Let the sunshine in…

It has been raining a great deal here in Sarawak and some areas have been flooded rather badly including the Selangau district where my girl’s school is located. Thankfully, hers has been spared and most parts of Sibu as well except for some sections mainly due to the poor drainage in the vicinity and the horrendously heavy downpours that we have been getting lately.

Hopefully, this excessively wet weather will not drag on till Chinese New Year as there are many things to be done and we do need a lot of sunshine if we were to sun and air the carpets prior to laying them out, for instance, or dry the keropok (prawn crackers)…

Drying
*Photo taken using mobile phone camera*

Thankfully, the sun came out the other day and I quickly put out the ones that I got from my Trengganu friends right away. My girl loves these dark ones from the East Coast of Peninsula Malaysia and I had already fried one of the two packets they gave me, the one from Kelantan – this second one is from Trengganu.

To fry them, one would need to heat up the wok till it is really hot and then fill it with cooking oil, just the amount needed, and wait till it is hot enough. If it is not hot enough, when you drop in the keropok, it will not expand and rise to the occasion and turn nice and crispy. I’ve been told that with sufficient drying in the sun, it will turn out even better.

Anyway, a lot in the pack were broken so I saved the whole ones and those that were bigger for Chinese New Year and fried the smaller bits and pieces…

Trengganu keropok

…to try. Personally, I find these Trengganu ones very good too – I loved the nice fragrance and taste of the fish and that is the quality we would look for in keropok that would differentiate the men from the boys, so to speak. Some are all flour with loads of salt and msg and hardly any fish or prawn or sotong (squid) flavour – those aren’t good and not worth putting out for guests to enjoy. One thing that I noticed was that they were sliced a lot more thinly than the usual and I actually liked that as well.

I wonder if you all do this at your end. Here, for our Chinese New Year open houses, other than the cakes and cookies and the bak kua, cashew nuts and all kinds of nuts and kuaci (melon seeds) and everything else plus our best own-cooked dishes, should we be thus inclined, we would have keropok as well in one huge cream crackers tin or Tupperware along with the must-have to go with it – the acar timun (cucumber pickle)…

Keropok & acar

My mother-in-law used to make very nice acar and every year, without fail, she would give us one BIG Nescafe bottle, maybe two but she is old now and she doesn’t make it anymore. Last year, I saw on Facebook that my ex-student’s mum was making for sale so I told him I would like to buy a bottle…

Hong's mum's acar

…but when he came home for the festival (from Penang), he delivered it to my house and would not receive payment for it. Such a sweet boy!

Yes, his mum’s acar was really good, just like my mother-in-law’s, so I asked him if I could buy two bottles this year and yes, he said he had informed his mum and she would be reserving two for me. He would send them over to my house, he said, and he had paid his mum for them – the two would be gifts from him to me. Awwwwww!!!!! Some of my boys are so very thoughtful and nice, really.

I have a lot of packets of keropok in the house, actually. This one came from my cousin in Bintulu, homemade…

From Bintulu 1

..and these were from my brother-in-law, also in Bintulu and also homemade…

From Bintulu 2

…and this packet of the Mukah ones was given to us by my sister-in-law when she was home sometime ago from Kuching…

Mukah keropok

…probably the same ones that they would usually serve at this restaurant here

Mukah keropok, served

I wonder if my ex-student’s mum would like one of these…or maybe, I would go out and buy some nice cakes or cookies to give to them….in line with our adat or custom. When people give us something, we would need to balas or give something in return. In Hokkien, we call it lay sor (manners) – never mind, big or small as long as something is given to reciprocate. Of course, it need not be right away, though it would be good if it could be so. One may choose to balas at some later time as and when the opportunity arises.