Over in the peninsula, they have the coconut tree-product, the gula Melaka or palm sugar. We have our own version – what we call the gula apong

Gula apong 1

…which came from the nipah palm that grows in abundance in the swamps in the lower reaches of the mighty Rejang River. The Chinese call it attap th’ng (sugar), attap being the palm leaves that people used to make thatched roofs in the days gone by.

It is a substitute for gula Melaka here when making those delicious Malay or nyonya kuihs (cakes) and I hear that some use it for one of the layers in the 3 or 4-layer tea…

Layer tea
*recycled pic*

…that seems to be the favourite of many.

I usually use it as a dip when eating boiled bandong or what is called ubi kayu  (tapioca/cassava) over in the peninsula…

Gula apong & tapioca

In the past, we would add lard to the gula apong but these days, lard is no longer readily available so we may use olive oil instead…or just eat it as it is.

I have also heard that the man at the Simpang Tiga stall here uses it to marinate his chicken wings and I must say that they taste really great! Very different from what we can get elsewhere and very very nice! They were only RM1.00 each a long time ago but it went up to RM1.50 and the last time I stopped by to buy – RM2.00. I wonder if the price has gone up since. Tsk! Tsk!

According to a seller at the market, the gula apong is getting scarce as young people are no longer interested in getting involved. If I’m not mistaken, the making may get a bit tedious as one would need to keep stirring it till it becomes thick…

Gula apong 2

…and that is no easy task, I assure you.

Actually, Quay Po bought a tub home when she was in town – I wonder what she has done with it so far. Well, the other day, I used it for this very nice tapioca dessert…

STP's tapioca dessert

I cut boiled tapioca into bite-size cubes and putting that in a bowl, I poured chilled milk into it and added gula apong. Ooooo…it was very nice! Perhaps you can use santan (coconut milk) or evaporated milk instead and if you have shaved ice, it may make it colder and nicer. I had to resist the urge to add a scoop of vanilla ice cream – bet that would taste great too…and I’m sure you can do the same with sweet potatoes or yam or have all three together and add some sago pearls as well to make some kind of bubur cacar. That would certainly be  a really yummy dessert, don’t you think?

The closer I get to you…

I had this once before

Taiwan Rice 1

…and I liked it a lot but that food court is on the other side of town and I don’t usually go there so that was the first and the last time I had that.

This one is a lot nearer to the town centre but the last time I was there during lunch hour, most of the stalls were cleaning up and closing shop for the day…and I did not quite like what I had then even though my missus enjoyed her zhao chai hung ngang very much.

Well, the other day, I was in the vicinity and I decided to drop by and browse around. Again, most of the stalls were closed for the day…and I bumped into that ex-student of mine and it seems that this latter place is some kind of a branch of the former – he runs both of these places or the drinks and some of the food stalls at least, including this small, not very appealing-looking one…

Food Courts Sibu 1

…that sells the nasi Taiwan (Taiwan rice) alongside bak kut teh and lo kaki khinzir (braised pork leg)…

Food Courts Sibu 2

I had not had lunch so I ordered the special Taiwan rice that I enjoyed so much the first time around and it was as good as ever.

I asked for a bit of the pork trotters to try but my ex-student said that they would have that pre-packed in servings and I could not have just a bit of it unless I went all the way to their other place. However, he gave me this bak kut teh soup…

Complimentary bkt soup

…with an egg in it.

The soup was very nice but it had an extra-strong herbal taste so if one is not used to that kind of Chinese herbal cuisine, then probably one would not like it. I thought it was very nice – definitely nicer than at this other place that my missus and I went to not  long ago…but I would prefer it to be a little toned down – just a little.

Now comes the best part! When I asked for the bill, my ex-student said that the meal was on him…so I’m not very sure about the prices. I think everything’s RM8.00 inclusive of rice and that is definitely cheaper than the aforementioned bak kut teh place and that huge and thick slab of pork belly…

Taiwan Rice 2

…would cost that much or more, I’m sure – uncooked!

I will definitely go back there again one of these days…as I’ve yet to try the kaki khindzir. Yum! Yum!!!

Those little things…

We call them bubuk here…and when I mentioned it on Facebook yesterday, somebody asked, “What’s bubuk?” Well, they are those very tiny little shrimps that seem to be seasonal. At certain times in a year, they may be found in abundance in the sea off the beaches of places like Bintulu in Sarawak…and the bountiful harvest would enable to locals to make belacan (fermented prawn paste) and cincaluk (fermented shrimps). If I’m not mistaken, they are also found in the peninsula and they are called udang geragau there.

Other than the aforementioned uses, bubuk is also dried and sold at the market looking like this…


I do recall them being of a darker shade of red in the past but I guess people are more health-conscious now so they do not bother to dye them anymore. They can be used as a substitute for udang kering or hay bee (dried prawns) in one’s cooking – a poor man’s substitute, I would say as they are relatively a lot cheaper. I, for one, will use bubuk when cooking my kampung-style fried rice.

These were the ingredients that I used…

STP's kampung-style fried rice - ingredients

– some shallots and garlic, peeled and sliced, some chilies, sliced and a bit of ikan pusu/bilis (dried anchovies). In the past, I would chop the garlic till fine but of late, I prefer to use them sliced. Sometimes, when eating, I may bite into the fried garlic…and I actually love the taste very much.

So what I did was…I fried the shallots, garlic and anchovies in oil till golden brown before I added the bubuk – you may need a bit more oil as it may soak up the oil like when you make sambal udang kering…and after stirring everything together for a while, I put in the sliced chilies and the rice. After frying for a while, I added a bit of light soy sauce/fish sauce and msg before I broke two eggs into the wok and fried them together with everything else till they were cooked. Then it was ready to be served…

STP's kampung fried rice with bubuk 1

In the past, I would just throw in the bubuk after I had fried everything else…or maybe before I added the eggs but this time around, I decided to fry it in the oil first expecting it to taste a lot nicer but frankly, I could not really tell the difference…

STP's kampung fried rice with bubuk 2

Either way, the fried rice tasted great. Wink! Wink!

Perhaps you would like to give it a try?

With a little bit o’luck…

I am a simple man, a simple old man…living a simple life, a simple and ordinary life…with a roof over my head and I drive an old 1.3 1st-generation Proton Wira. People have often asked me why I would not get myself a new, more impressive and flashy car. Well, I don’t see the need to as the old jalopy still serves me very well – at least, it gets me from one place to another (and like I told my blogger visitors, Sibu is so small – every place is about a hundred metres away) and it does not cause me any problems at all…and for someone my age, there isn’t much left for me to flash, is there?

The other day, however, somebody reversed right into the back of my poor car – stationary and parked out of harm’s way (Not quite, obviously!), and broke the taillight, left side…

As good as new

Now, don’t those VERY impressive and VERY flashy CRVs have sensors that will beep like nobody’s business when one is reversing and getting close to something? Tsk! Tsk! How did I respond to that? I was so distressed that all I could do was to exclaim mournfully, “Aduhai! Aduhai!!!! Kesian my kereta tua!!! Jangan lah keep banging the poor thing!!!” (This was the 3rd time, by the way! Same position, same situation!)

Well, to cut a long story short, I had the light replaced – RM45 only. What do you expect? It’s a Malaysian car and it’s a made-in-Malaysia spare part. I wouldn’t have got away that cheaply had it been one of those expensive “impressive and flashy” cars. The bumper is not really aligned…

Not really aligned

…but it does not matter as long as it is not about to drop off or anything.

I guess somebody up there was watching me that very same afternoon when I was coming out of the shop after buying a ticket – RM2 only…in the hope that a little bit o’luck may come my way after that unexpected stroke of misfortune. There, right outside the shop, I saw a man, armless, sitting by the pavement (never saw him around before) begging for alms and without a second thought, I gave him all the change I had in my hand…and as they say, what goes around comes around and it most certainly did. That night, when I checked the draw results, this was what I saw…

With a little bit o' luck

Lo and behold! My car number came out 3rd prize……and for RM2, I would get RM1K and that would more than enough to cover the cost of the new taillight.

I went to claim the money the other day and as it was not a draw day, there was only one counter open – the sole non-Chinese lady in that shop that I frequent. To me, she always seemed very sad – I had never seen her smile and all the time,  she would just sit there doing her work – I guess she could not converse or socialise with the other ladies as they would be speaking Mandarin, all of them being Chinese. But after she had passed me the money, I took RM10 from the lot and gave it to her, saying, “Kasi awak minum kopi (for you to drink coffee),” and for the first time ever, I saw her smiling and I swore I could see tears welling in her eyes…and somehow, at that point in  time, I felt a nice feeling deep inside and I smiled back at her and left…

Of course, I am not expecting to strike again just because of what I did but the thing is I do believe that sometimes in the course of a long and dreary day, plodding on and on doing a thankless job just for that little bit of money at the end of the month to put food on the table…

Mee Daddy curry flavour

…and make end’s meet, it may get a person down and a little gesture that may not mean much to us may go a long way to make that someone’s life a little better…if only for a moment. Ever so often, I have heard or read all the rantings, all the criticisms, all the cursing and swearing at the people at the service counters in government offices, banks and places like that…and I do believe that if everybody is nicer to them, some, if not all, will surely reciprocate. Don’t you think so?

All kinds of everything…

I know, I know… I’ve been blogging about all kinds of ways to fry all kinds of noodles and I’m sure many of you would be quite sick of the mere sight of it by now…

STP's mee kari goreng 1

Well, this is going to be the last one, hopefully…and I only did it because Gratitude said that he fried noodles using the wet paste that he bought from the market so I would like to give it a try as well since I had half a packet of curry paste left in the freezer.

Well, the ingredients used included the following:
1 kg yellow noodles
Half a packet of instant curry paste (A1 Mountain Globe brand)
1 Bombay onion, sliced of chopped
1 stalk serai (lemon grass), bruised at the end
2 sprigs curry leaves
1 chili (or more), sliced
Some prawns
Two eggs
Some taugeh (bean sprouts)

STP's mee kari goreng 2

I fried the onions in some oil till soft and added the serai and curry leaves after which, in went the curry paste. Stir well to mix it with the other ingredients and keep stirring till the fragrance comes out nice and strong. Then, I added the prawns and actually, I had a slice of tau kua (bean curd cake) so I cut it into small slices and threw that in as well. Lastly, I added the sliced chilies before putting in the noodles to fry.

After frying for quite a bit, I broke the eggs and added them to the noodles. Keep stirring until the eggs are cooked and then, put in the tau geh. I just stirred a bit to mix everything together nicely – there is no need to keep cooking for too long so that the tau geh would not be overcooked and would still be nice and crunchy.

Dish everything out and serve…

STP's mee kari goreng 3

You may want to add some salt and msg, according to taste or even (light) soy sauce  if you prefer it to be saltier but I felt it was good enough as it was and one would be able to sense and appreciate the exotic tastes of the many ingredients in it.

So, there you have it – another way to fry your noodles. As it appears, they’re certainly very versatile and can go well with all kinds of everything…but I have the feeling that cooked this way, it probably would be nicer with mihun. What do you all think?


When my NZ friend came to Sibu last year, she bought some instant noodles to take home. Actually, they can get them very easily over there but I guess they would cost a bit more. My missus slipped into her suitcase two packets of the made-in-Sibu Mee Daddy – chicken and curry flavour, each containing 5 of these…

Mee Daddy old packaging
*My NZ friend’s photo from her Facebook album*

Of course she was not in the least excited about them at the time but when she got home and cooked one – the curry flavour…

S's Mee Daddy curry flavour
*My NZ friend‘s Mee Daddy curry flavour (taken from her Facebook album)*

…she went wild and fell head over heels in love with it.

She did not even know then that it was made in Sibu and was quite annoyed when I told her that. She said had she known about it then, she would have gone to the factory and bought in bulk. But then again, since she had not tried it at the time, even if I had told her that it was made in Sibu, she probably would not give two hoots about it.

Actually, when they first started producing the noodles here in Sibu, my brother and his family loved the chicken-flavoured version a lot and every time they came back, they would bring one whole big carton home. I do not see them doing that lately – probably they have grown tired of it or they have found better brands over there, I wouldn’t know…or perhaps it is because it can be such a hassle bringing food into New Zealand and any egg product (e.g. noodles) is not allowed…but they may be a bit lenient if something is factory-made and packed and all.

I bought some for Quay Po too the other day and I noticed that the curry-flavoured ones now come in a colourful brand new packaging…

New Mee Daddy Kari 1

…and yes, it is indicated on the pack that the noodles are made in Sibu…

New Mee Daddy Kari 2

I bought them for RM3.20 so that would work out to 65 sen a packet which is cheaper than what they used to cost but is still more expensive than some the brands available here.

New Mee Daddy Kari 3

Yes, they may taste a bit better…but there are others that come pretty close and are cheaper (less than 60 sen each) so more often than not, I would just go for those brands. Frankly, I just can’t understand why they are manufactured right here in Sibu itself and they would not need to worry about packaging and freight charges and all that so by right, they should be cheaper. If it had been so, then perhaps some people would consider eating that 365 days a year – hari-hari kari

New Mee Daddy Kari 4

…but unfortunately, that is not the case.

Not like that…

I first heard of es teler, an Indonesian dessert/drink, when Lily, Cibol’s wife mentioned it when they were in town. She said that she liked it a lot but unfortunately, I did not know of any place here in Sibu where we can get that. Then, the other day, I saw on the food channel on television an eatery in Singapore named after the dessert and I saw them making some kind of banana dessert and I decided to give it a try.

I took two bananas and cut them into halves…

STP's pisang bakar 1

…and greasing the pan with a bit of butter, I grilled the flat side of the bananas first till they had turned slightly brown.

Then I turned them over and put a slice of cheddar cheese on one side…

STP's pisang bakar 2

…and some chocolate spread on the other.

What I saw them doing on tv was they sprinkled some grated cheese on one side and some chocolate rice on the other…and when done, they sandwiched the two halves together and served.

Well, when I thought mine was already done, I sat down to give it a try…

STP's pisang bakar 3

I don’t know what the real thing tastes like but I did not think mine was great. One reason could be because of the variety of banana that I used which was not sweet and a little bit sourish…and perhaps, if I had sprinkled some cinnamon powder and served it with ice cream, it would be a lot nicer…and if you look at this recipe, they add condensed milk. Humph!!! I didn’t get to see that on that show on television. Tsk! Tsk!

Hmmmm…never mind, no harm trying…and I’ll definitely try again in the hope that I may be able to come out with a nice banana dessert.

I did contact smallkucing‘s papa who is an expert in Indonesian cuisine as he spends a lot of time there…and he told me that this is simply called pisang bakar or grilled bananas and es teler is their version of our ABC (air batu campur).

She’s not impressed…

This place has been around for many years and it used to be very popular but not anymore. It used to be so very crowded  that at one time, it was difficult to get a seat there but not anymore. I used to love what they served there and my daughter loved the noodles but in my case, not anymore…

@KpgDatu BKT shop

My missus and I stopped by for lunch after the church service last Sunday and I didn’t realise that she had never been there before. My daughter and I had eaten here a few times before – I guess that would be during those days when the mother was working and the two of us were left to our own devices and had to look for our own lunch.

I had the bak kut teh – I can’t remember exactly but this was RM6.00, I think it was, with a few chunks of bone swimming in the soup…

KpgDatu BKT

…and rice was served separately at RM2.50 a bowl. If I wanted yeu char koi or yeu tiaw, it would be another RM2.50 for a little bowl of that.

My missus had the dry version of the bak kut teh (which used to cost RM8.00, can’t remember how much it is now)…

KpgDatu dry BKT

…and not only did I have to fork out the money for the rice but for the soup to go with it, that was another RM2.50. Tsk! Tsk!

So what was my missus’ impression – seeing that this was her first time at that place?  Well, she wasn’t in the least impressed, unfortunately – as a matter of fact, she thought what we had here was so much nicer…and a lot cheaper too!

For one thing, I must say that everything looks a whole lot nicer in the pictures…

KpgDatu seafood BKT

…and it seems that now, they sell zhao chai hung ngang too – RM4.50 for fish and RM6.00 for prawn…and that would be very cheap if one would be getting exactly what they portray in the photographs on the wall but judging from what we had that day, I reckon it would be safer to just go and try one’s luck elsewhere…

Your smiling face…

I went to town last Sunday afternoon as I had something to do. You see with all the nice and happy visitors that I had, I was thinking that from all the positive vibes, Lady Luck would be smiling on me. I parked my car and went about doing what I had to do and in just a couple of minutes, I was on my way back to the vehicle. Before I could get to it, a car drove into the parking space beside mine.

No, no…I don’t have a problem with that. In fact, the problem was mine, all mine. You see, I had parked, still within the parking space, a bit too much to the right and the lady had parked a bit too much to the left so it was virtually impossible for me to get into the driver’s seat. After she had got out of her car, I asked her if she would take a long time to do whatever she was going to do and she said no…so I said it was all right then, I would just wait a while for her, no worries!

She took a bit longer than I had anticipated but it was perfectly okay by me. After all, it was a Sunday afternoon and I had nothing planned and had all the time in the world so I was in no hurry whatsoever. Finally, she emerged from the shop where she had gone to tapao (takeaway) some packets of chicken rice. I looked at her, wanting to smile at her as a gesture of appreciation that  she did not take too long and she would be driving off in a jiffy and I would be able to get into my  car but not only did she look quite unhappy…

Sad face

…but she did not even bother to look in my direction as she walked past right in front of me as if I were invisible.

What is the world coming to, I wondered? I remember the time when people were all very cordial, very warm and amicable even to people they did not know – after all, it does not cost anything, does it? What’s wrong with just flashing a smile? Usually, when in such a situation, the people concerned would smile at one another and maybe, carry out some small talk. Perhaps one would say, “Banyaknya beli?” (Buying so much?) and the other would probably reply jokingly, “Yalor! Semua si-rangkak kat rumah!” (All the greedy people at home!) which, of course, is not meant to be taken seriously and both would laugh and go their separate ways, feeling tickled and happy inside. Perhaps people don’t do that anymore these days and have this tendency to eye the others with utter distrust or suspicion?

I noticed that the car next to hers had parked more to the left as well (also within the parking space) so it was not that easy for her to get into her car and of course, she could manage as she was neither my shape nor my size…but there was another vacant parking space after that car which made me wonder why she did not park her car in that one. I suppose that would mean she would have to walk the additional distance of an extra two parking spaces to get to where she was going…and that’s one thing many would not want to do. If they could, they would drive right into the shop to buy what they want. Just look at all those (luxury/big) cars parked illegally by the side of the narrow roads or on the pavement right outside the coffee shops in town and you’ll get what I mean.


Or perhaps the lady had a load on her mind  and that probably was why she did not bother at all to smile and try to be friendly to one of her fellow-human beings. After all, life today, it seems, is like a pressure cooker, so stressful that each individual is like a walking time-bomb…about to explode any minute now.

Come! Go ahead, make someone’s day! Smile…and the whole world smiles with you. It will do wonders, believe you me.

Turn me on…

I can’t remember when it was but it was many many years ago when I was in KL on one of my working trips. My nephew and his housemate who happened to be my ex-student, both singles at the time, came and took me out and for supper, they brought me to a mamak stall somewhere in PJ, insisting that I tried the mee Maggi goreng…

STP's Maggi mee goreng 1

…and I did. I thought it was all right but it certainly did not turn me on – not something that would get me craving and dying to have again.

For the uninitiated, over here, when people say Maggi mee, they actually mean instant noodles and not necessarily of that particular brand. Since it was one of the earliest brands on the market, the name has somehow got stuck and is liberally used to refer to noodles of the same kind, never mind what brand…like how people say pampers when talking about disposable diapers for babies or Colgate for any toothpaste and so on.

Anyway, I saw a post in Isaac‘s friend’s blog on how to cook “Maggi goreng” and I was wondering if there was something that I missed. Is it really that good? Perhaps I should give it another try…and I did! So, the other morning, I prepared the ingredients…

STP's Maggi mee goreng - ingredients

…and never one to stick to the basics, I added some prawns and sliced fresh chili as well.

After frying the sliced garlic and onions in a bit of oil till they turned brown, I added the prawns and mixed them with the other ingredients until they were cooked before I threw in the sliced chili and the noodles (2 packets) that I had boiled till soft and rinsed in cold tap water so that they would not stick together. Then I emptied the sachet of curry (use 1 only) seasoning into the wok and mixed everything together thoroughly. Lastly, I broke an egg and fried it together with everything else and after stirring for a while, the noodles were ready to be served…

STP's Maggi mee goreng 2

Unfortunately, it still did not get me jumping up and down with delight. Somehow, I feel that there are many other things that I would prefer.

Incidentally, if I remember correctly, somebody did ask me once how much oil I used to fry my noodles or was it rice? Well, not much – maybe two to three spoons, just enough to brown the garlic and the onions. Keep stirring regularly and sometimes, the noodles or rice may stick to the wok a little bit but that is not a  problem. After adding the egg and mixing it with everything in the wok and scraping off whatever may be stuck, it will all come off very easily and in the end, you will have a nice clean wok like mine…

STP's clean wok

Somehow, I never had any problem with things sticking to it when I cook. Perhaps, you did not heat it up till it was hot enough before you started throwing in the ingredients?…