She tried…

We had this kadai paneer once at Payung…

Kadai paneer

…in 2019 when the Indian chief, Varun, just came over to Sibu – he has gone back to India since though.

Well, the other day, my girl tried to cook her own…

Mel's kadai paneer

…and it turned out really well and we all enjoyed it very much. I don’t know what went into the dish but I saw her mum getting ready a whole lot of spices and herbs for her to use and I heard curry powder and garam masala being mentioned too.

It looked a whole lot nicer the day before, freshly cooked – this had been reheated for dinner and again for lunch the following day when I took the photograph. It had a more yellowish, curry-like colour and the green peppers were still green. The other ingredients such as tau kua (bean curd cake) slices, potatoes, sliced Bombay onion, of course, did not contribute much to give the dish a bit more colour.

In the meantime, the mum cooked this…

Missus' ayam berlada

…that they call ayam berlada

Ayam berlada at Bandong

…at the Malay food stall at Bandong that I used to frequent a lot except that theirs tended to be more on the dry side, not much gravy to drown the rice with and enjoy.

No, it isn’t curry – no curry powder or curry paste is used in the cooking and there’s kunyit (turmeric) instead. I would say it is more like ayam percik

ayam percik

…or the Indonesian kalio ayam

Indonesian kali ayam

…and yes, we do enjoy this a lot too!

Gosh!!! We have not been out and about for so long that I really do not know how all these places are doing. I guess most of them are still open as I have not heard anything otherwise.

Nothin’ heavy…

I mentioned in an earlier post that we had our Chap Goh Meh dinner a day earlier on the eve as the actual day fell on a Friday and this being the season of Lent, we opted to fast and abstain from meat on that day.

We could have two very small meals in the course of the day and one regular one for dinner but we decided we would not have anything till nightfall. Since we wanted something light, I thought it would be nice to make meat-free popiah/spring rolls (I used a bit of prawn instead for the sweetness and I added some carrot too to give it a bit of colour) and I had the luxury of time – I had whole day to do everything slowly.

I was searching high and low for this PREMERO popiah skin…

PREMERO spring roll pastry

…that we used before and liked a lot but there did not seem to be any all over town. Finally, one fine day, I spotted it at a supermarket here and of course, I grabbed a few packs to keep in the freezer. Who knows, it may not be available again when we need it.

That night, the ladies stayed true to the word “light” and just had one popiah each. Of course, I had more than one – ask no questions and I shall tell no lies. LOL!!! Well, actually, senior citizens, anyone over 60, are exempted from fasting but I just did it anyway, not a problem at all.

Two mornings later, on Sunday, since I was up and about early in the morning, I took out what was left of the filling to make some popiah for breakfast/tea. Normally, we would sit down together to wrap our own but this time was an exception to the rule.

Usually, the chili sauce would go in first but I did not want to wet the skin as a result of which it might tear easily. That was why I had the kacang tumbuk (crushed peanut)…

Kacang tumbuk

…first, followed by the lettuce…

Lettuce

…and then, the chili sauce…

Chili sauce

After that, I added the filling…

Filling

…and the omelette that I fried and sliced very thinly…

Omelette strips

…and lastly, before wrapping it all up, I added some more kacang tumbok

More kacang tumbuk

I love a lot of it in my popiah.

I managed to make 8 only – I ate the last two for my breakfast and left the rest for the ladies and for tea in the course of the day. Well, if you’re wondering what the “end product” looked like, here’s the cross-section…

My popiah, cross-section

…of one of the two that I had.

It sure looked good, don’t you think? Wink! Wink!

Il Mondo…

Il mondo or Le Monde means “The World” in Italian and in French respectively but I do not see the connection as far as this line of biscuits is concerned but of course, this very popular Malaysian brand needs no introduction whatsoever. Incidentally, have you seen the new logo? You can click this link here and watch the Youtube video if you are still unaware of it.

Well, it so happened that I was going to have my afternoon tea that day and I saw two packs of these…

Julie's mango sandwich crackers

…mango-flavoured puff sandwich biscuits on the table. Eyewwwww!!! I am never really fond of anything mango-flavoured though I do enjoy fresh mango sometimes, provided it is sweet and yes, I quite like mango lassi too.

For want of something to eat, I took one and boy, I loved it!!! It was not sweet, the cream filling, and I was not put off by the mango essence because I actually thought it was quite nice and I loved how the crackers were very brittle/crispy, not hard like some plus they were savoury and made the whole biscuit taste kind of salty with a hint of sweetness. As a matter of fact, I liked it so much that I finished both packets at one go.

I asked my missus where she got them from and she told me they were from one of the shops in the next lane near our house. That was why when I was there the other morning, I grabbed a couple of packs…

Le Mond puff sandwich, mango flavoured

…at RM5.20 each to take home to enjoy.

They are individually packed, 10 packets…

Individually packed

…each with two inside so that would work out to 52 sen a packet, 26 sen per cracker. Yes, long gone are the good ol’ days when things were 5 sen or 10 sen each.

I did try the lemon-flavoured ones – maybe, that was where they derived the name Le-mond from – which I thought were quite all right but I prefer the mango. There are other flavours as well including cheese, strawberry and chocolate but none of those tickle my fancy so I did not bother to buy them. Well, you may enjoy those, we’ll never know. To each his own!

Young and beautiful…

I mentioned in my blogpost not too long ago that I planted some sweet potato leaves by simply sticking the stalks/stems from the bundle that I bought into the ground…

Sweet potato leaves

The ones in this plot did not do too well – the leaves started turning yellow like they were withering so I got rid of all of it and right now, I am using that plot to plant the stalks of the cangkok manis that I harvested that day for my fried bihun with the canned clams in soya sauce. I did have some more of those sweet potato leaves on the other side at the end of my vegetable plots and yes, those grew very well and were starting to crawl all over the place. That was why I decided to harvest all of it that day.

I sliced the stems of the leaves into two…

Sweet potato leaves, sliced stalks

…which wasn’t really necessary, actually – I just felt like doing it (this is something you would do with paku or wild jungle fern too) but when you buy these leaves from outside, they are usually too old, hard to chew and doing this would help make it easier to eat and the leaves would be harder too…not like mine, so young and beautiful.

I like these leaves fried with sambal hay bee (udang kering/dried prawns), the same way we cook paku, kangkong, ladies fingers and even long beans but my missus just cooked some kut kut chai (slippery vegetable) that way the day before so I decided to do it differently.

I chopped a whole lot of garlic and got ready some prawns…

Ingredients

…and the leftover seasoning from my Daddy Mee instant noodles, chicken flavour.

I fried the garlic in some oil till golden brown, threw in the prawns followed by the leaves and when it was more or less done, I sprinkled the seasoning all over it, dished out and served…

Sweet potato leaves, cooked & served

Yes, it was very nice and yes, I replanted some of the stalks in the hope that more will grow and perhaps when I harvest it the next time around, I would have enough for two meals!

Theirs…

I enjoy watching The Kumaar Family on Youtube that features an Indian guy, originally from Malaysia, and his American wife and their two kids and members of his wife’s family and they kept insisting again and again that the BEST instant noodles would be Maggi kari (curry) and they even got the other family members to try and give their opinions.

Maggi…

Mi Maggi, kari

…of course, was the first instant noodles to come into the scene a long long time ago or at least, as far as I know. Who doesn’t know their tagline, “Cepat dimasak, sedap dimakan!” (Fast to cook, good to eat!)? Eventually, others came into the picture and there were others that I would prefer along the way. We did not like the texture of Maggi’s noodles and we did not think their seasonings were anything spectacular, nothing really nice.

So why does this Kumaar Family praise it to the skies? Have they improved so much over the years? I remember when we flew over to Wellington, we stopped for a night in Auckland and my friend insisted that I took with me packets of Maggi mee so I would not go hungry…and I loved those so much! Was it because they made better ones overseas or did they taste better in their nice and cool temperate weather? Well, the only way to find out would be to buy a pack to try and that was exactly what I did.

They…

Maggi Mee, curry

…come in packs of 5, selling for RM4.50 here. The Made-in-Sibu Daddy Mee was going for that same price before but to my horror, when I was at the shop the other day, they now have FOUR in a pack selling for RM4.80, RM1.20 a pack, MORE expensive than Maggi! Darn!!!

Two things on the wrapper impressed me – this thing about there being 12 different spices…

12 different spices

…being used in the making and their claim that the wheat…

Wheat from Australia

…they use is from Australia. Well, I don’t know anything about wheat so I wouldn’t know if the one from Australia is superior to any of those from other countries, China, perhaps. Having said that, using 12 different spices in the making did sound promising!

Inside a packet, you will find the noodles and a sachet…

Noodles and seasoning

…with the seasoning that did seem to me a little bigger with a little bit more inside compared to others like the Daddy Mee ones, for instance.

I got down to cooking the noodles in boiling water, added the seasoning – all of it and I also boiled two prawns and  fried an egg to serve with it…

Mi Maggi, kari - served

Oooopsss!!! I broke the egg yolk while transferring it from the saucer into the bowl for the photo shoot.

I couldn’t wait to sit down and try and yes, I loved it! I thought it was really nice, bursting with the flavours of the 12 spices and yes, I find the noodles perfectly all right now, unlike the ones long ago…and on top of all that, it was spicy, definitely not for those who are not into anything a little bit hot! This isn’t the pedas giler line so I cannot imagine how spicy those must be!

I certainly would not mind buying this again but I probably would go for something that is nice too and a little cheaper. At the end of the day, it is what it is, instant noodles – nothing more and nothing less!

Once bitten, twice shy…

This was on the eve of Chap Goh Meh and my missus was busy in the kitchen preparing for our dinner that night.

I decided to hop over to that Colonel Sanders’ outlet at the mall near my house to buy something for a bite to eat for lunch. I knew jolly well what my girl would like – the nuggets and cheesy wedges and I asked for a piece of their fried chicken, hot and spicy, for the mum. However, the guy told me that two would be the minimum so I agreed to take two instead.

Now, one reason why I wanted to drop by there was because there was something I wanted to try. The ad kept popping up on Facebook and it looked very nice, all packed in a box. I went to their website but I did not see that there. They did have this very nice photograph…

KFC nasi atuk

…of the same thing served in a lovely banana leaf-lined basket though but if you think you will have it served to you like that if you eat this there, dream on!!!

Never mind, I ordered that and asked for just one piece of chicken – I did not want two and was given this and that in different boxes and containers so when I got home, I had to put it all together and this was what it looked like (RM14.90)…

Nasi atuk, in reality

…in reality.

First and foremost, I asked for a drumstick but when I opened the box, I was quite put off to see that the guy had given me the upper part of the thigh. Ah well!!! Count my blessings, he could have given me breast instead!

It was rather obvious that they were not very generous with the sambal unlike what we see in the photo and anyway, it was not very nice so it was no big deal that they gave just a spoonful of it. I loved the super spicy one at McD – this one sure paled in comparison.

We can see VERY clearly in the photograph that the set came with one whole hardboiled egg and it did not matter that what I got was some badly messed-up omelette (I refuse to call that scrambled eggs) but there was so very little of it…

KFC nasi atuk, egg

The rice…

KFC nasi atuk, rice

…wasn’t anything to shout about, the lemak-ness was barely noticeable so all things considered, except for the disastrous fried egg and getting it in a cup (they said I could ask for it in a plate if I would be dining in), I must say that the one I had at McD was heaps better.

As for this one, it is sadly a case of once bitten, twice shy. One thing’s for sure, this is one thing I will never ever order again, thank you very much!!!

KFC DELTA MALL (2.311909, 111.846792) is located on the ground floor of the mall located at Taman Seduan 8, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, formerly Jalan Pedada.

In advance…

So how was your Chap Goh Meh dinner last night? Lots of things to eat and enjoy? We had ours in advance, a day earlier because yesterday was a Friday in the season of Lent, a day of fasting and abstinence. As far as I know, even during “normal” times (before the pandemic), many families went out for dinner the night before for the simple reason that all the restaurants would be full on the actual night.

Yes, I did go out but a couple of days earlier, only to the fruit & food sundry/grocer shop round the corner, to buy a whole fish and had it steamed for the dinner…

Steamed fish

As they say, Nien Nien You Yi! We had the ikan buris in the freezer but my missus does not eat that and there were a few slabs of salmon too but I wanted a whole fish. I sure was glad I did as on the morning of the day proper, there was such a HUGE crowd and I sure wouldn’t want to rub shoulders with all those people.

This ikan bawal putih (white pomfret), supposedly more prestigious than the black (that I do prefer) and the golden varieties, was only RM46.00 which I would consider cheap because I was at a fish stall before Chinese New Year where those were going for between RM60.00 and RM80.00 and the lady told me that around Chinese New Year, I would not get anything less than RM100.00!

I bought three lamb shanks for Christmas last year and my missus cooked two. There was one left in the freezer so I asked her to take it out and cook it…

Lamb shank

…and it was really good, very nice and tender.

We also used whatever we could find in the fridge and freezer for this salad platter…

Salad

…to which we added the traditional salad dressing in the family

Add dressing

My girl cooked this lovely pumpkin soup…

Pumpkin soup

…and my sister brought this VERY nice ice cream for dessert!

No, we did not have much this time around, very simple – just these few dishes for the four of us but still, we only managed to finish the fish! Thankfully, there wasn’t all that much left.

Not ready…

They have lifted the MCO here in Sibu and switched to the more relaxed CMCO though I really wonder why as the cases are not decreasing and new clusters are sprouting out here, there and everywhere.

It seems that they are confining the lockdowns to specific areas with a lot of cases instead of the whole Sibu Division, including all the surrounding districts. As a result of this, it is generally business as usual elsewhere but with strict adherence to the stipulated SOPs (hopefully). I, for one, am not ready to venture out freely just yet and even though dining in is now allowed, I would prefer to keep my distance.

The other day, I saw that we had run out of butter in the house so I went to the nearby shops in the next lane to buy and I purposely went very early, at the break of dawn, so there would not be a lot of people around. The first shop that I went to had just opened and the two employees on the early morning shift were mopping the floor.

Unfortunately, they did not have any, out of stock so I went to the other shop in the vicinity. The boss went to the fridge to have a look and informed me that the brick ones (less than RM15.00 each) were all sold out but they did have the ones in tins, Golden Churn, no less – RM26.00 each so I bought that.

Since I was out already, I decided to go and tapao (takeaway) breakfast for everybody. I got my tiffin carrier from the car boot and went to the back of the coffee shop where the chu char stall was and placed my orders through the back door. I did not know whether there were any customers in the coffee shop or not at the time – I did not bother going in through the front as I was not keen on encountering any fellow human-beings around.

I bought this Foochow fried noodles, the “moon” version (RM4.00)…

Ah Kau Foochow fried noodle, moon

…for myself and my missus. Of course by the time I got home, it would have dried up – the noodles would have soaked up all the sauce/gravy but as a matter of fact, we find that some are very much nicer this way, not all but yes, there are places where we prefer buying the noodles home to enjoy. There are also people who say the same about the kampua mee at some places, not as nice when eaten there, much nicer when taken home to eat.

I bought the char pek koi (RM5.00)…

Ah Kau char pek koi

…for my girl – hers was dry so the aforementioned problem was not applicable here. I wanted to pay the guy RM12.00 for the three but he said the total was RM13.00 as char pek koi is RM5.00 a plate.

He started telling me that a packet of pek koi (rice cake) is over RM4.00, so very expensive so that is why he would have to charge more. No, I did not linger to chat with him – I just paid the money and left quickly. I think this COVID-19 has made me kind of anti-social – I used to enjoy small talk, mingling and chatting with people that I meet, ever strangers but not anymore. Sighhh!!!

AH KAU CAFE (2.316346, 111.839861) is located along Jalan Ruby, off Jalan Lim Han Swee, in the same block as Kim Tak Mini Supermarket, to the extreme left.

Roll…

That day, my missus went out to stock up on the food in the house and my girl asked her to buy a packet of those Mission wraps – onion and chives as she was thinking of making some prawn wraps…

Prawn wrap

…for lunch.

The mum helped heat up the wraps piece by piece…

Mission wrap - onion & chives

…in a non-stick pan and we lined each piece with some lettuce and sweet basil…

Lettuce & sweet basil

My girl spent sometime making this coleslaw…

Coleslaw

…that went in next, followed by the prawns…

Prawns

…that we placed on the bed of coleslaw. My missus coated them with breadcrumbs and deep fried them.

Lastly, after adding a sprinkling of parmesan cheese…

Parmesan cheese

…we wrapped it up and ate.

I would think “roll” would be a more appropriate word than “wrap” though. We were so generous with the filling that it was quite impossible to wrap it up so we just rolled it up, leaving the ends open and ate it like that. We sure enjoyed it very much and no, we did not mind it one bit when the filling fell out – we just picked it up and stuffed it back in. LOL!!!

Who would have thought…

That day, after I had bought the shallots at a shop in the vicinity of the Dewan Suarah here, I headed straight back to the car.

Personally, I am not fond of that area, especially the market there as it is always very crowded. Are they different people or the same ones every day? I particularly dislike how they would take their sweet time, stand around chatting with the sellers or their friends, never mind if they are blocking the way…and worse, they do not wait for you to move away first – if there is anything they want, they will cast physical distancing to the wind to just go and grab.

If my friend did not tell me I could get shallots there, I would not have gone there but I sure was glad she did! Why? Well, as I was walking back to the car, I saw these…

Ikan buris

…at a vegetable shop a few doors away, all wrapped up in a plastic bag.

Gosh! Who would have thought that they would be selling them in this part of the woods? I can’t even remember the last time I had any! I used to buy them at the freshwater prawns stalls at the Sibu Central Market (currently closed as there have been a few COVID-19 cases there) which isn’t much better that the one at the Dewan Suarah so of course, I have avoided it like a plague for almost a year now.

These are ikan buris or what we call sai seng in Hokkien, a very sweet, fatty fish, dirt cheap in my younger days but so very expensive now, over RM30 a kilo for the bigger ones. I asked the girl there how much they were selling them for  and Miss Congeniality, she sure wasn’t. Maybe she saw that I was so shabbily dressed (as usual) and she thought I could not afford those…so she gruffly replied, “RM26.00 a kilo!” I calmly told her I would take ALL five of them and it probably was just a little more than a kilo and she asked for RM26.00 something. I paid, grabbed the fish and left!

They were not very big but were quite all right. More often than not, it pained me to see them selling those finger-size ones. They should throw them back into the river to let them grow to a reasonable size. Though they are very rare here (probably because the river here is busier), they tell me there are plenty in the smaller towns like Kanowit and Bintangor (though not cheaper). Unfortunately, inter-district travel is not allowed so driving over to buy is totally out of the question.

My girl loves the fish but she is not fond of the traditional ethnic ways of cooking it, as an ingredient in sayur rebus (boiled vegetables) or masak kunyit (cooked with turmeric). She loved it oven-baked wrapped in kunyit leaves with all the herbs and leaves or just deep-fried, plain.

That day, she chose the latter so of course, that was how we had it…

Ikan buris, deep fried

…on our no-meat Friday last week – three of the five and boy, we sure did enjoy it to the max! They were a bit over-fried but that was perfectly all right as it was extra crispy, so crispy that we could eat the bones!

In the meantime, on another day last week, my missus took out her phak lor ark (braised/stewed five spice duck)…

Phak lor ark

…that she cooked for Chinese New Year but we did not take it out for the reunion dinner on the eve because my sister brought along the one from this chicken rice place in town. Actually I told her to save it for Chap Goh Meh but she said that would be too long and insisted on taking it out. She does not eat duck but my girl and I sure enjoyed it to the max and yes, I loved those stewed eggs!

Talking about Chap Goh Meh, it is just two days away and we have not decided what we would want to do for our dinner that night. What have you all got planned?