Not the way it should be…

The other day, I blogged about the cup noodles that I bought. My girl tried one of them, the curry laksa and it turned out to be really very nice but of course, it did not come cheap – RM6.50 a cup.

I took the other one, the Thai tom yum

…to try and like the aforementioned, this one

…also had two sachets inside, not including the one with the noodles…

There was a big one with the sauce and a smaller one with all the dried ingredients, mainly spring onion, carrot and tang chai (preserved vegetables).

Like what I said in the other post on the curry laksa, if I were to cook it, I would add a whole lot of ingredients to bring it up to a whole new level. There were two mussels. a few slices of smoked duck breast, lightly pan-grilled, thinly-sliced strips of omelette and taugeh (bean sprouts), lightly blanched…

…and I served it garnished with a sprinkling of chopped daun sup (Chinese celery) from my garden.

Yes, I was once again impressed by the hor fun-like rice noodle, anytime nicer than bihun (rice vermicelli) but unfortunately, it was not the way it should be – not anything like tom yum as we know it. The taste was not quite like any that I had had before, very very lightly sour, perhaps with a hint of sweetness and it was not spicy at all. At best, I would say it was edible and even then, it was quite a struggle for me to finish the whole bowl.

If it is Thai tom yum that you are looking for, I would strongly suggest the more authentic ones from the made-in-Thailand Mama brand. I’ve had a few packets so far and I would say theirs is as good as it can be. There may be some nice made-in-Malaysia ones but I have never tried those so I can’t say if there are any good ones worth going for or not.

All in one…

Nothing beats cooking a one-pot meal like this kim chi stew…

…for instance.

Some of you may recall my blogpost last month where I mentioned that my missus made her own kim chi

…two big bottles and from the look of it, it is not going to last much longer. They have finished the big bottle and are halfway through the smaller Nescafe one.

They had their own-made bibimbap and kim chi fried rice…

…a few times, kim chi pancakes, japchae and so on or they would just eat it like that with rice.

Well, this time around, they attempted to cook this kim chi stew in a claypot. It certainly was very easy to cook – you just have to dilute some kim chi in water, depending on how concentrated you would like it to be. After that, you bring it to boil before you start throwing in anything you want.

That day, my missus added mushrooms, tofu, mussels, Pacific clams, Chinese cabbage and dunno what else, even some Korean rice cakes which is something like our Chinese/Foochow pek koi

It was impromptu, a spur of the moment kind of thing. Otherwise, if we had prepared some nicer ingredients to throw in – some prawns, udang galah or our freshwater prawns especially, some sotong (squid), clams, fish slices or fish balls, scallops and so on and so forth for a lovely kim chi seafood stew, I bet it would taste really great. I must add, however, that I would prefer tang hoon (glass noodles) or the fine and smooth translucent hor fun/kway teow instead of the Korean rice cake though as I am not quite into its chewy texture, same thing with our local pek koi.

Yes, I did help myself to the stew – I had it with rice and it was actually very nice. The taste of the kim chi was not that strong and the sweetness of the mussels and the Pacific clams plus the flavours of all the added ingredients sure brought the taste to a whole new level. With all the special aforementioned ingredients, I bet it is going to be in a class of its own.

Having said that, I do think that there are other dishes that will definitely turn out awesome with such special ingredients – I would love them in tom yum

…for instance, a lot and I’m wondering if there is such a thing as a seafood poon choy, just seafood…

…or not. That would probably be nice but of course, it all boils down to personal choice and preference. Like I always say, what’s good for the goose may not be good for the gander. To each his own!

G.I. blues…

No, this has got nothing to do with Elvis Presley’s compulsory national service stint in the US Army a long time ago – he even made a movie about it. The G.I. that I am talking about here refers to the glycemic index in foods, bread particularly.

According to this website, low-glycemic foods are slower to raise a person’s blood sugar levels than foods with moderate or high scores on the glycemic index and review studies suggest that a low-glycemic diet may help reduce blood pressure in healthy adults.

Well, in my blogpost not too long ago, somebody named Tom posted a comment and this was what he said: In order to prevent blood sugar spikes, you could consume Low GI breads in Aroma Bakery available every Monday, Wednesday & Saturday – they have two types of Low GI bread, just plain Low GI bread and the other type is with nuts etc (fewer pieces and more expensive).

Yes, I’ve heard of the Low GI bread but it was always sold out – I did not know the days then so Tom’s comment sure helped and I managed to get myself a loaf…

…the other day when I was driving past.

Once again, there was a vacant parking space right in front of the bakery…

…and there was nobody around, other than the boss himself.

This must be the plain type…

…that’s supposedly cheaper but I did notice quite a bit of seeds/grains in it.

The first time I had bread like this was way back in 1980 when I went to Australia and New Zealand for the first time. It had a whole lot of seeds/grain and nuts and they kept telling me it was very healthy. Unfortunately, I took one bite and my first response was, “Makanan kuda!” (food for horses). I never wanted to eat anything like that since until recently when I went into wholemeal bread. Quite a number of bakeries are making those these days, RM4.00 a loaf, which is a bit more expensive than plain sandwich bread, RM3.00 or RM3.20 a loaf. This Low GI one is around double the price – RM6.30 a loaf and if you opt for the one with cranberries and walnuts, that is a whooping RM10.20 a loaf.

I took it home and sat down to give it a try right away with butter and peanut butter…

…and much to my delight, I actually thought it was really very nice. My girl seems to enjoy it too and is having a slice or two, toasted and eaten with cheese, every day. She never touched the plain sandwich nor the wholemeal bread before unless we make something with them, egg sandwiches or French toast perhaps.

Never mind that it is a whole lot more expensive than normal bread – we are not really into bread and do not buy it to eat all that often but in view of the fact that my girl likes it and this is better for health, I certainly would want to buy this from now on if and when it is available. After all, like what I’ve been telling people, what is the use of money these days when there is no place to spend it and nowhere to go and we are stuck at home all the time?

Tom also said: This bakery also has sourdough bread every Tuesday only. Sourdough bread doesn’t cause a rise in blood sugar fast. I think somebody did mention it once that they have sourdough bread here but I’ve never bothered to go and check it out. Well, seeing that I just bought the above on Monday and that would take a few days for us to finish, I wouldn’t want to go the following day to buy the sourdough bread. Perhaps I would do that on Tuesday next week and blog about it. We’ll see!

AROMA BAKERY (2.311151, 111.831515) is located at No. 36 (G/F), Taman Damai along Jalan Dewan Suarah, the second shop in the block on your right as you enter from Jalan Melur, after the Maju Tyre shop.

Surprisingly so…

That day, when my ex-student/lawyer friend, Louis, went out of his way to drive to my house to send me the sio bee and the changs (meat dumplings) that he had bought from a coffee shop here, he told me that among the latter, there was one that was different – they told him it was kacang (nuts).

I was wondering what that actually was. At the non-Chinese stalls, when they tell you there is kacang in the buns or dumplings, chances are that would be or tao sar (red/black bean paste) or ang tao (red beans) and very rarely, it would be sweetened crushed peanuts. Nonetheless, I decided to save it, along with the rest, till the actual day. With the horrendous pandemic dragging on and on like it is never going to end and the so-called full lockdown extended till the end of the month, I had no intention of going out to buy and this way, at least, we would have some to enjoy to preserve our heritage, our tradition, our culture.

In the meantime, my friend, Rose, in Kuching blogged about the ones that she had including some Hakka chang here and also once again, here. Oh? So they’re traditionally Hakka, eh? As far as I know, the old couple running the coffee shop and making the changs and the sio bee are Hainanese/Hailam.

That morning, I took them all out of the freezer to steam and heat them up and when they were ready, I took the kacang one…

…to see what it was like.

Inside, there were lots of kacang

…and when I tried them, I found them to be soft like the stewed/braised ones that they sell in cans or serve at the Chinese restaurants. Nice, very nice!

When I looked inside, much to my surprise, I saw that it had meat…

…as well, not just kacang.

Yes, there was quite a lot of meat…

…and a bit of shitake mushroom too and I must say that I really liked the taste as a whole.

Gee! Should the situation improve and I am able to go out again, I certainly would make my way to that coffee shop to grab some more to enjoy!

SIN KIAW CAFE (2.291287, 111.826611) is located along Ramin Way, the first shop on your right as you turn in from Jalan Kampung Nyabor, right behind the petrol station located at the bend.

Nuggets…

That day, when I was blogging about Marina’s frozen products, my friend, Rose, in Kuching commented that she liked their canned sardines but had never noticed their meatballs anywhere and another Kuching friend, Irene, said that she used to buy the sardines but even though she did see the beef balls somewhere, she never bought them to try.

Rose commented again later saying that she bought the fish nuggets…

…before but she never got to try as her kids ate up all of them. LOL!!! Well, I’m not in the least surprised – my girl loves them too…a lot!

Well, we had a packet in the freezer and we had been frying them to enjoy, a few at a time and last Friday, there were a few of them…

…left and my girl asked the mum to fry all of them to finish off the packet.

I don’t know what fish they use…

…and I did not bother scanning through the fine print to see if they mentioned it at the back of the pack or not.

The nuggets are all coated with breadcrumbs so you can fry them till they all turn a lovely golden brown…

…and yes, I would say they taste great, nice and crumbly/crispy on the outside from the deep fried bread crumbs, with a natural fish texture on the inside…

…and the best part, of course, would be how there is no offensive fishy smell, none at all.

There weren’t that many left that day so we took one of the small or chio/ikan bawal hitam/black pomfret that I bought from my favourite fish & seafood stall to keep in our freezer and my missus cooked it, upon my girl’s request, served with sweet and sour sauce…

Needless to say, we loved it!

I don’t think there is any of those Marina’s frozen products left in our freezer but of course, should we happen to see any in the supermarkets, we certainly would grab some more to stock up and enjoy slowly.

Here it is again…

Despite the pandemic and the lockdown and everything, time does seem to go by so very fast. Well, another year has gone past and here it is again – the Dragon Boat Festival (端午節) or the Double Fifth Festival that falls on the 5th day of the 5th month of the traditional Chinese Lunar Calendar though most will just refer to it as the Zhang Festival or the ciak zhang (eat dumplings) festival. This year, it falls on the 14th of June, today.

I used to wait patiently for it every year, hoping and praying that my good friend/ex-colleague, Richard would make some of his best-in-the-world nyonya ones so I would be able to give some to my mum, bedridden since 2007 till she passed away in 2018. All throughout our growing up years, she would make them every year, something that she learnt from Ah Hiok Ee from whom Richard inherited the skill, for us all to enjoy. Sadly, I never managed to learn it from her. We cannot buy these nyonya ones here in Sibu – we would have to buy from Kuching or the Katong ones in Singapore, or even Malacca.

This year, like before, Richard made his much-coveted dumplings and he dropped by my house to give me not a few but a whole lot…

…for me to enjoy.

In the past, as I have mentioned earlier, I would take some to give to my mum and after she had left us, I still did that – to give to my sister who also enjoyed these as much as I do. I would have done the same this year but the very thoughtful Richard told me when he passed me mine that he had stopped by my sister’s house to pass some to her. Gee!!! Isn’t he so very nice and sweet? One in a million!

I’ve kept them all specially for today except for three that I heated up the very next morning for the three of us in the house…

…to buang gian (appease the craving).

As always. they were perfectly made…

…so symmetrically conical and the meat inside was not minced but painstakingly cut into tiny cubes…

…the way it should be when it comes to nyonya chang and the fragrance of the ketumbar and the pandan plus the beautiful taste as a whole absolutely blew me away!!!

We sure enjoyed them to the max, thank you so so so much, Richard and thank you for remembering me/us every year without fail. We really owe you big time!

My missus is more into the traditional Chinese Hokkien chang that her mum used to make throughout her growing up years and like me, she never got to learn the skill from her. That is why when I come across some nice ones, I would not hesitate to buy them for her and that is not a problem here as those are sold all over town. You only need to know where to go for the good ones…and thanks to my ex-student/lawyer friend, Louis, we still have the ones he gave me that day in the freezer so we can take them out today for my missus to eat in keeping with the heritage, our Chinese tradition, thank you once again, Louis.

To all celebrating, a very Happy Dragon Boat Festival (端午節)! Do enjoy eating your changs!

Grow…

In my blogpost the other day, I mentioned that the ladies in the house have started planting vegetables and flowers while I, on the other hand, have not been all that active lately in our garden and in that post, I did share some photographs of the flowers that they planted and are blossoming.

As for the vegetables, I did say somewhere that I cleared some of the plots that used to be occupied by my Brazilian spinach, seeing how nobody seemed to want to eat it. In one of them, my girl planted some ladies’ fingers…

…and much to her delight, one started flowering and eventually, it started to bear fruit…

We did not see any more flowers after that but it does look like more ladies’ fingers…

…are on the way.

I did plant the vegetable once and it grew really well but there were so many that in the end, we got quite sick of eating it. That was why when the plants had passed their time, I did not bother to replant and other than that, I never wanted to buy any more ladies’ fingers at the market and the shops for a long while.

My girl planted brinjal…

…too but only three of the seeds she planted sprouted and seem to be growing all right. At this point in time, there is no way of telling whether we will get anything out of them or not. I did plant some once but one fine day, the pests came and all that were left were the stalks and the stems.

In the meantime, my missus’ sweet basil is growing really well, flowering…

…like nobody’s business. I must say that they are very pretty…

…very nice to look at, a lovely change from my otherwise quite flowerless garden.

Wings…

We loved the baked honey chicken wings…

here but eventually, the chef left and opened his own place here and of course, we were delighted when he started serving them…

…at his current location and needless to say, we ordered those to enjoy time and time again.

Of course, we have not been there for a while now and chances of our doing so are even less at this point in time as dining in is not allowed. So far, I have not dropped by to buy and take home to eat for two reasons mainly – one, I hardly ever go out and two, my missus can cook some very nice chicken wings…

…her own way.

I do not know what sauces she uses to marinate those wings but they really taste great – maybe she coats them with a bit of honey too sometimes but not so much as hers are usually not so sticky…

Actually, she has other recipes for chicken wings. A long time ago, she used to coat them with a lot of melted cheese and cereal (Nestum or bread crumbs) and put them in the oven to bake and yes, those were mighty popular when we served them at our home dinners.

I did mention in my blogpost not too long ago that these days, with a lot of time on her hands, she may want to try out some new recipes. and the other day, she baked these…

– chicken wings marinated in teriyaki sauce, coated with sesame seeds and yes, they were very nice but I did feel that the yangneyom chicken (양념치킨) or Korean fried chicken

…wings that she cooked the other day were nicer but those were deep fried and these were baked.

Talking about chicken wings, do you have a preference for any particular part? I, for one, will always eat the drumette which actually has a lot more meat but it is more like chicken breast. We usually reserve the flat or wingette, the middle part, that is…

…for my girl to enjoy because of the nicer texture of the meat and we do not bother to eat the tip as there isn’t much meat there, just skin.

That day, when my missus cooked these chicken wings for our meals, she also cooked some chicken rice…

…to go with them. We enjoyed it and that sure saved us the trouble of having to go out and buy some home to eat. With the pandemic dragging on and on, it’s best to just #staysafe #staywell #stayhome.

COLOURFUL CAFE (2.316673, 111.837539) is located in the Renew4U building at the junction of Brooke Drive and Lorong Kwong Ann 8, across the road from the Church of Jesus  Christ of the Latter Day Saints.

Never saw them before…

Two days before the so-called full lockdown here in Sarawak, after they had made the announcement of the date but nothing much else so we did not know exactly how “full” the lockdown would be, my missus was kind of worried as we had not been buying a lot of things to keep in the house. Most of the time, we would just buy from the neighbourhood shops in the next lane from my house and sometimes, my missus might venture a little bit further away to the bigger supermarkets for things not available around here.

That was why she went out that afternoon and came back with boxes and boxes of stuff. Well, it turned out that things would be pretty much the same as usual, no need to panic – we can still go out and buy whatever we want/need but she did say that when she was done and was about to come home, she noticed a lot of people creeping out of the woodworks and heading to the shops too. Great minds think alike, I guess?

Anyway, that day, from one of the boxes, I picked out this…

…to try. I don’t know if this is new or perhaps it has been around but I never bothered to pay much attention to what is on the shelves. Everytime I felt like having cream crackers, I would just grab a pack or two of these…

…my favourite, and go.

As far as Julie’s products were concerned, I love their cheese crackers, plain and their peanut sandwich so I would buy those sometimes – I’m not a fan of their cheese sandwich. Their cheese crackers come in handy when I am making meat balls or bergedil – I would crush a few pieces and add to the mixture together with an egg to serve as a binding agent and sometimes, I would coat them with the crushed cheese crackers in place of bread crumbs. I guess these (cream) crackers may be used for this same purpose.

I took a few pieces of these “butter crackers”…

…to try with butter and peanut butter…

…and also with kaya (coconut jam). I thought it was all right, nothing to get excited about, nothing to make it stand out from the rest.

However, one morning, for want of something to eat, I took out a slice from the airtight container and started eating it just like that, nothing added and I was pleasantly surprised that it was very nice, not as flaky and crispy nor as oily/creamy as Hup Seng’s but good enough and I particularly loved how it was refreshingly light, not sweet, not salty, just right. I suppose when I added peanut butter or kaya with a whole lot of butter, they drowned out the beauty of this very light and pleasant taste of the cracker.

There are still two packs of Julie’s crackers in one of the boxes, their cream crackers and their “golden crackers”. I will certainly give those a try and will blog about them if there is anything that makes them stand a head above the rest, like these butter ones.

KIM TAK CO. is located along Jalan Ruby to the right of that same block of shops as LOUIS BAKERY LW.Pattisserie (2.316411, 111.839847) and Ah Kau Cafe.

Marina…

The other day, my missus cooked some frozen meat balls in ragù sauce and we had them with rice for dinner. It was nice but I was thinking that those would be a lot nicer served with pasta.

That was why the next day seeing how there were still quite a lot left, she boiled some linguine, tossed it well with the sauce and served with the meat balls and a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese…

Yes, it was really very nice and if you are wondering what meat balls those were, they were actually beef balls, Marina Brand

I must say that I quite like their products.

For their beef balls, they use lean meat and they are not so firm or in other words, they do not have much of that QQ fish ball texture so one can still get a bit of the texture of minced meat plus they do not have any offensive smell – many of those frozen meat balls, pork or beef, have a very strong smell, so strong that when I taste that in the ones in my chap chap (mixed) soup at the noodles stall, I would just leave them by the side, uneaten.

These are definitely much nicer than buying the frozen minced beef and making your own owing to the amount of fat. My missus tried that once to cook bakso and there was so much oil in the soup that it was quite inedible and we had to throw it all away.

Their Salisbury beef (beef patties) are also very nice. We had those…

…for our Christmas dinner a long time ago, 2012.

Unfortunately, other than their sardines…

…(my favourite – my missus prefers Ayam) and perhaps, their baked beans in tomato sauce, their products are not that well marketed, not so easily available here.

My missus bought these beef balls at the supermarket round the corner from my house. With the current lockdown, I don’t know when we will drop by there again – not so soon, I guess but when we do and should we see any of their frozen products still available, we would definitely want to grab them to stock up and keep in our freezer to enjoy whenever we feel like it.

DELTA – THE MARKETPLACE (2.311968, 111.847043) is located in the basement of the Delta Mall, Taman Seduan 8, Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai (formerly Jalan Pedada).