Heart of glass…

I love glass noodles or what we call tung hoon…with fish balls.

I wish I knew how to make fish balls but I don’t. I’ve seen people doing it and it did not look so easy – all that pounding to get it nice and khiew (springy). My missus bought some from  a fish stall at the Dewan Suarah (Civic Centre) market here and she said that the lady made them herself. She claimed that she used ikan tenggiri (mackerel) even though I kind of suspected that she made them with the leftover fish that did not sell. Whatever it was, it turned out that they were very good!

The thing is that to make very nice fish ball soup, you would need very good fish balls. I would never use those frozen ones sold at the supermarket as they have a very peculiar taste – like those imitation crab sticks…and I’m sure they contain a whole lot of artificial preservatives to keep them from going bad. Besides, when you boil them, they will all swell up to the size of ping pong balls or bigger which goes to show that they are mostly flour and very little fish.

Anyway, I went to the market but there were none of those own-made fish balls for sale but one fishmonger suggested that I bought the local Sibu-made fish balls instead. He claimed that all the food stall in town would use the same…and in the end, I bought a few packets from him.

Cooking the soup is easy. Just throw the balls into some water with a few cloves of garlic and boil. When it has started boiling, let it simmer for as long as possible to let the taste go into the soup. Add salt and msg according to taste…or if you prefer, you may use those chicken stock granules instead and you may add a tablespoon or two of fish gravy in place of the salt and to enhance the taste. Normally people will also add a handful of tang chai (preserved vegetables) for the additional flavour which I like…but I don’t like eating them and trying to pick them out from the soup and separating them from the fish balls and glass noodles can be quite tedious. That was why I omitted them altogether.

In the meantime, you can boil some water and soak the glass noodles in it to soften them…and you can slice some chillies thinly and soak them in chio cheng (light soy sauce) to dip the fish balls and eat the glass noodles with.

Having done all that, put some of the glass noodles in a bowl, pour some of the fish ball soup over them and serve with a few of the fish balls, garnished with chopped daun sup (Chinese celery) like this…

Hu ee tung hoon

If  you like yong tofu, you will defintely like this…

Nothing in between…

I’m  a regular person. I will have regular meals at regular times – breakfast, lunch and dinner and tea at 10.00 a.m. and 3.00 p.m. I do not take supper though as I should not drink anything after dinner or I may need to get up in the middle of the night to ease myself. My sleeping habits must be regular too, you see – in bed by around 10 p.m. and no waking up till morning around 5 or 6.00 a.m.

I guess that explains why my shape is also very regular – regularly round…even though I do not eat anything in between meals. Thus, I do not snack on tidbits such as prawns crackers, potato crisps and the like. My missus and my daughter, on the other hand, have the tendency to do that and when my daughter was home, she bought quite a bit to munch while watching television, reading or surfing online including packets of this…

Cheezels 1

She did not finish all of them though so there were a few packets lying around and upon close scrutiny, I noticed that the manufacturer claimed that they only used real cheese…

Cheezels 2

…and the biscuits were baked, not fried…

Cheezels 3

It certainly seemed that they were pretty wholesome, not what people would classify as “junk food” so I opened a packet to try…

Cheezels 4

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook a few days ago:
“…I’m crazy over Kraft Cheezels Biskitz ……….. not good for blood pressure though ‘cos they’re a bit too salty :)…”
but if you asked me, I would not be sharing those same sentiments.

In my honest opinion, they tasted like those Cheezels rings – exactly the same, no difference at all. She did say that they cost RM2.80 or RM3.00, depending on where one goes to buy them…and if she was talking about those little packets, I must say that they are mighty expensive…and believe it or not, they’re actually made in China!

Well, one thing’s for sure, I would not be going out to buy more for my morning or afternoon tea. Would you?

 

Easy does it…

I love plain and simple clear soups. That’s why I do not really like the Malay or Indian soups with all those exotic spices added…and they tend to be rather oily. As for the thick soups at Chinese restaurants, sharks’ fins or sea cucumber or sweet  corn to name a few, I do not mind those sometimes for a change but my choice is still the clear ones.

My missus would add this and that when she cooks soups in the hope of enhancing the taste. I would not say that it  is not nice but they will all turn out different e.g. her bean curd stick soup would not be like what I’ve always known it to be and loved.

I would break the sticks into bite-sized lengths, boil some water and soak the sticks in it first to soften them thoroughly and then I would drain away the water and rinse the sticks…

Bean curd stick soup 1

My daughter would take the soup but would not eat these as she said they seemed like plastic to her. Chesh! LOL!!!

For the soup base, I would use pork bones or minced meatballs. The other day, I found this chunk of pork bone in the freezer so I used that…

Bean curd stick soup 2

I boiled that in water with four cloves of garlic, peeled and let that simmer for at least half an hour.

This may be the base for any vegetable soup. Bring it back to boil, throw in the cut and cleaned green leafy veg and serve. I do not like the veg if it has been cooked in the soup for much longer than needed especially when it has gone all discoloured. Cabbage and Chinese cabbage may be cooked this way too.

I guess if you’re not into non-halal stuff, you can replace the meat with chicken or use one of those chicken or ikan bilis (anchovies) stock cubes. Using prawns or beef would probably bring the soup to a different level altogether and would not taste the same even though that may be nice as well.

Anyway, back to the bean curd sticks, once the soup base was ready, I added a pinch of salt and msg according to taste and threw in the softened bean curd sticks, allowing it to simmer for a while for the taste to go into the soup. My mother would add a tablespoon of fish gravy for extra flavour but I did not have that in the house so I used chio cheng (light soy sauce) instead.

Garnish with chopped spring onions or daun sup (Chinese celery) and serve…

Bean curd stick soup 3

You may slice some shallots and fry in oil for the garnishing too, if so desired but I would not use those ready-fried ones sold in supermarkets. Somehow, they seem to have a very peculiar and repulsive smell and taste to me and I just do not like it at all.

So, easy, isn’t it? Plain and simple and clear bean curd stick soup – I love it…and I’m sure you’ll love it too!

This is the last time…

I saw in the papers the other day that they are going to increase the prices of canned foods again. Well, since I can get freshly cooked food very cheaply around here, I do not need to buy canned stuff so much anymore.

In the past, it was cheaper and also very convenient…but these days, sardines are over RM5.00 a can and tuna over RM4.00 for a small one. Stewed pork is over RM8.00 and corned beef too…and this Gulong brand luncheon meat was over RM5.00. I wonder how much it would cost now.

Well, I had one can in the pantry that I bought when Melissa was home as she used to love  it but I never got round to cooking it then. So I decided to do that the other day…probably for the last time – considering the escalating prices and also, I am somewhat wary about stuff imported from China these days after hearing all the horror stories here, there and everywhere.

I cut the meat into bite-sized pieces and fried them a bit on a non-stick pan for a crustier and harder surface…

Cooking luncheon meat 1

Then I sliced one Bombay onion, broke two eggs and beat them – adding a pinch of salt and msg to it…

Cooking luncheon meat 2

After that, I fried the onions in a bit of oil…

Cooking luncheon meat 3

…before adding the meat…

Cooking luncheon meat 4

…and lastly, I poured in the egg…

Cooking luncheon meat 5

…and stirred well till it is cooked. Then it is ready…

Cooking luncheon meat 6

Instead of luncheon meat, especially those who do not eat non-halal stuff, one can cook sliced sausages (or turkey ham or beef bacon) this same way (and I love it with thinly-sliced mushrooms added)…and it tastes great also with chopped bak kua (barbecued meat) or Chinese sausage.

So, it certainly looks like it’s bye-bye, canned foods – it was great while it lasted.

True blue…

My ex-student, Xavier, is back in town again on a week-long holiday so the other day, we went out for breakfast together.

Well, any true blue Sibu-ian who has been away even for a while would have this craving for kampua noodles and since he loves beef, I decided to take him here so that he could have this sizzling pepper beef kampua (RM8.80)…

Sizzling pepper beef kampua
*recycled pic*

I guess that would be something like killing two birds with one stone.

I decided that I would try something else in the menu and was thinking about one of their congee selections but in the end, I decided to have their mee sua (string noodles) or Foochow longevity noodles instead…

Foochow longevity noodles

It was all right but a bit too strong on the ginger for me…and I would love to have a lot of traditional Foochow red wine in it. I must say that at RM9.80 a bowl, that was extremely pricey – I can get the same thing but a lot better elsewhere at a much lower price. Well, I suppose when you go and eat at a classier, air-conditioned place, you should be prepared to pay more…but still, I would expect not just the price but the quality as well to be a class above the rest.

Still, it’s a nice place to go to and sit around in comfort and eat and chat the whole day. They even have their own parking spaces so you do not need to worry about paying any parking fee.

Dance, little lady, dance…

It was Claire who first proposed the idea of getting together on 2nd April in Penang with fellow-bloggers and friends to eat, sing and dance…

…and she passed the ball to Eugene to look for a suitable venue for all that. Then she blogged about it here and here and Eugene too put up a post on it.

Unfortunately, response has been very poor. My good friend, Mandy, said she would be around and would join us and blogger, SexyJesse, said she would come too.

IsaacTan is not very sure right now…and that’s about it. Actually it does not matter really as we do not need a big crowd – I am sure just the few of us can be as much fun as a barrel of monkeys, so to speak.

So, come April 2nd, we will be partying the night away…

Anybody else interested in joining us? Just let anyone of us know – we’d love to have you for company…

What goes up…

What goes up must come down, so says Newton…but obviously he’s not talking about the spiralling prices of things around here. People say that the economy has improved but there is no sign of anything getting cheaper. As far as that is concerned, the only way is UP!

Thankfully, I can still get some nice and cheap stuff for lunch or dinner at my regular Malay food stall at Bandong. The other day I bought these absolutely delightful shrimps for RM5.00…

Bandong's shrimps

…and this pineapple cooked with salai ikan (smoked fish) for only RM3.00…

Pineapple with smoked fish

RM8.00 and that was more than enough to go with rice for our dinner for two!

Then, on another day, I bought RM5.00 worth this sotong (squid) in soy sauce…

Sotong in soy sauce

…and needless to say, that is a lot more substantial and cheaper…and a lot nicer too than the same thing that we can buy in cans.

For the vegetable dish that day, I bought this sambal timun (cucmber) for only RM2.00…

Sambal timun

…and boy, did I enjoy that? It was so very nice, I tell you!

I think if we were to go and buy from the market to cook our own, it would be a lot more expensive and besides, it is rather difficult to cook for only two persons…not to mention the work involved. My missus would cook so much that we would have to eat the same thing for days on end.

This way, we can have nice food without the hassle…and we can spend a lot less too. That’s killing two birds with one stone, don’t you think?

Cut down spending, fight inflation!

What did you say…

I went to the Rejang Park shops here one morning…

Rejang Park shops, Sibu

In case anybody is interested, that fancy-looking building on the left used to be a cinema. I dropped by the little shop facing the market to buy my favourite kompia – hot from the oven…

Rejang  Park kompia

The ones here are smaller and thinner and sometimes, they may even be out of shape and do not look so nice but looks can be deceiving for I find that they are crunchier and more fragrant than most – others are often tough and rubbery and not as nice when eaten on their own.

Well, since I was in the vicinity, I thought I would just stop somewhere to have something to eat so I went to this coffee shop that I had been to a few times before. I saw a familiar looking old lady sitting at one of the tables with a middle-aged man. I promptly ordered a plate of char kway teow (fried flat rice noodles) with see-ham (cockles) and the guy got up and went  to cook what I had ordered.

It seemed that he mixed a bit of noodles with the kway teow even though I did not ask for it to be done that way and once ready, it was served right away…

Happy Hours char kway teow

…by a young girl – probably the daughter of the man and the grand-daughter of the old lady…and since she was not in school in the morning, I guessed that she must be in a lower secondary class as they usually have their lessons in the afternoon.

Juak chay lui?” (Direct translation: How much money?) I asked.

“Huh?” she replied, looking quite baffled.

Kui lui?” I rephrased the same question in another way.

She stood there in silence. In the meantime, the Indonesian worker came to my table to serve the kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee) that I had asked for and she saw and heard what was going on and she replied loud and clear, “Empat (Four) ringgit!” I gave the girl the money and she took it curtly and left. Gosh! Don’t people teach their children good manners anymore? Tsk! Tsk!

It was rather early in the morning and there  were no other customers who wanted anything from the stall so that young girl sat at the same table with her grandmother. In the meantime, the old lady’s friend had joined her and they were conversing in Hokkien, discussing whatever they could see in the morning newspaper. The girl did not make a sound nor did she display any interest in what they were talking about.

Then, the old lady saw something in the papers and turning to the girl, she switched code and spoke to her in Mandarin and they talked about whatever they were talking about for a while in the language.

Sigh! The signs are showing, aren’t they? It is so very obvious that the dialects are slowly but surely becoming obsolete in this town especially among the younger generation. Anybody else has had the same experience here or elsewhere?

Baa baa black sheep…

As far as instant noodles – curry flavour go, my favourites were the made-in-Sibu Mee Daddy or this one…

Cintan mee kari
*recycled pic*

But not too long ago, my missus bought a few packets of this (RM3.30 for a pack of 5)…

Mee Baa...gus kari 1

…and upon trying it, I found that I loved it too!

Initially, I was quite put off by the brand name as I felt it was quite unimaginative but “Mee Baa…gus” certainly brings to mind that children’s song – probably the kids are the target as it may serve to attract them to want to eat it…just that the poor parents will have to fork out the money to buy for them.

It turned to be an Ibumie product, the company that produces the Malaysian-made instant mee goreng that is not as nice as Indomie, made in Indonesia.

Anyway, back to the noodles, I cooked them as usual and had them with some shrimps and an egg that I bought from my regular Malay food stall at Bandong

Mee Baa...gus kari 2

…and it was really nice. Yum! Yum!

Spice up your life (2)…

Mery Sia dropped by my regular Bandong Malay kuih-muih stall and bought the nasi lemak there but she complained that it was not spicy. I don’t know which one she bought but this one that I used to buy all the time in the past was extra spicy (RM1.50)…

Bandong nasi lemak 1
*recycled pic*

….or at least to me (and even my parents’ Indon maid), it was. Perhaps, she likes things a lot spicier so it wasn’t quite up to her standard.

Well, lately, they have the pandan nasi lemak…

Nasi lemak pandan

…also selling at RM1.50 a packet. I’m not sure whether this is made by the same person but I do find that it is nice as well and spicy enough for me. It used to look greener though…on the previous occasions that I bought this for breakfast.

Then, there came another version with sambal sotong

Nasi lemak sotong

…also selling at RM1.50 packet. I love the sambal but unfortunately, you get very little kacang (peanuts) and fried ikan bilis (anchovies)…and there is just one thick slice of cucumber. They do give that bit of hardboiled egg though – like in the case of the rest…and there is one teeny-weeny bit of salted fish too.

Well, whatever it is, I have not come across any nasi lemak that is better and just as cheap elsewhere in town so until I do, I will just have to stick to these.