I who have nothing…

In Hokkien, we always say khiaw koi hay. Translated, it means “poorer than a prawn”, the equivalent of “As poor as a church mouse” in English.  In my younger days, I was wondering why a prawn and not something else and I was told that it was because the prawn had nothing in its body, no bones. Hmmm…but it would have its very nice, sweet and succulent meat, wouldn’t it? That would more than make up for the lack of a skeleton. Later, I figured out that probably khiaw there sounded the same as “crooked” or “bent”, the same sound as the word for “poor” and that could be it especially seeing how it would curl up when cook.

Another often-heard phrase in Hokkien would be boh hu, hay ya hor, literally meaning “no fish, prawn also can”. That is kind of degrading for the prawn as the implication is that it is second best or something you would have to settle for when you can’t find something else when in actual fact, the crustacean is much more expensive and a lot tastier than many kinds of fish.

The prices of prawns (and fish…and everything else) soared round the time before Chinese New Year with the sellers putting the blame on everything – the rain, the flood, GST or whatever, except themselves. What I was told was that they would deep freeze their stock, the best that they had, to take out right before the festival day…and reap a bountiful harvest.

My missus could not get any at the market to make her ngor hiang (golden meat rolls) – I know some people add fish (bay ka or mackerel/ikan tenggiri) but she would add prawns to the meat filling for a better texture and taste…so I went to check out this place in Ulu Sungai Merah in the vicinity of the Wonderful Supermarket and Departmental Store where this hawker centre is and I managed to get hold of some…

Frozen packs of prawns

…frozen in blocks of ice in their respective plastic container.

Selling at only RM30 a kg for such huge ones…

Prawns, defrosted

…I thought they were cheap compared to the prices at the market in  town. There were round about 20 inside so it worked out to around RM1.00 each. I also bought another pack at RM45.00 a kg and those were even bigger, around 10-12 only in one pack…but my missus said they were not the ones she was looking for. These extra-large ones, she said, would be the ones used for those very popular dishes at restaurants such as their butter prawns for one…and it would be a waste to use them for her ngor hiang. She wanted those small ones that go for around RM15 a kg instead. Well, she did manage to grab hold of some for her use eventually…and there I was, stuck with the frozen packs of prawns in the freezer.

I used one around Chinese New Year for my fried noodles and I gave the pack with the bigger ones to my girl to bring to her school for her steamboat with her colleagues on Chap Goh Meh. That meant that I had one pack left – the one in the photos above, so I decided cook something for our own Chap Goh Meh dinner at home and finish it all off .

I got hold of some nasi lemak sambal from one stall at the Medan Mall, Jalan Wong King Huo. I’ve tried it before and found that it was very nice, just not spicy…and I fried one Bombay onion, finely-chopped, with a stalk of serai (lemon grass), bruised, in a bit of oil before adding the prawns, heads and shell removed leaving the tails, and once cooked, I added a can of petai (stinky beans), Ayam Brand and this was what I dished out…

Sambal prawns with petai

The canned petai, of course, was nowhere near as nice as the fresh ones one may get at the market and no, I would not say it was the best sambal prawns with petai that I’ve had but it was good enough, not too bad at all…and the best part was that it was almost hassle-free.

Stay tuned for more on our Chap Goh Meh dinner coming right up!

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

12 thoughts on “I who have nothing…”

  1. I’ve not come across canned petai in my life. That’s something new to me. Can we bring them overseas? Will they allow this to enter Australia? My friend there would love it!

    Ayam Brand. Manufactured over at your side. My sis bought one for my mum and I tried – thought it was pretty good, not soft/soggy like canned peanuts and the stinky smell is still there but of course, slightly off, nothing like fresh raw petai, can’t expect the exact same thing since it’s canned…plus the petai from your side is not as smelly as the ones here, dunno why, nicer – that was why I first learnt to eat it at hotel buffets on my working trips. My mum used to soak in water and eat slowly…all by herself and we would grumble and grumble about the horrible smell. Now, I love it! 😀 😀 😀

    As far as I know, canned, factory-packed stuff…all not a problem but would have to declare to go through customs.

  2. I am wondering…is a crayfish and a prawn the same thing?

    Nope. Crayfish is another name for a lobster – hard to get here and mighty expensive…and not as nice, just the snob appeal.

  3. Omg! I’d like to say you are not just a good blogger, but also a good chef! The prawns with petai is so tempting! I start feeling hungry now… hahaha

    Thanks for your kind words. Want some? Come, come…hop over during your sem break. You can have this and more – will be delighted to take you around to enjoy the best in town!

    Thanks also for dropping by & commenting! Cheers!

  4. Petai with prawns, sure makes a heavenly dish. Never know there are canned petai. That plate of petai you dish out looks good.

    Yes, looked good, tasted good too. Yang kurang – not pedas. Sure will want to cook it this same way again…and next time, will add lots of chili – then baru ada kick!!! And I will use fresh petai… I am sure it would be just right then.

  5. Canned petai? First time I hear leh.. Your sambal petai prawns look so so good. Can eat two plates of rice with it…

    My friend’s missus sure had a lot, dunno if she had a second serving of rice or not but she sure enjoyed the prawns and the petai! 😀

  6. I also bought some big prawns yesterday. Around RM25 per kilo as someone caught and sold at an uncle’s house.

    Love the way you cooked your prawns. I usually steam them. Fresh and sweet.

    So cheap! Not a fan of them steamed but don’t mind them served this way once in a while – drunken prawns with ginger and with lots of red wine!

  7. Not as sweet as those fresh ones? They need to soak in seawater i heard, if you wish to preserve the natural sweetness of seafood. That’s what they do to those Alaskan crab

    The prawns are fine, fresh, sweet and succulent. I was saying that the petai was not as nice as the fresh ones, not the prawns.

    Didn’t taste the water so dunno if it was salty…but I bought bamboo clams from Sabah once, frozen in salty water – the clams were salty even though I rinsed many times. Not nice at all – will not buy again. 😦

  8. I don’t think the prices for fresh food has dropped since the Chinese New Year. I went for grocery shopping today and I am still paying about 30% more than the expected (pre-CNY) prices. I think these would probably be the new 2015 prices that I have to deal with. One can only hope that there would not be another round of price hikes next month with GST taking blame this time..

    By the way, I noticed you using the word “roundabout” quite a bit lately. Is that a typo or in fact a word that I do not know of? I always thought roundabout is just an exclusively Malaysian word to describe traffic circles.

    Have I? Gee! I did not even notice. You sure are observant. But yes…it should be two words, thanks for pointing that out – I’ve edited it already, meaning around or approximately. Roundabout is not necessarily Malaysian, I think – it is used elsewhere too…meaning bulatan…and yes, some places call theirs circles or circus…as in Piccadilly. Can also refer to a person’s manner of speaking or explaining…in a roundabout way.

    Prices are still sky high, eh? I guess we’ll just have to get used to it – buy simpler, cheaper stuff, eat out less and avoid any place exclusively expensive. Small towns like here, still not too bad, I would say. I can still manage ok on my measly pension.

  9. Oh? There is such a thing as canned petai? I have never seen it here. Fresh petai is so expensive. Once I bought a small packet from the supermarket and it cost me a whopping RM15.00. I thought it was a mistake until I found out that it was indeed a luxury item LOL!

    WHAT???? This can of petai only RM2.40 and quite a lot inside. Hmmmm…. I think it’s RM5 here, a plate of it, peeled.

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at sibutuapui@yahoo.com

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