Just might be okay…

I wouldn’t say these were very nice – at best, I would say that they were just okay. In case anyone does not know what they are or what they are called, they’re rempeyek

Rempeyek 1

I bought a packet of these the other day at my regular kuih stall at Bandong here at RM1.00 for a packet of 5 so that would work out to 20 sen a piece. I understand that they were made by somebody in Debak. I remember buying some very nice ones at another stall in the Malay kampong here and at the time, my daughter loved them so much that I bought one whole big tin of them. If I remember correctly, I could get 10 pieces for RM1.00 then but that was sometime ago.

Rempeyek 2

Now what was wrong with these? Those that I had before had a special fragrance of spices – you can click this link to check out what they use in the recipe…and I think there were even bits of curry leaves in them…but not these so I did not really think they were very tasty and did not quite enjoy them.

These, in comparison, were a whole lot nicer…

Rempeyek II 1

They told me that these were made by someone in Sibu and as can be seen in the photographs, they had a whole lot more ingredients in them and were not as plain.

Rempeyek II 2

They were smaller though…but that did not matter – I would much sooner go for the taste and the quality, not the size.

Rempeyek II 3

Also sold at RM1.00 a packet, there were 9 in the packet that I bought that day. I wonder if they counted wrongly and there should have been 10 instead. Ah well, never mind!

Now, moving on from those crisps, I must say that I was more than delighted with this…

KopitiamFantasy kueh chap special

Sibu is not known for its kueh chap even though there may be a couple of places in town that serve reasonably good ones. The people in Kuching would insist that theirs are a lot nicer, of course! But I dropped by this coffee shop sometime ago around lunch hour on a Sunday and most of the stalls were closed. Good grief! It was only past 12 and everyone had called it a day – are people getting lazy or what? Anyway, I did not have much choice – even the bak kut teh at this particular stall was sold out so I ordered the kueh chap special (RM5.50) in the hope that it just might be okay.

Well, in my opinion, it was more than just okay and I certainly would not mind going back there again for some more of that – but of course, with all the high cholesterol innards in it, I must not indulge in that too frequently. Sigh!!!

Make it better…

I just mentioned in passing the other day that in Chinese cooking, we hardly use any of those spices and herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano and what not. Most of the time, it would either be garlic, ginger or shallots…and perhaps a dash of pepper and a sprinkling of chopped spring onions or Chinese parsley (daun sup) on top. Of course there are all kinds of herbs used in the preparation of those Chinese herbal chicken or whatever soups or in bak-kut-teh like ginseng and so on…but I think those would fall into a different category of cooking ingredients.

However, one cooking ingredient that I have known since small would be the five-spice powder…or in Hokkien, ngor hiang hun. When I was small/young, my mother would send me to this Chinese medical store to buy 10 cents’ worth of the powder for her to use in her cooking. I wonder how much that same amount would cost now. Most of the time, she would use it to cook braised duck (phak lor ark) or pork leg (phak lor too kha) or meat.

Unfortunately, my missus does not eat duck so she would cook chicken instead or like the other day, she used it to cook pork…

Mrs STP's 5-spice pork 1

Ooooo…if I had some sambal belacan to eat with that…especially the fatty bits…

Mrs STP's 5-spice pork 2

…I would surely have more than a single helping of rice. Thankfully, I was too lazy to go and pound some. This would also be simply delicious when stuffed in kompia or mantao (steamed buns) but I was too lazy to go out to buy some. Hmmmm…it certainly looks like being lazy does have its merits sometimes, don’t you all agree? LOL!!!

My missus also cooked this that day…

Mrs STP's tofu with minced meat & salted fish

tofu with minced meat and salted fish. This was so good – better than anything from any of the shops outside, I tell you. However, there was a bit too much for one sitting…and when reheated for subsequent meals, the gravy became somewhat watery or diluted.

Nevertheless, the salted fish added to this dish definitely made it taste a lot better – more fragrant and nicer than without it, the same way that the five-spice powder would bring the taste of the braised meat to a different level altogether, compared to using just soy sauce and the other basic ingredients.

What about you? Any nice cooking tips to share?

Think twice…

I find it very depressing to hear or read in blogs the moans and groans about the rising prices of things and the finger-pointing that ensues blaming everybody but themselves. Well, if it is difficult for them, wouldn’t it be a lot more difficult for me?

As a pensioner, I get half of my basic salary (not the gross amount) which is around RM2,000 a month. Recently, it has been announced that every year, I would get an increment of 2% so that works out to an extra RM40.00 every month. I am sure all of you would agree that the meagre amount is hardly consoling…but still, something is better than nothing.

I was giving tuition these past few years so I had quite a substantial amount of money to splurge in any way I wished. As they say, easy come, easy go…but of course, I would have to be very careful when I had to use my pension. Now that I’ve stopped permanently, that is all I have and that calls for a change of habit and lifestyle. I just simply cannot afford to be so extravagant and such a spendthrift any longer.

At the hypermarts, I see people pushing their overflowing shopping carts to their cars and I wonder if they actually feel the pinch when they complain about the rising prices or whether they have a lot more money stashed up where it is coming from. I go to the classier cafes and restaurants and I see the crowd and it makes me wonder how they can afford it…and looking at the students in my tuition class and their sophisticated smartphones, I wonder why I cannot afford one.

But I’m not complaining. There are a lot of people who are very much worse off than me and with a little bit more care and thinking twice before spending, I am sure I have quite enough to get me through the day.

Like the other day, I saw this at a supermarket…

Special offer RM2.95

The offer price was RM3.39 instead of RM4.00 and at that particular place, they were selling it at RM2.95 only.  That worked out to 59 sen a packet of the instant noodles. Then, of course, instead of just grabbing it and heading straight to the cashier’s counter, I had to ask myself first: should I buy it? Did I need to buy it?

Bread is now RM2.80 a loaf here with approximately 14 pieces – 20 sen a piece…so if I have a sandwich (two pieces) for breakfast, that would be 40 sen and if that is not enough and I have two sandwiches, the total shoots up to 80 sen…which is more expensive than a packet of this particular brand of instant noodles for breakfast…and kampua noodles in the coffee shop is around RM2.50 a plate these days. All things considered, eventually, I did buy it.

Then I saw this pink guava juice mixed with orange…

Special offer RM2.00

…selling at RM2.00 a carton as the expiry date was about a week away. That was very cheap but it was not something that I just had to have. In fact, it was something I could do without…but seeing that it was so cheap and since I could afford it, I also bought it in the end. I still need to pamper myself sometimes…but sensibly.

Then it so happened that one day a week or so ago, there was no electric supply in my area due to some upgrading works. I spent the whole afternoon walking around the shopping malls mainly for the air-conditioning) but I ended up spending over RM200.00 on bedsheets and pillow and bolster covers. Shocking, you say? Well, the ones that I have are getting very old…and I would feel bad asking my guests to sleep on those faded rags but what made me decide to buy was the fact that they were on offer – at 70-80% discount, I could get a set of branded sheets for only around RM50.00 and that would be well within my means as I still had some money left from my tuition classes and I reckoned I could jolly well afford it…but I guess I will just have to forget about the the semi-SLR that I’ve been thinking of getting. No big deal – life’s like that. It’s all about needs and wants…and sacrifices.

I suppose if everyone spends within one’s means, everything would work out all right. The problem comes when people simply spend like there’s no tomorrow…and they swipe their cards till kingdom come knowing that they do not have the cash to pay when the bill comes…and basic economics teaches us that when demand increases, prices will rise.

The onus, therefore, is on each and everyone of us to spend smartly – think twice before you buy.

Like it this way…

In yesterday’s post, I featured my own way of eating kompia – with SPAM, cheese and tomato.

Some people, however, prefer to eat kompia just like that to enjoy its unique fragrance and taste. Others prefer it stuffed with meat and toasted…

Toasted kompia

…like these that are sold at 70sen each at a coffee shop at the old closed-down cinema complex at Rejang Park. If I can recall correctly, the name is Leong Leong or something like that. They also sell them stuffed with meat and dipped in soy sauce and 5-spice powder gravy like they do at this very popular place along Tiong Hua Road here…

Tiong Hua Road kompia
*recycled pic*

Somehow it does not tickle my fancy this way as I do not quite like my kompia soft and soggy.

These are sold at a coffee shop in the vicinity of Ling Kai Cheng Road here…

Deepfried kompia 1

First, they deep-fry the kompia and then they stuff it with meat. I stopped by the other day at around 2.00 p.m. to buy a few and there were a number of people there as well waiting for their orders. It certainly seemed very popular…even at 80 sen a piece.

Deepfried kompia 2

All in all, my favourite would be these that are sold at 3 for RM3.90 at this place

NoodleHouse kompia
*recycled pic*

No doubt they’re more expensive but personally, I think they are way ahead of the rest as far as the taste is concerned.

Of course, there are all the other ways of eating kompia at this place…or with curry gravy here and the bottom line is whether you like it this way or that, it’s all up to the individual and his or her own preference – as I always say, one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

It’s like heaven…

If you remember, I got a lot of SPAM from my NZ friend when she visited Sibu recently and the other day, I decided to try this one…

SPAM with real bacon

– SPAM with real bacon, no less.

I went to buy some kompia from my favourite shop at Rejang Park

Sibu kompia

…and I stuffed them with a slice of the meat plus cheddar cheese and tomato…

Spammed kompia 1

…and then, I put it in the oven to toast it for a while until the cheese had melted and the top of the kompia was slightly browned and would have become harder but crunchier and more crusty by then – very nice, not so rubbery or chewy and more fragrant too.

Spammed kompia 2

It certainly tasted very nice but blame it on my localised Asian/Malaysian tastebuds – personally, I feel that the ones we all had, toasted and stuffed with my missus’ own-made sambal udang kering/hay bee (dried prawns) were so very much nicer…and I bet my NZ friend would be the first to second the motion, no second thoughts whatsoever.

From there to here…

These came all the way from the East Coast from Kuala Terengganu to Sibu in East Malaysia…

Keropok sotong 1

– a packet of made-in-Terengganu keropok sotong (squid crackers)…

Keropok sotong 2

…and these giant dried chilies – each of them almost 12 inches long…

Giant dried chilies

I understand that despite the size, they are not hot at all. Oh me oh my! Now, who says that size does matter? LOL!!!

Other than these that came in this parcel via poslaju

Special delivery

…there was also this little container labelled “lemon pepper”…

Lemon pepper

I understand that it actually came from quaypocooks and the sender has generously spared me a bit to try. I’ve been told to use it to marinate meat or fish for grilling. It certainly smells great and I bet it’s going to be very delicious. I think I’ll just wait till my daughter comes home…

By the way, can anybody guess who has so kindly sent me all this stuff? If you can give me the correct answer, I’ll post to you one giant chili. Muahahahahahaha!!!

And now…*drum roll*…the moment that everyone has been waiting for – the result of the GUESS-THE-FLOWER quiz in this post last week. Well, the flowers are…

Aloe vera

…those of the aloe vera plant!

So the winners are chrisanakapai…and coffeesncookies. Congratulations to the two of you! Do leave your mailing addresses in my inbox on Facebook and your prizes will be on the way to you very soon. To the rest, tough luck…and better luck next time. LOL!!!

What’s my name…

These are potato croquettes…


…or in Malay, they are called bergedil.

I’m not really a fan as I find them a bit too oily but my daughter, when she was home, loved them and my mum too. So I would buy them occasionally for my mum to enjoy with her lunch.

What I would usually do is to fry them again on a non-stick pan. The excess oil would seep out and besides, this would give the croquettes a nicer golden colour. Then I would let them rest on some kitchen towels and press them with the same – this would further reduce the oil in them.

There are two types available at my regular Bandong stall in the morning – the plain ones, which are bigger…

Bergedil kosong

…and the ones with meat (chicken)…

Bergedil daging

which are a bit smaller.

Both are priced at RM1.00 for 3 and personally, I find the ones with meat tastier and thus nicer. Which would you prefer?

This is new…

Still at my regular Bandong stall that I frequent in the morning, there is somebody new supplying the nasi lemak sold there…

New nasi lemak 1

The packet is rectangular, longer than the rest.

There used to be a lady making very nice nasi lemak for sale, extra spicy, but she has gone back to the peninsula – to Selangor, if I’m not mistaken. This one is nice but not as spicy…

New nasi lemak 2

…and the sambal, though pretty good, does not taste as nice as the one with (RM1.50) or without sotong (RM1.00). I like the rice though – softer and more fragrant.

New nasi lemak 3

There’s another one that I have never tried – with ikan tongkol. I’m not a fan of the fish, that’s why.

This new one is also priced at RM1.5o each…but if I were to fork out that kind of money, I think I would stick to the one with the sotong. What about you?

Kindly be informed that I will most probably not be available in Sibu from the 16th of December until the 20th of December, 2011 so hopefully, if you are planning to come and visit, please avoid the aforementioned dates. Harap maklum. Sekian, terima kasih.

How do I say…

How do I say the name of this Indian delicacy?

Kuih dhall
*recycled pic*

Vadai or wadai? Vadei or wadei? I’ve noticed how some Indians seem to pronounce “v” as “w” and so they will say things like  “wery good” or “wirus“, the same way as some Chinese have a problem with “r” and “l” and hence the very stale joke that we always hear about them eating “flied lice“. Anyway, whatever it may be called or pronounced is not a big deal to me – I just call it kuih dhall…and eat it.

I love eating these but the best ones must not be too hard and what I love most is the fragrance of the herbs and spices in it. I bought some for my Kiwi sister-in-law to try when she was here but she did not like it – I guess she was quite put off by its exotic taste, something which she obviously had not acquired.

Now, there’s something new at the Bandong stall that I frequent in the morning – these cucur dhall (dhall fritters)…

Cucur dhall 1

I do not know the ingredients used but of course, there would be a need for some batter and dhall…and I think I can detect a hint of some udang kering (dried prawns) but  very little of it (which comes as no surprise as it is so very expensive) and onions/spring onions…

Cucur dhall 2

These are fried till golden in colour…

Cucur dhall 3

…and sold at only 4 for RM1.oo. Good grief! Only 25 sen each – just NZ10 cents!!! Yum! Yum!

I love them so much that I’ve been going back there morning after morning to buy some but unfortunately, they are often sold out by the time I get there. Hmmmmm…I wonder if this post will get Cleffairy running to the kitchen to make some of her corn fritters right away. LOL!!!

Getting there…

Here in Sarawak, we have what is called the rural air services between the towns, particularly the small ones where the airfields are not big enough for the bigger aircrafts. To get to these places, we will have to use the 19-seater Twin Otter…

Twin Otter aircraft
*Jimmy’s photo from his Facebook album*

I’ve flown in these small planes many times before, the first few times to Mukah, a coastal town around 3 hours by road from Sibu. On one of the earliest occasions, I remember checking in at the counter and the airline personnel, without looking up at me, asked, “What’s your weight?”

“100,” I replied.

Instantly, he lifted his head, asking, “Kilos?” Tsk! Tsk! What did you think it was, you nincompoop, I murmured silently to myself. Pounds? But knowing what was best for me, I just nodded quietly…and counted my blessings that he did not insist on weighing me and my luggage altogether. I heard that they would do that on such flights and if one was too heavy, he or she would have to buy another ticket.

On another occasion, I booked a taxi to the airport/airfield…and a man in a van came to pick me up. He drove around all the hotels in the town to pick all the others who would be taking the same flight to Sibu. At the airport, we went to check in at the counter…and lo and behold! That same man, the van driver, appeared to check us all in. Then I saw him again – this time, pulling the cart with all the luggage to put inside the aircraft. I thought to myself, “If he is going to be the one flying the plane, I will walk all the way home to Sibu.” Luckily, he did not.

But that was not all! There were only three passengers on that flight. Inside the plane, there are single seaters on the left and double seaters on the right…

Inside a Twin Otter
*Jimmy’s photo from his Facebook album*

I chose to sit on the double seaters as the single seats would not be big enough to accommodate half of my butt! Other than that, the seat belt was so short – just long enough for me to use as an arm sling!

Just as everyone was settling in comfortably to wait for the pilot to get on board and fly the plane, the man appeared again. “Uncle! Uncle!” he hollered at me. (He was no spring chicken himself, calling me uncle!!!) Then, he blatantly ordered me out loud, “Uncle, you’re so fat…you sit on this side!” @#$%^&*!!!!!

I also took the plane once from Miri to Marudi. It was an uneventful flight and when the plane had landed, we all disembarked. The door of the aircraft would double as the staircase for boarding and disembarking…and there was a plastic-wrapped wire attached which could be used as a makeshift handrail. I had two bags so there was no way I could hold on to it as I got off the plane. Thus. I bounced down the steps one by one…and got off safely without tumbling over.

As I was walking to the terminal building, I noticed that the people were all looking somewhat amused. Then, I spotted my friends who were there to wait for me and they too were smiling. Curious, I asked them what was so funny. Imagine my indignation when they replied, “As you were walking down the steps of the plane, the wings flapped as if it was going to fly off,” and the two burst out laughing, unable to control themselves any longer.

And to add insult to injury, I was out browsing around the shops the other day when I spotted these…

Insult to injury

Omigawd!!! How could they? Call me fat, overweight, obese, XOS (extra-oversized), horizontally-challenged…or whatever you want but to call me a “lard’s bucket” is really pushing it too far! I think I’ll just go and kill myself. Bye-bye, cruel world…bye-bye! Sobssss!!!!!!