From this moment on (1)…

My missus and I flew to Kuching on Thursday last week for my cousin, Kpg Nangka Boy’s wedding on Saturday. It was certainly a grand event with next-of-kin from all over Sarawak – Sibu, Bintulu and Miri, Sabah…and even as far as Melbourne and Brisbane in Australia…

The clan at KNB's wedding
*Felixon‘s photo taken from his Facebook photo album

We were at his mother’s house first thing in the morning as he and his bride-to-be had to go and pay their respects to his late father, my uncle. The bridal limousine arrived…

The bridal limo

…and the ceremony was carried out promptly.

It must have been a very auspicious day as there were many couples tying the knot on that date, so the two and everybody else had to sit around and chat and wait…

The bride and groom

…for the turn in the queue to go to the St. Joseph’s Cathedral for the wedding service.

One of the two best-men was Jeremy, my blogger-friend whom I had not seen for so many years – ever since he went to Sibu once a long time ago. It certainly was so nice to bump into an old acquaintance again after all this while and we had a photo taken together. He’s the one standing on the far left…

Me and my cousins and friends

Also in the photo is to my left, my ex-student, Louis J…and the outstanding-looking guy next is my very handsome and very generous cousin from Kota Kinabalu, Kpenyu (…and hopefully, after reading this, he would send me more giant prawns! Muahahahaha!!!)…and after him, in a checked shirt, is Alexius, another ex-student of mine who was in my 1993 debate team together with TheOtherCousin, standing far right.

Soon, it was time to proceed to the cathedral for the service. Here, you can see the bride’s father walking down the aisle with his daughter and handing her over to the groom…

The father of the bride

The service went on smoothly, the vows and wedding rings were exchanged and the newly-weds walked out of the church as man and wife…

Man and wife

Then we had to go to their brand new house for the tea ceremony…..but that will be in another post. Stay tuned!

Hey Paula…

Nope, this isn’t Paul the Octopus – that soothsayer that took the world by storm during the recent World Cup. This is Paula the Sotong! LOL!!!

People keep grumbling about the bad economy and yet, over here in Sibu, there are more and more shophouses sprouting up everywhere like mushrooms after the rain. I dropped by one along the road to Teku, opposite the SIB and the St Teresa’s Catholic churches. I can’t remember the name now but it was pretty crowded that morning. They have opened another one of those nicer-looking places (and usually more expensive) right next door – Kowloon Cafe, it is called.

Anyway, back to this place that I went, I had the mee sotong (RM4.00)…

Mee sotong 1

…from the stall at the back that does not seem to serve pork but I do not think they are Malays/Muslims as I went on Hari Raya morning and it was business as usual.

It was quite nice…but I would think that RM4.00 is a bit too steep for just those few bits of sotong (squid)…

Mee sotong 2

I would much rather go to that lady at Sg Antu…who sells her mee goreng at only RM3.50 with egg and masak hitam beef and it tastes a lot nicer. I honestly feel that if people want to sell their stuff at a higher prices, they should at least ensure that the quality of what they sell is a lot better than others that are cheaper.

Well, there are other stalls at that coffee shop. The rojak mamak did not look very enticing…and a lady at the next table had the Sarawak laksa and I did not smell a thing. With the messy construction going on right now along that road (part of the on-going flood mitigation plan), I don’t think I’ll be going back there very soon…

Ain’t nothing like the real thing (3)…

I went back to the 3:16 Kopitiam the other day to try the Sarawak laksa. There used to be a Malay stall in the front portion of the coffee shop but they have moved some place else. I was told by Roy of the Asian Flavours stall that the new guy is one of the chefs from the Ark and he’s selling Sarawak laksa at the stall in the morning…

3:16 Sarawak laksa stall

I had expected an older guy…and perhaps, a Thai, considering that the Ark claims to serve authentic Thai cuisine. It turned out to be a young, Iban boy…but never mind, I ordered what I wanted and sat down to wait. The sambal belacan came with the cut calamansi lime…

3:16 Sarawak laksa - sambal belacan

That looked pretty good. They seemed to be quite generous with it as in other places, they would give just a teeny weeny bit that would hardly be enough.

When the Sarawak laksa was served, to say that I was disappointed would be an understatement…

3:16 Sarawak laksa 1

It did not look great and it did not taste great either…

3:16 Sarawak laksa 2

Well, to be fair, it was all right…except that it would not make it into the list of the best that we have here in Sibu, much less in Kuching. It was something like those things that one would find in the franchise shops or fancy restaurants – nice…but simple cannot be compared with the real thing.

It seems that he also sells other stuff besides Sarawak laksa – some Vietnamese noodles and…American fish noodles, whatever that may be, so I may just drop by again one of these days to see if those are any good.

She…

She is 21 today. Yes, my daughter is 21 years old now, and it seems like only yesterday when she was a little hyperactive tomboyish kid…

Little Melissa's Christmas

…before she grew into a sweet and gentle girl.

This is her actual date of birth – 17th September…but the people at the registration office made a blunder and recorded it as the 18th of September on her birth certificate. I did not bother to go through the hassle and get it amended as I thought it wouldn’t make much of a difference. So now, she has two birthdates – the real one and the one on paper and she can pick and choose when to celebrate the special occasion.

One’s 21st birthday would be when a person is given the symbolic key which indicates that he or she can now unlock all ties and is now completely free, so my girl is now an adult…finally.

Melissa - end of August 2010

This photo was taken a few weeks ago, somewhere around the 28th of August, when Judy, an ex-tuition student of mine, now in Massey Uni at Palmerston North – a bit to the north of Wellington in New Zealand, dropped by and the two met up and went for fish and chips.

The last time I posted some of her photos, somebody commented that she had grown into a lady, a little girl no longer. However, I would not think much has changed though. Whatever it is, I still consider her as “my little girl” for to me, that is what she will always be…and I will always be here for her, no matter what.

As the lyrics of this song go…

…she may be the reason I survive
The why and wherefore I’m alive
The one I’ll care for
Through the rough and rainy years
Me, I’ll take her laughter and her tears
And make them all my souvenirs…
…..The meaning of my life is…she…

A very Happy 21st Birthday, sweetheart…and here’s hoping that all your wishes and dreams will come true. May God shower His abundant blessings upon you and may He grant you strength physically, emotionally and spiritually in the face of whatever challenges that lay ahead.  Love you, girl! Muuuuuaaaahh!!!!

It’s no good…

If you may remember, I had cooked fish in this manner before but I was using one of the cheaper varieties, something like the kembong…and it turned out really great! But the other day, I only had white pomfret (pek chio/bawal putih) in the freezer, so I decided to have it done the same way…

STP's baked pandan fish 1

You can marinate the fish in whichever way you want – with sambal or kunyit (tumeric) or as in my case, tom yam paste…and then, you wrap pandan (screwpine) leaves around the fish before putting it into the oven to bake for about half an hour, by which time the leaves would be somewhat dried up like this…

STP's baked pandan fish 2

I tried a bit of it…but I was quite disappointed as it did not taste really great. I think this method of cooking would be more suitable for fish with a heavier or stronger smell…and not for something mild/bland like white pomfret. Somehow the taste is simply not compatible…

STP's baked pandan fish 3

For one thing, white pomfrets are mighty expensive and the price may go up to over RM20.00 a kg. Personally, I prefer the black variety which is a bit cheaper…but my missus does the marketing and she seems to buy it quite often. Maybe it’s easier to cook  – just steam…and I guess I should have done that too that day.

This certainly goes to show that what is expensive need not necessarily be the best and what is cheap/cheaper can be just as good or even better. I’m sure all of you will agree with me on this… What do you say?

P.S.:
I will be flying over to Kuching today for Kpg Nangka Boy’s wedding this coming Saturday…but I will be bringing my (daughter’s old) laptop along, so I guess you will still get to see me online sometimes…but perhaps, not as regularly as usual. Besides, there’ll be enough scheduled posts every day to keep you occupied in the meantime, so you’ll make sure that you’ll drop by and post a comment or two, won’t you? See ya!!!

Give a little bit…

I did not go visiting this Hari Raya. I just did not feel the mood as my missus was working – all her Malay/Muslim colleagues were on  leave, so they were short of staff…and my daughter’s all the way in Wellington, New Zealand unlike last year when she was home for the week-long break.

I did go out though…but mainly, it was to go to my parents’ house to give some stuff to their Indonesian maid for the festive occasion. I did not really buy anything elaborate; all I did was to drop by the mini-supermarket near my house and picked up a few items to stuff into this paper bag…

Paper bag

…that used to hold the mooncakes that a KL blogger-friend gave me.

I got her a can of Yeo’s beef rendang and another, the chicken vindaloo. I thought she would like those as there are pictures of Chef Wan on the label. We would watch him on TV quite often in the morning with my mum while having our 10 o’clock tea. Then I bought a pack of Sedap instant noodles – soto ayam flavour that she likes and also some individual packs of biscuits including Oreo’s and Chipsmore chocolate chip cookies – “Now you see it, now you don’t!”

Well, like I said, it wasn’t very much actually but when I wished her, “Selamat Hari Raya,” and handed the bag to her, I could see the tears well in her eyes as she replied, “I cannot repay you in any way…but God will. He will repay you.” Good grief! I was so touched by her words – there I was just giving her a little bit and what more could I ever ask for in return, other than God’s blessings.

I still have these two tins of wee’s canned products…

wee's canned products

– one beef curry and the other, chicken but they could not fit into the bag. I like their satay sauce, so I was thinking that perhaps, these would be nice too. Maybe I will just bring them over and give to her another day.

I guess it is true what they say – that little things  mean a lot…and to quote from the Bible, “I was hungry and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in. Naked and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came unto me…. Verily I say unto you, in as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto Me.” (Matt. 25:35-40)

Keep the peace and spread the love…

Born for this…

This really very delectable dish is actually for mothers during their 30-day confinement period after the delivery of a baby…

Kacang Ma 1

Locally, it is called kacang ma. It is a Hakka specialty where chicken is cooked with a lot of ginger and white wine…and used to be more commonly enjoyed by people in Kuching. Among the predominant-Foochow population in Sibu, the women will usually eat mee sua in chicken soup with ang chiew (Foochow red wine) and ginger instead.

I did not cook this though. Actually I was planning to so that day but my friend beat me to it. He and his wife are actually from Kuching and the missus is due to give birth to their third child in early November. Since the eating of kacang ma is not as widespread here, they are afraid that the confinement lady may not be able to cook it, so the onus is on the hubby to master the skill and cook it for the wife while she is in confinement.

It certainly looks like he did a pretty good job…

Kacang Ma 2

…and when the time comes, you can guess who will be dropping by the house uninvited to help the missus finish the kacang ma. LOL!!!

Kacang ma is actually the leaves/herbs. I did not know the English name for it until I chanced upon this recipe book featuring many of the special Sarawak dishes including Foochow mee sua and ang chao meat…and even fried midin (jungle fern). Then only did I know that it is actually called motherwort herb…

Kacang Ma recipe

I googled and found this piece of information:
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca [Latin]), also called leonurus, lion’s tail, and heartwort, has been used to treat heart disease and depression for thousands of years. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) recommends motherwort to promote longevity and treat menstrual disorders. Today motherwort is still recommended by herbalists for treatment of heart palpitations and anxiety, and to encourage normal menstrual cycles.

Recent studies performed in China have shown that motherwort helps prevent blood clots, relax the heart muscle and lower blood pressure. Motherwort contains lionurine and stachydrine, alkaloids that not only help lower blood pressure but also have a sedating effect on the central nervous system, which supports motherwort’s traditional use as a treatment for depression and anxiety.

Gee! It certainly has a lot of benefits! I didn’t know that…

I have nothing…

Well, the other day, I had nothing in the fridge – no vegetables. There were meat and fish in the freezer…but the fridge was as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s (I bet not many young people today would know her…) cupboard. I couldn’t go out to buy as it was raining heavily…and then I spotted a tupperware of cut pineapples. My missus often buys some to eat while watching tv at night…and suddenly, I knew exactly what I could cook – asam pineapples with prawns!

STP's asam pineapples with prawns 1

There was a packet of asam paste for cooking seafood in the freezer. My missus used half of it to cook fish…or prawns once and we thought it wasn’t really nice. Ah well…I was not about to go through the trouble of cutting and pounding all the ingredients, so I decided to use what was left in the packet.

I just fried the paste in the wok, no oil added…and then I threw in some finely chopped Bombay onion and a few stalks of serai (lemon grass) and a while later, the prawns. Once the prawns were cooked, I added the pineapples plus a bit of water to simmer for a while…and some sugar to balance the sourish taste of the asam and the pineapples. Then, it was ready…

STP's asam pineapples with prawns 2

To my delight, it turned out very nice…

…except that there was a strong smell of bunga kantan (ginger flower/torch ginger bud) which some people may find repulsive but I was ok with that.

STP's asam pineapples with prawns 3

The best part, of course, was that there was no hassle at all – easy to cook, nice to eat! Yum! Yum!!! LOL!!!

Make it easy on yourself…

Well, if you think that the boiled pork that I featured in my post yesterday is too plain or perhaps, too bland for you, you can try this instead…

STP's soy sauce pork with eggs 1

When my missus cooks braised meat, I would shudder at the amount of preparation and ingredients…five-spice powder, dried shitake mushrooms and what not (including adding cornflour to thicken the sauce/gravy). My way is definitely less labour-intensive and so much easier and you will end up with something equally nice.

Firstly, you marinate the meat with soy sauce and sugar – 4-6 tablespoons of the former and 1 or 2 tablespoons of the latter. Let it sit for at least an hour or so. Then, you heat up the wok and throw the meat in with the seasoning, no oil added. Turn the meat over and over a few times to let it be completely coated and turn nicely brown. Next , you add water to cover about two-thirds of the meat and put in one whole bulb of garlic. Leave it to simmer, turning the meat regularly.

In the meantime, boil some eggs and peel away the shell. Put the eggs in the wok while the gravy is simmering so that the eggs will be nicely browned too. When there is only a bit of gravy left, the dish is ready.

STP's soy sauce pork with eggs 2

What I like about cooking the meat this way is that when you cut it into thin slices to be served, you will find that the gravy has not seeped into the meat, so you can still enjoy its natural flavour without it being overpowered by the soy sauce.

You can serve this at parties too along with the eggs, cut into halves but I would suggest that you serve the gravy separately to be added as and when needed. I love to add the gravy to the eggs, especially the yolk…

STP's soy sauce pork with eggs 3

So, as you can see, no oil is used, no msg, no salt – just the soy sauce and the sugar. Taking that into consideration, I guess this dish is a lot healthier than most…and take my word for it – it is nice!

Don’t lie…

Yes, don’t lie! Don’t say that you cannot cook unless you are one of those hopeless individuals who cannot even boil water….and indeed, that is all you need to know to be able to cook this dish – boil water!

This was one of the things my mum used to cook and when I was small, I loved it so much that all day long, I would be sneaking into the kitchen to pinch a piece or two to eat. My mum would be furious when by dinner time, she discovered that half of it had disappeared. LOL!!!

All you need to do is to put a slab of pork in a cooking pot…

STP's boiled pork 1

…and fill it with water (submerging the meat or almost all of it) and boil it…

STP's boiled pork 2

It’s as simple as that. When the water has started boiling, remove the lid and leave it to simmer for around 45 minutes to almost an hour to make sure that the meat is cooked completely. By then, much of the water would have evaporated and you would only have about half or one third of it left.

Pour the water into another pot…and add half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of msg to the meat. Cover the pot and shake it vigorously so that the ingredients will coat the meat completely. Leave it to rest.

Come mealtime, take out the meat and cut it into thin slices and serve…

STP's boiled pork 3

That is all there is to it. It’s so very simple, right?

Of course, you may eat it with sambal belacan or pounded chilli and garlic for added flavour. My daughter loves it with black pepper sauce or BBQ sauce.

STP's boiled pork 4

By the way, you can use the water as stock to cook vegetable soup…or simply do what I normally do. I would add a little bit of water, say 2:1 or 3:1, the latter being the proportion of water to the stock. Bring it back to boil and add salt and msg according to taste. Garnish it with chopped spring onions and/or fried shallots and/or chopped Chinese celery (daun sup) and serve.

Killing two birds with one stone – at the end of it all, I would have a meat dish and a soup and I can just fry a veg dish for a complete/balanced meal to be eaten with rice. Anybody wants to give this  a try?