How do you do…

This is ang chiew – our very own Sibu Foochow home-brewed red wine…

Foochow red wine

…which is very versatile when it comes to using it for cooking.

And this is ang chao – the residue that one would get when making ang chiew

Foochow ang chao

It is used for cooking also – meat especially but sometimes, people do use it to marinate fish prior to frying.

Nope, I am not interested in how to make ang chiew or for that matter, ang chao. What I would like to find out is how to cook mee sua (thread/string noodles) in chicken soup with ginger and the red wine and get the meat and the soup all red like this…

Foochow mee sua 1

I had this at a coffee shop in the vicinity called Lot 9 here in Sibu. There is a middle-aged lady there selling very nice porridge and pork leg in herbal soup and also mee sua for RM4.80 a bowl…

Foochow mee sua 2

But you will have to be very patient as she seems to be extremely slow and takes a long time to cook and serve.

I can cook it myself but just as in the case of a number of places in town that also sell it, mine isn’t red in colour like what as you can see in this post or this one. I think I saw Annie posting a photograph of the mee sua that she cooked (or was it her mum?) and it was red. I wonder if she adds a bit of ang chao to it or something like that. So, Annie, how do you do it?

Jungle love…

I guess Annie will not like this as she’s not into belacan (dried fermented prawn paste) and hot and spicy stuff but I love it!

These are sour brinjals or what we call terung Dayak here and terung asam in the peninsula…

Terung Dayak

To cook it kampung-style, you will have to cut them into slices like these…

Terung Dayak - sliced

I will try and remove all the seeds as usually, in the process of cooking, they will come off and sink to the bottom making the soup quite messy.

These are all the ingredients that you need…

Terung Dayal - ingredients

a chunk of belacan, serai (lemon grass) and chillies.

Fill half of the pot with water and boil till the fragrance of the ingredients come out and the belacan has melted in the boiling water. Then, you put in the brinjal slices and keep on simmering till they are cooked in which case, they will be soft and you may see that the edges of the skin have started to peel off.

Then you put in the fish to cook and once cooked, it is ready to be served…

Terung Dayak with fish 1

As you can see, no salt or msg is needed. Usually, the belacan contains some salt, so it will be salty enough and all the ingredients will make the soup real sweet, so there is no need to add msg either.

Terung Dayak with fish 2

I added the fish last so that it will not disintegrate in the extended boiling to bring out the flavour of all the ingredients. It is also nice to use udang galah (freshwater prawns) in which case you can throw everything in right from the start as there is no danger of the crustaceans falling apart.

With the sourish taste from the brinjals and the sweetness and fragrance of all the other ingredients, this goes extremely well with rice. I bet you will want to have seconds… LOL!!!

The second time…

My blogger-friend of the now-almost dormant Kampua Talk, Clare, was in town again on Monday for a meeting and we went out for lunch at…

Payung Cafe, Sibu

…where else but Payung Café. Only there can you get to see flowers like these all over.

She wanted the otak otak rice (RM12.00) that I had on my previous visit which also happened to be my first…

Payung's otak otak

…because I was not the only one praising it to the skies. On her last visit, while waiting at the departure lounge at the airport in Sibu, she overheard two ladies talking, one of whom went after reading the feature in The Star and she was telling her friend how very nice the food at this café was – the otak otak, the fruit salad and what have you.

Clare loved it, of course…and what I had was also very nice – Payung beef rice, Thai-style (RM12.00)…

Payung Thai-style beef rice

I really wonder what they use to marinate and cook their dishes as everything seemed to be oozing with flavours. They all tasted really great including this mixed vegetable salad (RM7.00) that I ordered…

Payung's mixed vegetable salad

The proprietor of the café, Peter, said that it was Indonesian…but I felt the taste was something like the seasoning that came with the pad Thai noodles that I had featured in my post a few days ago. I still have a packet of the noodles, so perhaps I can fry them in our usual char kway teow style and use the seasoning to make some kind of salad like this one. I certainly will feature that in a future post if it turns out nice.

Anyway, to get back to our lunch, for dessert, I had this superb banana cake with chocolate ice cream (RM7.00)…

Payung's banana cake with chocolate ice cream

Both Clare and I enjoyed it tremendously.

Clare also ordered the jelly pisang (RM7.00) that I also had on my previous visit…

Payung's jelly pisang

… – the celebrated specialty of the Ban Chuan Coffee Shop here in Sibu during my teenage days but unfortunately, she is too young to know about all this.

That certainly was a sumptuous lunch and the best part was that when I went to settle the bill, Peter said that Clare had already paid when I “went out for some fresh air”. Thanks a lot for the treat, Clare – we’ll go again and it will be on me next time around.

But wait a minute! Something else happened just before we were about to leave the place. Two of my ex-colleagues from one of my former schools also stopped by there for lunch…and they were obviously curious as to who the SYT (sweet young thing) with me was and were trying to ask me via their gestures and facial expressions. I nonchalantly introduced her to them as “my friend, Clare” and said nothing more and was so amused by the mystified looks on their faces… I really wonder what wild imaginings they must have had running through their heads at that point in time as we got into my car and drove off together… Muahahahahaha!!!

Mack the Knife…

I love sardines – fresh ones and even those canned ones in tomato sauce. I love the latter in sandwiches, preferably with slices of tomato…or in baked rolls or puffs. My daughter is not a fan as she does not fancy the idea of eating the bones – something that we thought was such a novelty when we were kids like it was some kind of a major achievement and we were so amused by it.

Ever since  I was small, my mother would cook the canned sardines with sliced Bombay onions, adding a little bit more tomato sauce to enhance the flavour. To this day, I still do the same except that I may add some sliced chillies for that extra kick. Once I even used the sardines to cook fish curry using the Yeo’s canned curry gravy, adding vegetables like ladies fingers and brinjal to it…and I remember how I enjoyed that.

I do not mind the Ayam Brand ones but my favourite is still the Marina Brand. However, my missus bought this the other day…

AYAM mackerel 1

…and claimed that the mackerel tasted better than sardines. I did not find any difference between the two – I like them both.

In fact, it was only after I got married that I started eating sardines without cooking them. Instead of cooking the sardines, my missus would cut a few shallots and chillies and spread the slices all over the fish in a plate and after that, she would cut some calamansi lime and squeeze them over everything in the plate. I had a post on this a long long time ago but the other day, I opened the can of mackerel in tomato sauce and did the same…

AYAM mackerel 2

The lime would drown out the canned smell of the fish a little bit and the sour taste plus that of the raw shallots and the spiciness of the chillies go a long way to enhance the enjoyment of the dish.

AYAM mackerel 3

Actually, if you use that to make sandwiches, they will taste great as well…but do make sure you do not talk to anybody at a very close range after you have eaten that. LOL!!!

Bend it…

I first saw this when Gerrie of the now-dormant blog drivenbymood.wordpress.com (Obviously, no mood anymore… LOL!!!) posted a photograph of it on Facebook…

Pad Thai noodles 1

It is not cheap, mind you! RM8.39 at Giant…and I just cannot stand them pricing the items like that – they’re not going to pay back the 1 sen change anyway, so why don’t they just put RM8.40? Probably they want people to buy more – if they buy 3, that would be RM25.17 and they would only need to pay RM25.15 – is that how it works?

Anyway, back to the post, I was very happy to get hold of it here (Apparently it is all sold out in Kuching…) as I had been looking for such packets of dried pad thai noodles or kway teow (flat rice noodles). I managed to buy one from The Store in Sungai Petani once and it was really very nice but the second time around, I bought another packet from the same place but it tasted like mihun – flattened mihun!

Well, I cooked a packet the other day and as everybody knows, I am the type that is not too disciplined enough to follow recipes or for that matter, cooking instructions…but I did the best I could even though I did “bend the rules” a little bit. LOL!!!

There are two packets of the noodles in each pack and I obediently boiled both in salted water for 3 minutes, drained it and rinsed it in cold water. Then, I had to prepare the necessary ingredients. According to the instructions, I had to fry an omelette in the oil and slice to be used later for garnishing and I did just that…

Pad Thai ingredients 1

I would have to fry the prawns next which I did but I added some slices of fish cake as well…

Pad Thai ingredients 2

I was supposed to take them out of the wok and add them in later…but I didn’t! Hehehehehe!!!! I just threw in the noodles and added the seasoning (after diluting it with water) – this comes in the pack as well, two separate sachets so you can use one at a time if you are going to cook the two portions of pad thai noodles separately.

Then, I threw in the sliced egg and the taugeh (bean sprouts) and stir-fried till the bean sprouts were adequately cooked. Then I served all that in a big plate and garnished with crushed peanuts…

Pad Thai garnishing 1

…sliced chillies and daun sup (Chinese celery)…

Pad Thai garnishing 2

This was what the end result looked like…

Pad Thai noodles 2

Well, as they say, the test of the pudding is in the eating…

Pad Thai noodles 3

…and I would say it was nice – kind of pale, somewhat sweet and something like what I had at the Ark not too long ago. I did not really fancy the lingering taste of msg in the mouth after eating it though…and on the whole, I would prefer to cook it our own way – char kway teow style.

If only they would sell just the pad thai noodles, minus the seasoning…and at a lower price!

Green…

I do not think we can go to a restaurant and order a plate of mustard green…or kua chai as we call it in Hokkien. Not long ago, they did serve the crunchy stalks and from what I gathered, they imported those from China. But other than those, I do not know why they are not on the menu alongside the usual veg like cangkuk manis, kangkong (water spinach), kai lan (Chinese broccoli) and the baby version of it, tau geh (bean sprouts), the ferns – midin and paku and so on and so forth.

I like it as a soup dish. I would boil some meat bones with garlic…and add salt and msg according to taste and just before serving, I would bring it back to boil and put in the kua chai and cook it for just a little while. It is not so nice if it is overcooked – soft and soggy.

I also fry it…

STP's fried mustard green 1

Just heat up a bit of oil and throw in some chopped garlic and fry till brown. The thinly-sliced chilli is optional. Add some prawns…or meat if you prefer and cook for a while. Finally, throw in the veg – the stalks first as they take longer to cook…and then the green leafy parts. Add just a little bit of water and a teaspoon of chicken stock, mix well and serve…

STP's fried mustard green 2

The veg cost me around 80 sen at the mini-supermarket near my house, so all in all, I guess that dish wouldn’t cost more RM2.00-3.00 with all the other ingredients added. The best part, of course, was it was very nice…

Well, if anyone’s interested, they can click this link to see how they fry it with crab meat. I would think mine is simpler though and probably looks and tastes  nicer too. What do you all think? LOL!!!

(I can’t get no) satisfaction (2)…

A friend of a friend posted on Facebook that she went to this place after reading my post on the sambal petai fried kway teow…and she got really pissed off when they decided to take photographs of the plate she had ordered…probably for display at the stall. Luckily, nothing of the sort ever happened to me there or for that matter, anywhere else.

I did go back there again with my missus and she had the so-called Penang char kway teow (fried flat rice noodles, Penang style), RM4.00…

Kong Ma Ma's Penang char kway teow

…but she felt that Kim Eng’s (RM3.80) at Kopitiam Fantasy was a lot nicer.

I had the ee-mee (RM4.00)..

Kong Ma Ma's ee-mee

…but was kind of disappointed when it was served in a plate. Somehow or other, I had expected it to come in a claypot. As for the taste, it was VERY salty. It probably  would have been nice if the guy had cut down the amount of salt he used by at least half.

A few days later, I stopped by again and wanted the Hokkien mee but unfortunately, he said that he had run out of the noodles. Then, he suggested something in clear soup (RM5.00) and it came out looking like this…

Kong Ma Ma's mee/kway teow in clear soup

There was a mixture of yellow noodles and kway teow in it with prawns, char siew (barbecued meat), fish balls, baby corn and so on. As for the taste, it was as nice as it looked – o.k. but nothing great. I wouldn’t want to have that again…ever!

Well, I have tried a lot of the stuff at this new stall in the coffee shop and judging by what I have tried so far, I do not think there is very much more to look forward to…

Someone that I used to love…

I used to love her nasi lemak or mee goreng

Peter Cafe's mee goreng special 1

…but it has been quite a while now since the last time I dropped by her place for what she has to offer – probably since sometime around the middle of last year.

I’m talking about this Malay lady running a stall at the Peter Cafe & Restaurant in Sg. Antu, directly across the road from Courts Mammoth. I guess I have my reasons – firstly, it is slightly out of the way from my house to my parents’ which means that I would need to make a detour and secondly, all this while, I have been stopping by my regular kuih-muih stall at Bandong where there is a wider variety of Malay cakes and delicacies including nasi lemak and mee goreng for me to choose.

Well, it so happened that I was driving past the other day and to my surprise, she was open for business, it being the fasting month of Ramadhan and most Malay food outlets would be closed including that Bandong stall. So, I decided there and then to stop there for some noodles…for old times’ sake.

This is her mee goreng (fried noodles) special, RM3.50…

Peter Cafe's mee goreng special 2

…for which you will get a fried egg – bull’s eye/sunny side up. I like how she uses the wok to fry the egg and you get the nice crispy golden edges. Otherwise, you will just get the rendang or masak hitam beef with the noodles for only RM3.00.

I think I have mentioned that if given a choice between the Chinese fried noodles (dry) and the Malay one, I would definitely prefer the latter as the former is usually quite bland with only soy sauce and msg…and perhaps some miserable pieces of pork and a few strands on taugeh (bean sprouts). Besides, with the latter, you will get that small complimentary bowl of soup that is actually quite tasty…

Peter Cafe's mee goreng special 3

…unlike what you would get from the Chinese eateries. Judging from the photos in  my previous posts, it seems that there has been some improvement over these past months. The noodles look much nicer and they are served together with a spoon and chopsticks instead of a fork and spoon…and the most important thing, of course, is that they still taste as good.

Do give it a try if you happen to be in the vicinity…

Anything goes…

I never follow recipes when I cook; I just follow my instincts and thankfully, most, if not all the time, everything has turned out pretty nice…like the chicken that I cooked the other day.

STP's stewed-fried chicken 1

I did not want to steam it anymore as when I was posting my different variations of the dish, somebody was already grumbling already the other day, “Steamed chicken again!” So what I did was I defrosted the chicken and marinated the bite-size pieces with  4-5 tablespoons of soy sauce and two tablespoons of tomato sauce. Then I left it in the fridge while I went to my parents’ place all morning to babysit my bedridden mum.

When I came home in the afternoon, I heated up the wok and threw the chicken in to cook till the juices/oil came out. I kept stirring till those have dried up and the chicken had a nice brown colour. Then I added some water and threw in the following:
* one Bombay onion, peeled
* three slices of ginger
* two stalks of serai (lemon grass…in the absence of leek)
* two carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
* four potatoes, peeled and quartered
* one can of button mushrooms, halved
* one stalk curry leaves
* some chopped spring onions (as I did not have any daun sup or Chinese celery in the house).

I brought it to boil and let it simmer for a while till everything was cooked before I turned off the heat. It was ready to serve…

STP's stewed-fried chicken 2

No salt, no msg added…and I was happy that it turned out to be very nice indeed. Perhaps, you would want to add some cornflour to thicken the gravy a bit but for me, it was fine the way it was.

Pleasant surprise…

I was just going through the motions, caught in the rut of my everyday routine and I did not expect it at all when Kongkay contacted me on Sunday night to invite me and my missus out for dinner the following evening – the eve of National Day. It certainly was a pleasant surprise!

Well, it turned out that he was in town along with some blogger-friends of his from Kuching – the husband & wife food bloggers, Nate and Annie, and he was entertaining them and a few other family members and friends to dinner at the MingZiang Court, the Chinese restaurant at one of the big hotels in town…

Kingwood's MingZiang Court

The dinner started with this dish of hot treasures…

MingZiang Court's Hot Treasures

…that included some abalone. slices of ham, beef tendon and so on.

Then came the soup…

MingZiang Court's black chicken soup

…and thankfully, Kongkay had graciously omitted that not-to-be-named delicacy and replaced it with black chicken soup instead. Black chicken? Ugh!!! But one sip of it changed my tune completely! It was really very nice…and so very sweet – I think I saw some dried scallops in it. Hmmm….I must KIV that for the next time I steam some chicken.

The fish that night must have cost a fortune as it was one of the three most expensive freshwater fish from the upper reaches of the Rejang River, worth their weight in gold. Those would be the empurau, semah…and this one, the tangadak

MingZiang Court's steamed tangadak

For one thing, these fish have a lot of bones, so extra caution would be required when eating them. Nevertheless, the flesh is really sweet and smooth and never fails to satisfy.

Next, we had the stuffed duck…

MingZiang Court's stuffed duck 1

…stuffed with glutinous rice and what-have-you…

MingZiang Court's stuffed duck 2

…but even though the duck was nice, I thought the rice inside was not sticky enough. I think I’ve had better stuffed duck elsewhere.

But the prawns were really delicious…

MingZiang Court's prawn combo

Done in two different styles, each had its own flavour or special taste. I think the one in the mihun basket was cooked with salted egg, both were a bit spicy…like there was wasabi added…and when Kongkay or somebody asked me which was better, I just did not have an answer. I felt both were equally great! That would be one dish I would definitely order, should I happen to drop by there for dinner again.

The fried mee sua

MingZiang Court's fried mee sua

…was excellent and could beat Ruby’s hands down but for a place like this, I guess the price would also be something to reckon with.

The dinner ended with the fruit platter…and it certainly was a delightful evening spent with friends, old and new.

Thanks a lot, Kongkay. Too bad you will not be around in Kuching when I go over in a couple of weeks’ time…but we’ll catch up with one another some other time. We always do…