Together we are one…

In my younger days, whenever the family gathered at my grandma’s kampung (village) house for linut (a glue-like delicacy made from sago starch), there would be no less than three kinds of sambal (dip). One would be watery…made from belacan (dried fermented prawn paste), ginger, chillies and asam paya and I don’t know what else, diluted with the super-delicious wild boar soup. This one was for the linut…and then there would be the usual sambal belacan which would go with the blanched kangkong (water spinach) and thirdly, there was a sambal hay bee (dried prawn dip) for the cucumber.

The other day, I found three ladies’ fingers in the fridge, not enough for a dish on its own…and a small cucumber. There was no way of cooking the two together, not that I know of, as they were not exactly compatible…but after pondering upon it for a while, I decided to make some sambal hay bee. It is quite easy really – you just pound some chillies (4-5) and squeeze calamansi lime (5-6) into it and add a tablespoon of sugar to balance the sour taste of the lime…and finally, you mix that thoroughly with the hay bee (dried prawns), pre-soaked to soften and pounded. This is what you will get in the end…

STP's sambal udang kering

I think I had something like this once but I mixed the sambal with the cucumber slices which I was not able to do this time as I had the ladies fingers to consider. So what I did was – I boiled the ladies fingers till slightly soft and cut them into bite-size lengths and I cut the cucumber into chunks…and served everything as ulam (the traditional Malaysian way of eating raw and boiled/blanched vegetables, something like salad in a way)…

STP's ulam sambal udang kering

Yum! Yum! Very nice! You can give it a try.

This is a truly authentic Malaysian cuisine and it blends everything in superbly well together to make something absolutely wonderful, something that’s simply out of this world. A very Happy National Day to one and all. Together, we are one…

Black or white…

Somebody told me once that there is a difference between char kway teow (fried flat rice noodles) in KL and the ones in Penang. Those in KL are blacker/darker (khak or) while Penang char kway teow is lighter/whiter (khak pek). There is probably some truth in this as I had this plate of char kway teow the other day…

Sambal petai fried kway teow 1

…and I found out that the guy was from Selangor.

I think I did mention in an earlier post that there was a new stall at this place, so I decided to drop by and try one of the many items he had on his menu.

This was supposed to be sambal petai fried noodles…but the man said that it would be nicer with kway teow, so I agreed to the switch.

It was definitely very dark but there was hardly any sambal taste at all and I think there were two petai seeds, split into halves…

Sambal petai fried kway teow 2

Thankfully, it tasted pretty good with the clams, prawns and all – something like KL Hokkien mee which incidentally was on the menu too. Maybe I should try that next time…

I gotcha…

Something came in the mail the other day…

…and when I looked at the postmark, I saw that it came from Selangor.

From Ling in De House 1

Yes! The bookmark that Mommy Ling of Ling in De House said she was going to send me had finally arrived…

From Ling in De House 2

Thanks a lot, my blogger-friend. It is indeed a really sweet gesture on your part. In the words of Heda Bejar:
The fragrance always remains in the hand that gives the rose.

I hope to send something back in return one of these days but in the meantime, here’s a song specially for you and your family, especially the children…

Have a beautiful Sunday and the same to everybody out there too…

Why does it hurt so bad (2)…

It’s the fasting month of Ramadhan and I see a lot of bloggers posting on the buka puasa buffets here, there and everywhere. I used to love those…a lot! And the best thing was that before I retired, I used to have week-long meetings that coincided with the puasa (fasting) month and our packages would be inclusive of those dinners EVERY NIGHT in the respective hotels in the evenings.

However, at one of those dinners, after feasting on all the lamb and the beef and what not, I chanced upon a very nice and friendly chef who was frying some kind of clams and they looked so very delicious. When he saw me drooling, he asked me if I wanted some…and of course, I did. He used the HUGE scoop and dumped a whole lot onto my plate. As I was walking away, he called out to me. I walked back to see what the matter was and he dumped another scoop on my plate. “That’s to save you the trouble of having to come back for more. It’s very nice!” he grinned…

That night, I woke up at around 2.00 a.m. with this unbearable pain in my knees and I found that I could not bend them at all. I could not even go to the toilet as I could not bend my knees to sit on the toilet bowl. I did not know what it was at that point in time as it was my first ever gout attack.

On two other occasions, I did not eat anything at all…but when I thought back about it, I realised that each time. I had a mug of beer the night before. Since then, I had refused to touch the stuff.

So far, everything has been fine. For one thing, you may take some prescribed medication to lower your uric acid level but once you have had an attack, there is nothing you can do…other than to take pain killers till it is all over. I find drinking a lot of water and urinating frequently helps.

Thankfully, I am still able to eat what I want to eat though I would have to be a bit careful. Even the simplest things may trigger an attack sometimes. On one occasion, I had prawn noodles – huge udang galah (freshwater prawns) and the following day, I was feeling a bit of discomfort. That day, I had this…

STP's fried bean sprouts with salted fish 1

…and that was it! I had another attack!

Yes, the high protein content of taugeh (bean sprouts) fried with ikan bilis (dried anchovies) or salted fish may just be that last straw to break the camel’s back.

STP's fried bean sprouts with salted fish 2

So, one thing’s for sure – no more buka puasa buffets for me…and from what I gather, they are definitely not cheap…ranging from around RM60 to RM100 per head. Sure, they have a world of choices to choose from but how much can one person eat? And in my case, if there is the chance that it may trigger off another gout attack, no…thank you very much!

Do it myself…

I have been cooking my own version of meat, usually beef, with satay/sate sauce for a long long time now, probably since the late 70s or 80s, ever since we discovered wee’s sate sauce…

wee's sate sauce

This is actually the peanut sauce for people to dip their satay in while eating those pieces of meat on skewers barbecued over a charcoal fire. At one time, it was not available in the shops, so I had to use another brand – Ayam, which tasted good but the colour was kind of yellowish like it had a lot of kunyit (tumeric) in it. My mum said I could add a bit of tomato sauce to give it the desired reddish colour but I never tried that.

Whenever my missus cooked this same thing, she would be pounding/blending a whole lot of extra onions, chillies and whatever ingredients to make it taste nicer but being basically lazy, I would do no such thing.

Well, the other day, I decided to cook the dish for dinner…

STP's satay prok 1

I added one Bombay onion – chopped till really fine, and two stalks of serai (lemon grass) crushed at the ends. After cutting the meat into thin slices – I used pork as there was no beef in the freezer and I did not feel like using chicken, I mixed the sate sauce with it to marinate it. To cook it, I fried the chopped onions in a little bit of oil till brown before  I added the serai…and after a while, the meat. I kept stirring till the meat was cooked and then I added half a cup of water to let the meat simmer in the gravy for a while. Once the gravy had thickened, the dish was ready to be served…

STP's satay pork 2

So, there you have it – my sate pork…with no salt or msg added. It actually tastes very nice – nice enough to serve on special occasions like birthday, Christmas or Chinese New Year dinners…but personally, I prefer beef.

Come, tell me what you think – if you see this in the menu at a restaurant, do you think you would want to order it?

That was then, this is now…

“Have you got your summons?”

“Yes, I have. Sigh! Now I will have to fork out the money to pay the fine!”

LOL!!! That’s simply a figure of speech – when people receive wedding invitations from family or friends.

In the past, the invitation cards were simple. In fact, some restaurants would even include them in their dinner package but of course, if you wanted something nicer, you would have to go and look for your own and get them printed yourself. Some printing presses would have some samples for you to choose, so you could just pick the one you liked.

This was the one I had for my wedding…

Wedding invitation - then

…but that was then.

These days, they have such beautiful wedding invitation cards, some even with their photos inside or in front like this one…

Wedding invitation - now 1

…or this one, which also has a nice golden ribbon around it.

Wedding invitation - now 2

Well, times have changed. Don’t you think that the invitation cards are so much nicer now? They probably would have to spend a lot more on the cards alone.

Whatever it is, when it comes to weddings, I guess this is the most important thing…

Wedding invitation - now 3

What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Mark 10:9)

Bones…

Bak kut teh literally means meat bone tea but in actual fact, it is herbal pork/pork bones soup. I think the tea in the name actually comes from the Chinese tea that I often see people drinking when eating bak kut teh, probably to neutralise all that fat in the meat.

It was sometime in the mid-90s when my family went to Penang on a package tour that they took us to this place where they sold tambun biscuits and other Penang delicacies and there was a section where they were letting people sample their bak kut teh. If I’m not mistaken, that was the first time my daughter tasted that and she liked it a lot, so we bought a packet or two of the mixed herbal spices home. I cannot remember the name of the place nor where it was located anymore (probably somewhere in Pulau Tikus) and neither could I remember the brand of the spices.

So I can’t say for sure whether it was CKC that we went to in Penang then…

CKC bak kut teh spices 1

…but somebody mentioned not too long ago that this is her favourite brand when it comes to homecooked bak kut teh.

Well, CKC stands for Cheong Kim Chuan…

CKC bak kut teh spices 2

…and the address given is on “the steps leading to Kek Lok Si”, so I guess it must be in the vicinity of that temple in Ayer Itam. Gosh! They even have their own website, it seems!

CKC bak kut teh spices 3

My missus bought a box of the spices when she was in KL not too long ago…and last Satuday, she finally got down to cooking it…

Mrs STP's bak kut teh 1

It was nice, a bit sweet probably due to the presence of dried red dates and wolfberries in it…but a bit light, I think, on the herbal taste…

Mrs STP's bak kut teh 2

…and yes! Hold your horses! Those are indeed thick slabs of fat that you see! And that was cooked by the same person who would strip a poor chicken completely of all its skin, declaring that it is absolutely unhealthy and must never ever be consumed. Tsk! Tsk! She insists that the meat from the more fatty areas are nicer to eat – not so “siap“…and in her opinion, tastier. Hmmmm…I really wonder if that same description applies to me too? Hehehehehehe!!!!