthers lurking inside as that would render the dish kind of starchy and not nice at all.

There are different ways to cook them. I know many cook some kind of curry with it and an aunt of mine once used them to make the nyonya-style acar (pickle) but usually, we would just fry them with sambal udang kering (dried prawns) the same way we fry kangkong (water spinach) but my missus went a step further and added a bit of mother tumeric (kunyit) and this was what we ended up with from one bag…

Fried durian flowers 1

…which we gave to my mum to enjoy.

We fried the other bag with lots of pounded chili added…

Fried durian flowers 2

…for ourselves and needless to say, we enjoyed it a lot!

Another fruit that is in season right now is the terbulus or buah engkala

Terbelua aka engkala

…in our local Malay. I managed to buy a basketful for RM4.00 at the Selangau market that day, at least RM5.00 at the Sibu market, and yes, they were really very very good – so sweet and creamy…and yes, we do eat the skin as well – very good roughage, if you get what I mean. Hehehehehe!!!! For the uninitiated who have neither heard or read of nor seen the fruit before, you can click this link to see my blogpost about it sometime ago.

Speaking of the Selangau market, I managed to get this…

Wild boar soup 1

…from there too the other day. The ones here are different from those in the peninsula, it seems – those there are only good for cooking curry, they tell me and the difference lies in their diet. If I can get hold of a good one here, I would cook soup with it

Wild boar soup 2

…and enjoy the delightful fragrance and taste. Yes, we have good ones and not so good ones depending on what they have been eating and the best ones would be during the fruit season – no price for guessing what they had been feasting on…and also during the engkabang (illpenut) season when they would be very fat and very very nice.

I guess some/many of you are not familiar with all these things but never mind. You saw it first right here at https://suituapui.wordpress.com! LOL!!!

Different colours…

The ikan bawal (pomfret) or what we call ikan duai locally is one of the more popular fish around here but the white ones are held in much higher esteem than the black ones. For this reason, it is often featured as one of the dishes in a Chinese banquet here, be it for a wedding or for other auspicious occasions.

Usually, the pek chio, as it is called in Hokkien, is steamed…

Steamed pek chio

…and for that purpose, it has to be very fresh so one would be able to enjoy the sweet, smooth and succulent meat and the size of the fish would be a fair indication of the price of the “table”, that is the cost of the whole dinner. There have been times when it is fried and served with a pale/colourless sweet and sour gravy (minus the tomato sauce) with lots of chopped garlic, chili, spring onions and what not…and the general feeling is that the fish is not fresh and served this way, it would not be noticed. I actually like it very much when they do it like that and needless to say, it is anytime better than when the fish is not fresh and is kind of bland, not nice and sweet at all and they just go ahead and steam it and serve.

You will never find the black pomfret featured at such dinners but you may see it served at the smaller restaurants, food shops and stalls for the simple reason that it is cheaper and thus, does not have the snob appeal that its white counterpart enjoys. Usually, it is deep-fried and served…

Fried or chio

…but at most Chinese places, it is more commonly served as a sweet and sour fish dish…

Sweet and sour or chio

These days, however, even these or chio, the Hokkien name for it, is no longer as cheap as it used to be.

I bought a big one the other day and the seller told me to steam it. Steam the or chio? That is not the usual practice as the black pomfret has a stronger smell and is not all that suitable for steaming but the seller insisted that it would be very very nice as the one he was selling me was really very fresh. Well, in the end, I didn’t as I wanted to try this instant paste that I received recently from my cousin in KK, Sabah

Chef Ricky pes asam nyonya

– the pes asam nyonya and I added some brinjal and the sour variety – the terung Dayak to it…

Asam black pomfret

…and it turned out really great!

Even though I did not steam it as the seller said I should, we really enjoyed it as the fish was indeed as he said, very fresh – so sweet and nice…

Fresh fish

…though I cannot remember how much I paid for it now. I bought this big one and a very big ikan tengirri/bay ka (mackerel) and at least a dozen or more of these kilat (silvery/shiny) that can either be steamed or fried…

Kilat

I always consider this one to be a smaller, more affordable version of the white pomfret but these were very big – a whole lot bigger than the palm of my hand (some are very small) and altogether, I think I paid around RM90…but that is all right as I had enough fish to last me way over a week – in fact, I still have quite a lot of the tenggiri in the freezer and especially when the fish is really fresh and nice, I do think it is worth it.

The same thing…

I don’t know if this…

KOKA instant mi goreng

…was on special offer but it was only RM7.00 something for a pack of 5 and that works out to around RM1.50 per packet…unlike this other brand that, if I am not mistaken, at this point in time (obviously owing to our weakening ringgit) would set you back by that same amount of money for just ONE packet and frankly, behind all that hype about it being the best and what not, I really do not think it is worth it, not at all. At the end of the day, it is what it is – instant noodles.

This one is also from the island republic…

Made in Singapore

…south of the mainland and it comes in two flavours, this one and black pepper and as I am not a fan of the latter, I did not bother buying that.

There is one sachet inside…

Seasonings

…with two parts, one with the seasoning oil and the other, the seasoning powder.

I cooked a packet to try…

Koka instant mi goreng & fried egg

…served garnished with some fried shallots and chopped spring onions and one fried egg and yes, it is very nice, more or less the same, I think, as that Indonesian one, never mind whether it is the one sold locally or the one specially made for export to Brunei. I did try another Indonesian brand, the Mee Sedaap, extra pedas (spicy) and it was not bad but no, it did not win me over but of course, comparatively, that particular brand is a little bit cheaper. Even our own made-in-Sibu brand , their mi goreng (fried noodles), is pretty much the same too, I would say, and at more than half the price of the aforementioned Singapore brand, it sure makes a lot more sense to buy our own or one of the Indonesian versions instead.

As for the egg, I always insist on frying it the old fashioned way…

My fried egg 1

…in a wok, with the nice and fragrant golden fringe and the yolk still soft and runny…

My fried egg 2

…unlike some that I had had the displeasure of being served outside here…or here, for instance. No, I definitely would not say it is all the same and I do think you can’t do it in a modern pan, non-stick usually, or worse, in a ring on a hot plate. At times, the new ways are not always better, I must say. What about you? Do you, unlike me, think they are all the same?

In the meantime, my niece in Singapore went on a trip to Bandung, Indonesia…

Sarimi mi goreng

…and she bought this and gave us a packet to try. Somebody commented somewhere either on Facebook or on one of my earlier posts that I should go and try this brand. I think it is available somewhere here as I have seen the carton box in the house but I never did go and look for it to check it out but it sure looks like it is produced by the one and the same company there…

Indofood

There are many sachets inside…

Sarimi sachets

…and as for the noodles…

Sarimi mi goreng, cooked

…if you are expecting something that tastes like sate ayam (chicken satay), I did not think that it tasted quite the same. I was expecting something like peanut sauce but there was none or if what they mean is the taste of the grilled chicken on skewers, no, I did not taste anything like that either. I did not know what those white little round balls that came in the “solid ingredients” sachet, were either – they were crunchy like keropok (crackers) but were kind of bland and did not have much taste. Generally, I would say it was, at best, all right and rather strong on the msg, leaving a lingering unpleasant taste in the mouth for a long while after I had finished eating so all things considered, I would still prefer the regular mi goreng that I am more accustomed to.

Moving away from the topic of noodles and egg, it’s a special day for our country today…

I do think this year’s song is very nice and I quite like the video clip as well though I wonder why they are singing about Kinabalu (Sabah) while showing images of the Sarawak ethnic Dayaks and no, they are not the same…and why are they singing about “Rejang yang membiru” (the blue Rejang River) when the river is anything but blue?…

Rejang River
*Archive photo*

Sehati sejiwa indeed, with all of us here by our majestic river so YELLOW! For all it’s worth, Happy National Day to all. May we be blessed with better days ahead…

Somethin’ else…

My girl says she has had enough of instant noodles and despite the convenience, she is not keen on stocking up on those to cook and eat in her school…and she is not into fried rice either so cooking that for her to take all the way there to heat up and eat is also out of the question. I guess all those years at the teacher-training institute and the last two years at her school, away from home, have taken its toll on her so she would very much prefer somethin’ else.

She does not mind bihun as much so should I happen to fry any, she may want to tapao some and eat that at a later date at her teachers’ quarters. Unfortunately, as far as those instant ones go, they are mostly noodles, not bihun – even the Kuching-produced Sarawak laksa has noodles in each packet even though at the shops, it is always bihun. I wonder why they do that.

Well, it so happened that the other day, I saw these…

Mamee bihun tom yam 1

…at the shop round the corner from my house, with two different flavours – chicken and tom yam, selling at RM4.90 for a pack of 5 so that would work out to less than a ringgit per packet.

I tried the chicken first but no, I did not like it. It was extremely peppery and rather strong on the taste of msg – something like the Tung-i brand that was very popular at one time but I don’t seem to see it anywhere in town anymore. I don’t think I would buy that for my girl to bring to her school but when I tried the tom yam

Mamee bihun tom yam 2

…I thought it tasted very good.

There are two sachets in every packet…

Mamee bihun tom yam 3

– one, the seasoning and the other, the oil and tom yam paste. Maybe the fact that I used prawn stock (from boiling the heads and shell of some prawns that I bought a while ago) did help in a bit towards enhancing the taste, and other than the sliced omelette, I also added a bit of fried shallots and chopped spring onions.

It tasted like tom yam, a milder version of the usual and just slightly sourish but I did think it was good enough except that it was not spicy at all, not even a little bit! That was why when I cooked that again, I added some of my own cili padi

With cili padi

…and only then was it, in my opinion, just right.

This means that now we have a choice between this one and the one that I have tried previously, also from the same company in their “Gold Recipe” series, their “bihun kari seribu rasa that I also liked a lot. I think that one is only slightly more expensive, RM5 something for a pack of 5 so it is anytime better than buying any of the imported brands which are really not affordable at all at this point in time…and anyway, I don’t think they have bihun or at least, I have not seen any at the shops and supermarkets.

So fast…

I have blogged about this stall at this coffee shop

Mei Le roast stuff stall

…many times already like here, for instance.

Well, last Sunday, after the morning service (we could not go for the sunset service the previous night as we went for my sister-in-law’s birthday dinner), my girl said that she would not mind stopping by there for brunch and a little while after that, we would have to be on our way to send her back to her school.

For one thing, other than the fact that their roast stuff is pretty good, the service is very prompt and so very fast. I guess those are the very reasons why this stall is really popular so the place can get rather crowded and to cope with it, they would cut the meat before hand and place it and the cucumber slices in plates…

Covered

…ready to be brought to your table instantly. I must say that I really appreciate how they keep it all in that plastic case like that to ensure that it is clean and safe for consumption.

I also like how they always cut the roast duck into very thin slices…

Mei Le roast duck

…as the bird can be quite tough especially if you go for the drumstick, probably the result of all that exercise, swimming in the water. I like their roast duck very much and my girl loves the sauce – I do think it is very nice too though I am not all that sure as to what that is but it comes across like sour plum with a hint of lime or lemon to me.

I also ordered this mixed platter to share…

Mei Le mixed platter

– their siew yoke (roast pork) and roast chicken. No, I did not want their char siew (barbecued pork) nor their barbecued pork ribs as my girl does not seem all that fond of those and it was also for this same reason that I opted not to have something new that they have – char siew roast chicken but I could not resist their lor nui ( stewed eggs)…

Mei Le stewed eggs

…so I asked for two to share.

All the aforementioned, together with 3 plates of rice…

Mei Le rice

…and their quite nice complimentary soup, came up to only RM17.00, less than RM6.00 per person. I am sure everyone will agree that it is very cheap, around USD4.00 only for 3 – a truly delightful lunch for just over USD1.00 per person.

We’ve been here many times before and if they maintain their standard, tastewise, and their fast service, you can bet we will keep coming back for more. For one thing, my house is just round the corner, not too far away, so it is very convenient for us to drop by…anytime.

Another time…

I was here not too long ago and in fact, we were there for my brother-in-law’s birthday some time ago. Last week, we dropped by another time and this round, it was for my sister-in-law’s birthday and yes, her daughter was home from Singapore to celebrate the special occasion with her mum and of course, it had to be a cake from Marcus…

Marcus birthday cake

– her favourite!

Yes, there was my brother-in-law’s favourite too, the sweet and sour fish…

Tung Seng Sweet and sour fish

…and this dish of “Vietnamese pork”…

Tung Seng Vietnamese pork

…and this three-in-one…

Tung Seng Three-in-one

– their omelette with salted and century eggs added. The fish was all right, the usual and the pork tasted o.k. too – I did not know what was Vietnamese about it but yes, it did have a certain taste of its own but only slightly and as for the omelette, that was fine too though I was wishing they had added more century egg in it. We also had a fried vegetable dish – what they call the Sabah yeu chai.

My niece and her dad ordered this tong sui dessert…

Tung Seng Ngor bee th'ng

– their “today’s special” and it was huge!!! I did try a little bit and I absolutely loved it! We call it gor bee th’ng (5 flavours soup) or ngor bee th’ng and there was one stall, yes, just one (and it was the one and only tong sui dessert in town at the time and maybe even now), a long long time ago and everyone would crowd there just for this but everything in that area was demolished for the construction of the Sibu Central Market and I do not know if they are still in the business or not. I am not sure what the name means – if it is actually a reference to the number of flavours, I think there were five then in the bowl – there were barley, thin strips of dried winter-melon and persimmon, a bit of one red date and agar-agar (jelly, and it’s always green) but there seemed to be a lot more in this one! I must go back there again soon just for this, all to myself. Hehehehehe!!!!

Another thing that I certainly would want to go back there for would be their coconut prawns…

Tung Seng Coconut prawns

Oooo…it was so good and inside, there were prawns together with the soft and sweet young coconut flesh and I so loved the thick, a bit spicy and santan-rich gravy. That was really good! My niece picked up the tab for the dinner and I asked her how much this was and she said RM38.00.

Let’s see when I can drop by this place again for this and also the dessert…as well as their nice pork with cincaluk dip. Anybody keen on coming along as well?

Still around…

There was talk that the owners of this place…

Zen Japanese fusion, Sibu

…would like to let it go as they had bitten off more than they could chew with their many cafes and lounges, 5 in Sibu and 2 in Kuching and I hear they are eyeing the market in China too, very ambitious guys! However, it seems they are still around so my guess is that there are no takers…and no doubt at this point in time with the economy is such a bad shape and the currency at an all-time low, it would not be all that easy to find someone ready to fork out the dough.

My girl is especially fond of Japanese cuisine so while this place is still open for business, I guess it would be a good idea to drop by a little bit more often as we are not really fond of the others here like this one…or this one, for instance.

Apart from salmon, my girl is very much into unagi (eel) so I ordered their unagi kabayaki, small (RM25.90)…

Zen Unagi Kabayaki

…for her and nothing makes me happier than seeing her enjoy herself especially after a dreary week at her school.

I also ordered their teriyaki chicken (RM12.90)…

Zen terayaki chicken

…to share and that came with a bowl of plain white rice but we did order their garlic rice (RM8.90)…

Zen garlic rice

…to eat with everything else as well.

We loved their pumpkin korokke but this time around, we had the potato (RM5.90)…

Potato korokke

…and it was really very good too.

Other than the aforementioned, my girl asked for the kizami unagi sushi (RM4.90)…

Zen kizami unagi sushi

…and I added their ebi tempura maki (RM8.90)…

Zen ebi tempura maki

…to that.

All the above plus the Japanese green tea for the three of us came up to RM79.40,exclusive of GST and no, I would not say it was not all that expensive but considering that we enjoyed all that we had in the nice, comfortable and classier environment with the friendly and efficient service and the very soft and soothing jazz music playing the background, I would say it was worth it and would surely want to drop by again…before they call it a day.