Gotta stop…

Last week, when school was closing for the holidays, I had to drive all the way to pick my daughter from her school in Selangau and bring her home so I grabbed the opportunity to stop by the market in that little town along the way as the previous weekend, I wanted to buy some of the exotic meat usually available there but there was none that day.

One thing that impressed me a lot at the market was the public toilet there…

SPT 1
*20 sen per entry*

For one thing, it was really very clean – no smell at all which would be more than what I can say about many of the toilets in the big towns and cities in the country.

The other thing would be the fact that everytime I went, there would not be anybody holding the fort but amazingly, everyone using the toilet would leave the money on the counter and even the money in the basket could be left there just like that…

SPT 2

I do not think it would be there for long if it had been one of the toilets in those bigger places.

Well, I did manage to get hold of some of the meat that day so I was able to cook it and give to papakucing for him to enjoy…

BH masak kicap

This one is slow-cooked with soy sauce, garlic, pepper and sugar added. I did not cook the soup one as it would be hard to bring when travelling by air. That will just have to wait till the next time he comes over to Sibu, I’m afraid.

While I was in the town, I did stroll around to have a look at the stalls where they were selling all the ethnic handicrafts…and also those sold by the ladies sitting along the pavement outside the shops. Normally, you would not get to see them but the Gawai Dayak Festival was coming, so there were quite a few around. I bought this miniature ajat

ajat

– their traditional basket/backpack usually made of rattan but this one was made using beads. I thought it looked very nice and could not resist grabbing one and taking it home.

I also saw these bead necklaces…

Necklace

– I’ve long admired those traditional beads of the ethnic races and I’m sure many would agree with me when I say that they do look very pretty. There are those made with genuine antique ethnic beads but those would cost an arm or a leg – these are a lot cheaper…and never mind that it is not the real thing, I still feel that they look really great.

I don’t know how much they’re selling these things in the souvenir shops in the town…

Ethnic handicrafts

…but as far as I’m concerned, it does not really matter. I have the feeling that not many people would stop and buy these nice things from them so I hope in some small way, I had contributed a bit towards their celebration of the auspicious occasion.

When I was at Melissa’s school, I saw these bamboo tubes…

Bamboo

…that someone had got ready probably to cook the lemang or the pansuh for the feasting and merry-making in the longhouse on the eve which, incidentally, is tonight…as they herald the coming of the Gawai Dayak Festival Day that falls on the 1st of June.

Well, I guess it is only right and fitting to end this post by wishing all my friends and readers celebrating the Pesta Kamatan, the Harvest Festival in Sabah, today…and all those celebrating the Gawai Dayak Festival tomorrow, Selamat Hari Keamatan and Selamat Hari Gawai. Cheers!!!

Safe…

It certainly comes as no surprise that the Japanese were the first to come up with the idea of instant noodles, as we know them today – those workaholics and in today’s societies, instant noodles are a life saver for many – young students and working singles especially, with their tight and busy schedules or they are either too lazy to cook or they cannot cook…or it is simply not their kind of thing. Just look at all those shelves in any supermarket – that would bear testimony to the fact that they’re selling like hot cakes or so to speak.

However, there have been people dropping by my blog and saying that the noodles are coated with wax or whatever and we must boil the noodles first and then, drain away the water…and after that, we will have to cook the soup before putting the noodles back in to eat. Well, let us take a look at the ingredients…

Ingredients

I do not see wax mentioned anywhere – maybe it comes under “permitted food conditioners”, I wouldn’t know. I do not see monosodium glutamate being mentioned as well and I am pretty sure they contain a lot of that. It seems that they have diplomatically grouped that under “flavor enhancers”. Looking at the lists, it is quite obvious that the consumption of these things should be kept to the bare minimum…and not every day like it is a staple diet or something.

On my part, I am not too crazy about these noodles and that is why I will always have a lot of extras added – an egg, at least, to eat together with the noodles. Nonetheless, I always have some in the pantry to cook when the need arises, for instance, when there’s nothing in the fridge and nothing in the house that I can have for breakfast or it is raining heavily and I would rather not go out for dinner for fear of getting drenched and soaked to the skin. However, I usually do not bother to cook the noodles and drain away the water – I reckon that since I do not consume the stuff that frequently, just once in a while, it is all right – and the only time I would do that would be when I’m having the mee goreng variety. Come to think of it, this may be a wiser choice when it comes to instant noodles considering that you have no choice but to drain away the water that you cook the noodles in.

Other than the aforementioned, this is something that you can do as well which is to serve the noodles dry. What I did was to empty the sachet of seasoning onto a plate and the chili paste/oil that came with the particular flavour that I was cooking. Use only half the packet of seasoning or else it will be too salty and this, I would say, is a good thing as you would be reducing your intake of those so-called “permitted” ingredients. I added a bit of oil with which I had fried some sliced shallots to mix everything together and to facilitate the tossing of the noodles later. Needless to say, the oil would give the noodles that extra fragrance as well and would certainly bring the taste to a whole new level.

After cooking the noodles, I drained away the water and tossed them well with the ingredients. Nope, I did not bother to rinse the noodles under the tap and putting them back into the boiling water to heat them up again…but you may do that if you want. Once the noodles were ready, I fried an egg to go with it and served…

Mee Daddy, curry flavour & egg

Was it good? Well, I would say it was…and a welcome change from the usual soupy version.

As for how much safer this is, I don’t really know – probably a bit…but whatever it is, as with everything else, moderation is the key.

Just one last time…

It wasn’t really great the first time…nor was it the second time even though it was a little bit better. My missus tried the third packet and she did not like it either. There being 4 packets in the pack, I had one packet left and I decided to cook it just one last time but a little bit differently this time around, hoping that it would help to make it better somewhat.

I emptied the sachet of chili paste onto a plate…and half of the seasoning – I reckoned it would be too salty if I were to use all of it. Since there wasn’t any oil provided, I added a teaspoon of my own and mixed everything together…

Seasoning & chili paste & oil

Then, I boiled the noodles (and the garnishes) till soft/cooked and drained away the water. I added some cold water to rinse them further and wash away any remaining trace of starch or wax or whatever. After that, I poured some boiling water into the pot to heat up the noodles again. Finally, I drained away the water and mixed the noodles with the ingredients I had ready in the plate and tossed everything together thoroughly…

CCN 1

Hey!!! It turned out to be very nice! The starchy/gooey feel (the texture of chili sauce) to it was still there but not as much. Perhaps that was because I only used half the packet of the seasoning provided. I cooked one half-boiled egg to go with it…but oops! I broke the yolk! Darn!!!

CCN 3

Never mind! It still tasted great…but at roundabout RM3.00 a packet, I guess I will not be having this again for a long, long time, I’m afraid…

Asian moon…

In my previous post, I blogged about the time when my missus and I went to Japan on a holiday. Well, actually, it was, more or less, a tour of the Far East, the Asian countries in that direction – starting, first of all, with Hong Kong…

HK

It was not so convenient to fly in those days and I remember we had to fly to Kuching and then, to Singapore, stopping there for a night in transit…but that was good in a way as we were able to shop for some winter clothing that we could use on the tour.

I did not really like Hong Kong. For one thing, they all spoke Cantonese at the time and when one could not speak the dialect, they suddenly turned inhospitable and not very friendly. I hear they’re much nicer now and are conversant in English…but I wouldn’t know as I have not been there since.

We landed at Kai Tak (that was the airport at the time) in Kowloon and went via the undersea tunnel to the island. I remember going via cable car to Ocean Park and there was this place called the Sung Village…

HK - SV

…and we dropped by the ATV studios as well…

HK - ATV

My missus was an avid fan of those Cantonese series from Hong Kong on videotapes at the time and would watch every single episode without fail.

Next, we flew to Taiwan and we had the good fortune of bumping into the young and very handsome, Kris Philips, better known as Fei Xiang

T - FX

Of course, he’s old and shrivelled now…and the last I heard of him, there were rumours saying that he was having a gay relationship with (Steven) Liu Wen Chen.

I quite liked it in Taiwan…

T

…as the people there were all Hokkien-speaking, the Chinese dialect that I am most proficient in…even though theirs was a little bit different but despite that, we were able to manage very well which, unfortunately, was not the case when we went to Seoul, Korea after a few days in Taiwan…

K1

I remember shopping there and because there was this communication breakdown, I just put all my money on the counter and let them take what I should pay for whatever I was buying – the people there were very nice and polite though.

K2

It was December and as you can see from the photographs, the further north we went, the colder it became…

K3

…and from Korea, we flew to Japan.

Flying there was not a problem as there were stops along the way but we flew back all the way from Tokyo on 18th December, 1983 and it was such a terribly long flight. Then, as we were descending at Subang, the airport in KL at the time, suddenly the pilot aborted his initial intention to land and the aircraft turned quickly and started picking up speed and flying upwards again. There was an announcement on board – something about a crash…but that probably was a slip of the tongue. All enquiries after that were accorded very vague and evasive replies. Eventually, we were diverted to Penang and had to wait there for hours and hours till the wee hours of the morning before we resumed our flight to KL. As we landed, we saw the unfortunate aircraft (a MAS Airbus A300, Flight 684 from Singapore) that had landed before ours and crashed – the whole top part of the plane had gone missing! Gee! That was scary!!!

I can’t remember how we flew back from KL – whether it was via Singapore and Kuching or through Kuching…or whether we already had direct flights from KL to Sibu at the time. Whatever it was, we sure were glad we got home in one piece, praise the Lord!

Tokyo drift…

My blogger-friend, [SK], was surprised when I said that I had been to Tokyo before. He reckoned that I would only go to those ang moh (western) countries which was definitely untrue. My missus and I went there in December, 1983. Gosh!!! That was 30 years ago…and of course, I looked very young then…

TJ
*Tokyo Ginza*

…and was a lot slimmer too!

Japan 1

We went to Osaka, Kyoto, Hakone…

Japan 2

…and even up the slopes of Mount Fuji where there was snow…

Japan 3

It was winter then so of course, the weather was quite cold…and then, we took the bullet train to Tokyo, just to get the experience.

Now, what was the memorable moment during that whole trip? Well, they had a minus-one karaoke machine on the tour bus and our tour guide, a young and sweet Japanese lady, couldn’t really sing. She claimed that Japanese ladies couldn’t sing as well as the men as the guys would go drinking and sing their hearts’ out after work but not the ladies. Anyway, to cut a long story short, she was indeed stunned, so pleasantly surprised, that I could sing this Japanese song. Nope, I did not sing this English cover nor an earlier one by a duo called The Blue Diamonds (My first lonely night alone). It was a hit in the 50’s or 60’s and I knew the words by heart, more or less like how many young people can sing Korean K-pop songs these days but do not know what the lyrics mean. Well, she was so impressed that we were given special VIP treatment for the rest of the tour…and when she sent us off at the airport, she even gave me a goodbye kiss – everyone else in the group was green with envy!

And of course, I can remember very well the day we spent here…

TD, Japan
*Tokyo Disneyland*

It was so nice – all the smiles, the happiness all around. We certainly had a tremendously wonderful time there.

And just in case you’re thinking that I can only sing one Japanese song, [SK], I’m afraid you’re wrong there too. I can sing this one too…

LOL!!!

Flicker…

I wonder how everyone uploads their photos for use in their blogs. When I first started blogging, I did not have any photographs and of course, everyone grumbled and complained so I had no choice but to try to comply and finally, I managed to have a snapshot in my blogpost.

I was uploading the photos onto my own blog ‘s media gallery though and somebody told me not to do it as they would take up much space and suggested that I used flickr instead. Of course, I did not know how to go about it – uploading photographs onto flickr, that is, but eventually, after much trial and error, I was able to do so and since then, there has been no turning back.

Just the other day, after all these years, there was a change in flickr’s outlook – the layout and general appearance…

F1

…and I must say that it sure looks very much nicer now.

The banner/cover photo is nicer too and the photostream as well…

F2

I’m not sure right now how I can edit the names/captions of the photographs but I am sure I would be able to work it out somehow.

The uploading process is still that same. You just pick the ones you would like to upload and add…

F3

…and the uploading process is pretty much the same as it was before this…

F4

…but if I can recall correctly, it was different before this one that I am now very familiar with.

Once you’ve uploaded the photograph, you can pick the size that you prefer for use in your blogpost…

F5

For one thing, I noticed that they now give 1 terabyte free, whatever that is. I guess that would be more than what we used to enjoy in the past without having to pay for our own personal account.

At the beginning, everyone was also complaining that my photos were too small and blur and they could not see anything. Good grief! Were they blind or what? Tsk! Tsk! Never mind! I do not use my old handphone camera any longer and with the digital cameras that I have used before and am using now plus the fact that I now know how to enhance my photographs a little, I guess they are big and clear enough…so I don’t think anybody has any cause for complaint anymore. Right or not?

Soft…

The other day, I was given these homemade steamed paos (buns)…

homemade

They were so very generous with the filling and as far as the filling went, it was absolutely delicious – the best I had ever eaten. Unfortunately, the skin was not really as soft and fluffy as I would have liked it.

A few days later, while I was in the vicinity of Rejang Park, I passed by one of the shops – the one in the corner where they fry and sell tee-piang (a Foochow delicacy) in the morning and they close pretty early as everything gets sold out very fast…and I noticed that they had some steamed paos for sale so I bought some to try.

RP paos

The skin was nicer – not bad at all…

RP pao 1

…while the filling, though not tasty as the homemade ones that I had and of course, there was much less inside, it was quite good and I love paos that have egg in them…

Well, I guess one can’t expect much for RM1.60 each. My favourite is still the ones here but I have not gone to buy for a while now. It was RM2.70 each the last time I bought some – I wonder if they have increased the price since. Sigh!!!!!

Angels brought me here…

Bidadari means “angel” in Malay and that is the name of this new bakery in town…

BC

– or at least, I only noticed it lately since I’ve been driving up and down that road quite a bit these days. It is among the blocks of shops  right next to the Star Mega Mall here – you will get to it first if you are coming down from the airport and I am pretty sure you will not miss it as you can see it from the main road.

The Gawai Dayak Festival is just around the corner…so, those of you who are celebrating, have you bought all you need yet? And those of you who are thinking what to get for your friends who will be celebrating, you may want to drop by here as there are shelves and shelves of all kinds of cookies…

Cookies

…going cheap for the occasion. I saw on one shelf a price tag that stated the original price as RM25.00 a jar but it was selling for RM15.00, their special Gawai offer…and I saw on another shelf, jars of goodies that only cost RM10.00.

In their fridge, they have the celebrated kek lapis Sarawak in an array of colours including these rolls…

KLS - rolls

…that cost only RM20 each. There is a bakery selling these on the other side of town and the last time I bought some there, I paid RM25 for one.

The cakes don’t come cheap as you can see…

KLS - whole

…but you do not have to buy them whole. You can choose to buy the cut-up ones instead…

KLS - cut

…and that way, you can have a variety – all the different types instead of a lot of just one or two of them. Don’t you think the watermelon on the top right looks just like the fruit?

Well, in case you simply cannot make up your mind since there are so many for you to choose from, don’t worry! You can try the samples that are made available for  you…

KLS - samples

I like the chocolate mint best – the green and brown layered one on the left but the black one in the middle wins hands down! That is the hitam manis (black sweet) and it is so soft, so rich, so flavourful that it swept me off my feet. I loved it!!! If you buy the whole cake, it is RM90.00 each, a bit cheaper than those colourful ones.

Ummm…Teachers’ Day has just gone past on the 16th of May, right? Hint! Hint!!! As they always say, better late than never! LOL!!!

All this time…

I’ve been cooking fried rice all this time in so many different kinds of ways but I never got round to using the bumbu (seasoning)…

NGRASI

…that my blogger friend, Mery Sia, gave me quite sometime ago – in December last year, if I remember correctly.

Well, the other day, I decided to do just that…and looking at the packet, the cooking instructions certainly seemed real simple…

Cooking instructions

…but not being one to follow recipes or in this case, instructions, I decided to go about it my own way. These were the ingredients that I used…

Ingredients

– the usual suspects – the sliced shallots, garlic and fresh chili, a spoonful of my missus’ pounded cili padi dip and two stalks from my very skinny serai (lemon grass) plant…and also some prawns and two eggs.

As always, I fried the shallots and garlic in a bit of oil till golden brown before throwing in the prawns and the sliced and pounded chili. Once cooked, I added the rice and then, I added half a packet of the seasoning. I had scrutinised the contents and I saw that there was msg – that was why I decided not to use so much. After all, with all the extra ingredients, I am sure the fried rice would be nice enough already. I kept stirring till it was sufficiently fried and finally, I put in two eggs and mixed them with the rice thoroughly.

Once done, I dished out the fried rice – my version of the nasi goreng rasa ayam spesial Indonesia…

NGRASI 1

…and served…

NGRASI 2

It was nice but I think my other ways of cooking fried rice are just as good or perhaps, even better. Thanks, anyway, Merywaty – it certainly was so thoughtful of you to remember me and give me that to try.

Many ways…

Lemang is glutinous rice with santan (coconut milk) and salt cooked in bamboo tubes lined with banana leaves. These tubes are made to stand beside an open fire to cook the contents inside. Obviously, this  is not all that easy to do as if it is overcooked, the lemang would be brownish and hard and would not be nice at all – it would have to be just right.

Once it is done, the bamboo is split open to reveal the long cylindrical rolls of lemang inside. This has been cut into lengths of around three inches for sale at RM2.00 each…

Lemang

Yes, it is not all that cheap but then, glutinous rice isn’t all that cheap these days and as I have said earlier, the preparation and cooking of the lemang to perfection needs a lot of attention and can be rather tedious.

Traditionally, lemang is eaten with rendang or serunding

L & S

Well, for the uninitiated, serunding is actually floss and in this particular case, beef. This one that I bought the other day (RM7.00) was reddish in colour…

Serunding

…so that would give you an idea how spicy it was. Ooooo…I loved it!!!

Rendang is some kind of dry curry but I did not have that the other day to eat with the lemang. However, it so happened that my missus was cooking some satay beef that day itself…

Satay beef

…and it went absolutely well with the lemang

Lemang & satay beef

Yum! Yum!

Well, if you do not have these to go with your lemang, it is also nice with condensed milk or kaya (coconut jam)…or even with a bit of sugar, take your pick!