White as snow…

My girl loves this – they call it pek koi, literally translated as white cake but on the packet, it says rice cake. We used to get it from China and we had to soak it overnight in order to soften it before cooking. I tried it once but no, it was still hard, tough like rubber, so I never bothered to do it again. After all, I can’t say that I am particularly fond of it.

Well, it seems that freshly-made ones are available now…

Fresh pek koi

…at the wet markets or those shops selling vegetables and stuff like the one in the vicinity of the Dewan Suarah here, opposite Grace – the dianpianngu shop. There’s a shop near my house too but my missus says it’s available only twice a week – Thursdays and Sundays.

There are 5 pieces in one pack…

Pieces

…with the double happiness character embossed on each and each pack is selling for RM2.00 though I have heard people saying that they have paid more elsewhere.

To cook, one would need to cut the pieces into thin slices like this…

Sliced

…and one way to cook it would be like char kway teow. After all, kway teow is, in fact, rice noodles as well.

I just fried it with garlic, soy sauce, a bit of sugar and pepper, prawns and fish balls, egg and chopped spring onions…

Fried pek koi 1

…though I would want to add some taugeh (bean sprouts) as well but there wasn’t any in the fridge…

Fried pek koi 2

…so I had to do without that.

It was nice and there was enough for at least 3 or 4 plates of the same outside…

Kong Ma Ma pek koi
*Archive photo*

…usually going for RM3.50 each.

Of course, it is up to each individual how one wants to cook it…

Uncle Teh pek koi
*Archive photo*

…and I certainly would try some other recipes the next time I buy this to cook.

Second to none…

It was Friday again and my girl would be coming home from her school. The previous week, I cooked Sarawak laksa as a special treat for her and this week, I decided to make some popiah (spring rolls).

Yes, we can get these very nice ones here but nothing can beat our own home-made ones, a recipe that has been in my family since God knows when. I don’t know where my mum or aunties or whoever got the recipe from but all these years, ever since I was small, the popiah in my family has always been done this way and of course, if you ask me, I would state in no uncertain terms that it is second to none.

This is the very basic and the ingredients I prepared…

Filling ingredients

…for the filling included some prawns, peeled and de-veined and chopped, French beans, very finely sliced (I prefer these to long beans but that may be an alternative), tau kua (firm bean curd), cut into small slices, mangkuang/sengkuang (turnip), grated and one whole bulb of garlic, peeled and finely chopped.

I fried the garlic in a bit of oil till golden brown before adding the French beans followed by the prawns. Then, I added the tau kua and stirred well to break the slices up into smaller bits and after that, I added the mangkuang/sengkuang. I kept frying until it was good and ready…

Filling, done

…and then, I dished everything out. I said this is the basic as at times, we may add some minced pork as well…or even crab meat. Some people like to add carrots cut into thin strips to give it a bit of colour but I do not recall any of us ever doing that in our family.

Other than the filling, I had to fry some omelette and cut it into fine thin strips…

Others

…and I also had to prepare the “glue” – which is actually caramelised sugar, with cornflour added to make it thick and starchy and that is used for taste and also to hold down the skin after rolling. For the kacang tumbuk (crushed peanut), I just used the very nice khong therng that I still had in the house and my missus had just made some fresh chili dip so I did not have to do that…and I also bought some greens to go into the popiah.

There was some popiah skin in the freezer…

Frozen popiah skin

…so I did not bother to order any of the freshly-made ones, not that it is easy to do so here in Sibu. There is only one place where one can get that here – a tofu stall…and one would have to go there and place and order and collect the next day…and I am quite doubtful they would bother to entertain an order for just one kg or two and I think the last time I bought some, it was already RM10.00 a kg. So, these frozen ones would just have to do.

I placed the skin on a flat plate, coat a layer of the chili, place some bits of lettuce and on top of the leaves, I added the filling, followed by the omelette strips and lastly, the crushed peanut…

Add filling

…and then I rolled it up…

Rolled

 There you have it! One popiah, ready for the eating…

First bite

Yum! Yummmmm!!!!

All that’s left…

Somebody commented that she could not see the label of the very nice tom yam paste that my friends from Trengganu gave me so here is a close-up shot of it…

Tom yam paste

I don’t think we have this here but then again, I have never really looked and most of the time, I would just grab a small bottle of the Nona brand but this one is definitely nicer.

After enjoying the bihun that I fried with it so much, I could not wait to cook something with it some more. I did have a pack of the noodles in the pantry but I decided to try it out with some leftover rice that I had in the fridge instead. There were the chicken and the taugeh (bean sprouts) that I had left from the Sarawak laksa that I cooked that day so I decided to use those too and these other ingredients…

Ingredients

…as well – the usual shallot and garlic, peeled and sliced, a chili, seeds removed and sliced, some fish balls, sliced thinly, one stalk serai (lemon grass), end bruised, Thai basil leaves and a bit of spring onions, chopped for garnishing.

As usual, I fried the garlic and shallot in a bit of oil till golden brown before adding the Thai basil leaves and serai and also the chili, chicken and fish balls. After mixing everything thoroughly, I added a tablespoon of the tom yam paste…and soon after, the rice. When everything had been fried enough, I added two eggs and the taugeh…and once done, I dished it out and served…

Tom yam fried rice

…garnished with the spring onions.

No, I would not say it was very nice – at best, I would say it was all right. Firstly, I would think that tom yam is more compatible with bihun, not so much with rice, though I do know that it goes pretty well with spaghetti the way they do it…

Payung tom yam spaghetti
*Archive photo*

here. They even had tom yam kampua noodles…

Tom yam kampua
*Archive photo*

…at one place in town and likewise, though it was quite nice, I would not say that it swept me off my feet. Other than that, without the usual prawns or sotong (squids) in my fried rice, it did seem that something was missing and it was not all that great.

Ah well…at least, I managed to finish off all that was left from the Sarawak laksa and was still sitting in the fridge, and lesson learnt – next time, it has to be bihun…AND seafood!

I don’t think so…

I was here the other day to tapao some of their very nice char siew paos for breakfast and while I was there, I decided to try the Foochow fried noodles that Andrew mentioned to me once.

The old guy at the counter looked very familiar and I could not for the dear life of me remember where I used to see him before. Was it at Thomson Corner when it was at the Catholic Centre next to St Rita’s Primary School and then, they moved here? Never mind! I just ordered what I wanted and took a seat and waited to be served.

It did not take too long and boy, the serving sure was huge!

Pahlawan Foochow fried noodles 1

This was the special (RM5.00)…and for that extra RM1.50 compared to the one I had here, it really was a steal as there were bits of meat, fish fillet, fish ball slices and lots of cuttlefish…

Pahlawan Foochow fried noodles 2

…but tastewise, I would say that the other place was very much nicer despite the lack of ingredients and I was wishing that they had added a little bit of green vegetables in this one…

Pahlawan Cafe Foochow fried noodles 3

This just goes to show that it is not a matter of adding a lot of extra ingredients but rather the skill of cooking the dish that will separate the men from the boys. I guess that is why we have tried cooking our own at home and we never could get it right simply because we have the tendency to add all the “best” stuff in the hope of enhancing the taste. At this point in time, therefore, the one that I had here still ranks as my Numero Uno!

I also had the teh-c special and I am afraid it paled in comparison to the one at that other place too and needless to say, it came nowhere near the very very nice one that I liked a lot here.

I saw a stall selling the celebrated Bintangor rojak and I just had to order a plate (RM5.00)…

Pahlawan Cafe Bintangor rojak 1

…to see if it was any good. Yes, the rojak sauce tasted similar – after all, they do sell it in bottles so anyone would be able to get hold of some but they could have been a little bit more generous with it, I thought.

They sure added a lot of the kacang tumbuk (crushed peanut) though so that was a bonus point in their favour and they had pineapples, yew char koi (Chinese crullers) and tauhu pok (tofu puffs) in it along with the usual mangkuang/sengkuang and cucumber…

Pahlawan Cafe Bintangor rojak 2

…but they did not have the sweet potato fritters that were in the original. Well, I am not really a fan of this kind of rojak…even though I would say it was good and if you are into this, you may want to drop by and give it a try. I, for one, would not go out of my way to come here and have it again.

Don’t you see…

I was at a supermarket one morning and was horrified to see how the prices of instant noodles have shot up like nobody’s business. I am not exactly sure but it appeared to me that what most of them did was to just add 50 sen to everything. So this used to be RM3.80 for a pack of 5…

Mee Daddy chicken flavour
*Archive photo*

…but now it is RM4.30 and as a matter of fact, I did see it selling for around RM4.50 or more some place else.

I’ve always had a bone to pick with this brand as despite being made right here in Sibu…

Made in Sibu

…it has always been more expensive than many of the others which may be just as nice or at times, even nicer! I just cannot understand why.

No, no…I do not have a problem with the GST thing…

GST

…but if it was RM3.80, 6% would be less than 25 sen…so why has there been an increase of 50 sen…or more?

Anyway, this post is not going to be another one of the many you have seen in many blogs. I do believe that the money is in our hands so we have the power to decide whether or not to buy…and of course, with the jacked-up prices, I decided that I could jolly well do without those instant noodles, thank you very much.

Now, what happened was I dropped by a mini-supermarket near my house…and I was delighted to see that they were selling them for only RM3.70!!!

RM3.70

I wasted no time at all in grabbing two packs and carted them home…only to realise that I did not see carefully and it was the wrong flavour!!! Tsk! Tsk!

The chicken flavour is very nice, something like the chin therng mee (clear soup noodles)…

Chin therng mee
*Archive photo*

…at the shops, or maybe even nicer…and I do like their curry flavour too…

Kari 365
*Archive photo*

…even when it was in this old packaging…

Kari old packaging
*Archive photo*

…a long time ago…but I did try their mi goreng (fried noodles)…

Mi goreng old packaging
*Archive photo*

…before and though it was quite like the rest, it did pale a bit in comparison and of course, considering that it was a lot more expensive than the others, I jolly well would not want to buy any more of this particular brand and would rather opt for the cheaper Indonesian brand which I do think is the nicest of the lot.

Ah well!!! What to do? Since I had already bought them, I might as well cook and eat as and when necessary which I did the other day for breakfast…

Daddy Mee mi goreng 1

…served with chicken slices and one fried egg, garnished with a sprinkling of chopped spring onions…

Daddy Mee mi goreng 2

…and it actually tasted pretty good. Maybe they have improved on it since the last time I had it way back then.

Still, go ahead and take advantage of the situation to exploit everybody and increase the prices according to your whims and fancies, may you all rot in your graves! At those prices, I, for one, would not be buying anymore, that’s for sure – after all, any one of my many variations of fried rice…

My fried rice

…or mee or kway teow (both RM2 a kg, enough for at least 10 plates) or bihun would make just as great a breakfast anytime any day or in fact, one that’s a whole lot better at that…but yes, I do need to look and see very carefully when I go out shopping so I would not end up stuck with something that I do not want and have no intention of buying at all.

Still…

When my Singaporean friend, Alfred, was in town, he wanted to drop by this restaurant again but it was closed so we had to go elsewhere. He said that he wanted to go so as he had seen many nice dishes in my blog that I had enjoyed there at one time or another but I did not order those when we went there together the first time they came to Sibu. He sent me some photographs of those and gosh!!! Some of them went back a very very long time like the calamari salad from 2008!!!

Yes, I remember enjoying that but somehow or other, we had not had that for so long that I was wondering if they would still be serving it…still. So last Saturday afternoon, when we dropped by for lunch, I made it a point to order that and yes, they still had it on their menu…

Ruby Restaurant salad sotong 1

…and yes, it was still very nice, much nicer than the squids we had here not too long ago and needless to say, my girl enjoyed the dish a lot – she’s a sotong fan, that I know!

We also asked for their very nice honey spare ribs…

Ruby Restaurant Honey spare ribs

…and for our vegetable dishes, my girl wanted their cangkuk manis with egg – they do seem to do it very well here, a head above the rest…

Ruby Restaurant cangkuk manis with egg

…and the bitter gourd fried with salted egg…

Ruby Restaurant bitter gourd with salted egg

…which, of course, was very good too.

Since it was afternoon, I took the opportunity to enjoy their very special kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee)…

Ruby Restaurant kopi-o-peng

…which has never failed to disappoint me.

All in all, the bill for the food for 4 persons came up to RM37.00 and with the rice and drinks, the total came up to RM48.20. I gave the boss a 50 ringgit-note and the nice guy gave me RM4.00 change – he has kindly given me a discount again! But frankly, it is not so much the special discounts that keep me going back there – I do think that the people are very nice and friendly and service is prompt and good and the food is great…plus rice is still RM1.00 a bowl – if I’m not mistaken, they’ve jacked it up to RM1.50 or more at some places around here.

Actually Alfred is not the only one who wants to go back again after the first time – there have been others like my dear KL friend, Mandy, for instance…and there were others who went back on their own, many again and again and again!

How…

I bought a few packets of the sambal (paste) laksa for that exclusive Sarawak delight for my Singaporean friend, Alfred, to take back home and try cooking it himself. For one thing, there are so many at the shops and supermarkets, including one that is made in Sibu, that I really did not know which one to buy. In the end, I settled for one that seemed rather popular – you would get to see it in all the shops along with a few other brands – the helang matahari (sun eagle) brand.

Well, I’ve blogged about how to go about cooking it but just in case Alfred’s too lazy to go and search for the relevant posts, here’s how to go about it once again. First, I bought some pek hay (seawater “white prawns”), peeled and de-veined them, leaving behind the tails, and removed the heads. I washed the shell and heads and then boiled them in water for the stock. I also boiled the prawns, drained and put them aside…

Prawn chicken egg

…and kept the stock too. Then I boiled a piece of chicken breast and keeping the stock, I took out the meat and shredded it into fine thin strips…and put that aside as well.

I put all the stock that I had from the prawns and chicken in a pot and emptied the packet(s) of laksa paste into it and brought it to boil. I let it simmer for a long while to get the taste out of the ingredients…by which time, the whole house would be filled with a very nice fragrance of the culinary delight.

In the meantime, I fried some omelette (see above photo) and cut very thinly and put that aside with the rest. I also soaked a pack of bihun in hot water to soften…

Bihun

…and did the same with the taugeh (bean sprouts), tails removed…

Taugeh daun sup sambal belacan

…and I also cut some daun sup for garnishing but I pounded the sambal belacan (dried prawn paste) dip the previous day, ahead of time so I would not have too much to handle on the actual day of cooking.

Then, I sieved the broth to remove the residue of the ingredients….

Sieving

…from it. Once done, I brought the broth back to boil and added santan (coconut milk) and half a cube of ikan bilis (dried anchovies) stock to it…

Broth

To serve, I placed the bihun in a bowl, arranged the prawns, chicken, egg and taugeh and poured the broth all over them…

All my own work 1

…before sprinkling some chopped daun sup on top.

Yes, it turned out very nice and that day, being a Friday, my girl and her friend/colleague came home and had it…

All my own work 2

…for dinner and yes, they loved it too!

There you have it, Alfred! It really is not difficult, just that there may be a lot of things to do. Good luck!!!

Tell me where to go…

I have a friend who is always sharing photographs on Facebook of everything he eats here, there and everywhere in town. I wish, however, that he would not forget to mention where and if possible, give the precise location as well considering that with the uncountable number of coffee shops in Sibu, searching for one can be like looking for a needle in a haystack…though it is usually not a problem for me as I am quite familiar with many places around here and at times, I can even tell by merely looking at the table top or the crockery…or the presentation!!! But still, if you give me the name of a road, I may not know exactly where it is….like when my Singapore friends and I went in search of the giant prawn tom yam noodles served in a coconut…even with the address and the photo of the shop in Huai Bin’s blog.

There was once when he shared a photograph of something he had here…

Kedai Kopi Sibu

…and when somebody asked where he ate that, he told them the name of the shop. Being located in the back portion of the shops in the area facing the houses inside, many would not know where this shop is. The directions he gave would not help much, I think…so I told the guy to go into that road after the Shell Station opposite Sacred Heart School and go straight ahead past Bread Sense and he will see the coffee shop on his right. For one thing, I do know the place very well as I was teaching in that school across the road for 19 years and I would come over quite frequently for brunch so it was easy for me to tell him exactly where to go.

Actually, I have blogged about this place before in 2008 (when I was still using my ancient mobile phone camera) but usually, whenever I stopped by, I would go for the kampua noodles at the stall right in front…

Kampua stall

The ones here are pretty good and yes, it is the same guy doing it still, he and his wife, I guess.

Well, my friend’s photographs (he featured it more than once) showed the Foochow fried noodles that he had here and yes, I have had some of the stuff from that stall – the one after this kampua noodle stall and yes, I would say that I did like them as well. But the one in his snapshot had liver, intestines and all…and I had never had anything of the sort before. That was why I made it a point to check it out when I was in the vicinity the other day.

Hmmm…the same guy is still running the coffee shop and after all this time, he does not look a day older – exactly the same. I ordered my usual – the iced black coffee…

kopi-o-peng

…and yes, I would rank it among the best in town – if this is what it is like all the time…plus it is only RM1.50 a glass while other places have jacked up the prices to RM1.80 since quite sometime ago.

I had a problem ordering as the lady was conversant only in Foochow and though I am a Foochow myself, I grew up speaking Hokkien…but somehow or other, with a sprinkling of the little that I know, throw in some Mandarin plus a few Hokkien words here and there, I did manage to get my wishes understood…and after a while, this was served…

Kedai Kopi Sibu Foochow fried noodles

Wowwwww!!!! It was so so so good, truly like the ones I had growing up – the real thing! I dare say there are not many around even though you may find hawker stalls and shops or restaurants selling Foochow fried noodles all over town, the ones that can do it this well, that is.

Unfortunately, there were a lot of intestines…

Intestines

…in the plate of noodles but no liver! Probably there was none available that morning…but never mind, I could jolly well do without that but I did wish they could give a little bit more of the green vegetables. It sure did not come cheap though – that plate of Foochow fried noodles special cost RM6.00 but it was perfectly all right considering that I did enjoy it so very much…and one thing’s for sure, I most certainly would be back…for more!

Moving away from the post proper, if you remember, sometime last year, my friends from Trengganu came to Sibu on a brief visit and they gave me these…

Goodies from Trengganu

They told me that the tom yam paste (in the bottle) is the best, better than any other. Well, I sure took a very long time to get down to opening it and cooking something with it (it did not matter much though as it would only expire sometime in 2016)…and I finally did so that day.

I fried some garlic and shallots, peeled and sliced, till golden brown in a bit of oil before putting in the lemon grass, bruised and some chopped Thai basil leaves. The prawns went in next and then the bihun and two tablespoons of the tom yam paste. I mixed everything together well and after a while, I added two eggs. When I tried a bit, I found that it was so tasty already so I decided not to add anything else…and just dished it all out and served…

Tom yam bihun

Yes, it was indeed so good – in the past, when I was using some of those pastes from the shops, I remember I had to add fish sauce, ikan bilis (dried anchovies) stock and what not but not this time around. I sure would want to fry some more of the same…or try cooking some other dishes using this very delightful tom yam paste, courtesy of my kind and generous friends in Trengganu.

A walk in the park…

My girl’s school took Easter Monday off so we did not have to send her and her colleague/friend back on Sunday and I took the opportunity to take the latter around to parts of Sibu that she had not been to yet. Every weekend, they would go shopping for their food rations for the week, things that they would need for their lessons and school…and we would go out to eat some nice stuff that we have around here and that was about it. At least, over the long weekend last week, they managed to go and watch a movie and we did get to drop by the Bukit Aup Jubilee Park…

Bukit Aup

I was so very disappointed to see the green colour of the water. The last time I saw this happening, the people there told me that the pump was spoilt so the water was stagnant and because of the excessive growth of the green stuff in the water, the fish, deprived of oxygen, all died and there was a horrendous stench all around. They said that there were no funds to repair or replace the faulty pump so there was nothing they could do other than to sit and wait.

This time around, it was not as bad…yet – the fish were still alive but they were barely visible due to the colour of the water. I did share this photograph on Facebook and tagged the secretary of our town’s municipal council so hopefully, something had been done since to eliminate the problem.

We dropped by the other attraction right across the road…

One Malaysia Cultural Village

…as well and I must say that nothing much had changed since Day One. I guess this was supposed to be a fountain…

Fountain

…but it was not on – I wonder if it ever is!

The various booths that were already ready the last time I came here…

Around the village

..were still there – empty, absolutely dead. Perhaps the authorities concerned could just hand them over to the respective associations, for instance, the Chinese/Foochow association could take care of the Chinese House, and similarly the Iban, Malay, Melanau associations as well. They should be able to put up some nice displays and exhibits of interests for visitors to see and admire…and perhaps, they could even have some souvenirs for sale. As it is, there is really no point bringing visitors to Sibu here.

The “village” has been around for a few years now and yet, I saw some construction works going on. Don’t ask me what on earth those people were building – I honestly do not know. The aviary that was incomplete that last visit of mine is now ready…

Aviary

…but it was quite empty…

Empty

…except for TWO mynahs…
Mynah
…and a few chickens, including one of the small Philippine variety.

If I’m not mistaken, once in a long while, they may have some variety show or some kind of function there and the restaurant…

Restaurant

…did seem to be doing pretty well. We decided to give it a try and have lunch there…and when we went in, we found out that there was a blackout in the area (and maybe that was why the fountain was not functioning) so the fans could not be turned on. Ah well! It did not really matter as it was not all that hot and the place was quite airy.

We ordered their sweet and sour pork…

Sweet and sour pork

…and the 3-egg bitter gourd…

Bitter gourd

…as well as their salted egg pumpkin…

Pumpkin

…and claypot tofu…

Claypot

…that did not come in a claypot but it tasted great though. Everyone liked all that we had though I was not too fond of the pumpkin – it was cooked in the exact same style as what they call the kiam sor (salty crusty/crispy) dish, be it meat or fish fillet or prawn so it tasted exactly like that and I could hardly detect any taste of salted eggs in it.

Together with the rice and drinks for the four of us, the bill came up to only RM46.00 which I would say was very cheap compared to most places in the town proper these days. Too bad this place is a little bit out of the way or I would definitely come more often to try whatever else they have on their menu.

After that, we stopped by a couple of places to pick up a few more things that the girls needed to buy and then we headed on home.

Time on my hands…

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that I was out and about having breakfast with my contemporaries and by the time I got home, the ladies had gone out on their own to a movie, shopping and what not. As I was still full, I decided not to cook lunch and opted for a quick nap instead. When I got up, they were still not home yet so with a lot of time on my hands, I decided to make some pancakes…

My pancakes

…which turned out really good, not too sweet (I reduced the sugar from three to two tablespoons) and soft and fluffy with a delightful buttery fragrance. They had them for tea too when they got home and it was pretty obvious that they liked them a lot for when I peeped a while later, there were only a few pieces left out of the many that I made following this recipe. Go ahead, give it a try! You’ll love it, of that I am very sure.

Ah yes! I did mention that my cousin in Melbourne, Australia was sending me some stuff and I would show you what I got in this post. Well, here you are! Da…da…da…

From Melbourne

I wasted no time at all in getting down to business…and the very next morning, I cut the leftover roast duck into small bits and fried it with garlic and leek…and I wrapped that using the tortilla wraps before putting them into the oven to bake…

Tortillas

Everyone enjoyed eating those…except my missus, of course. She wouldn’t touch the bird!

Thank you so much to my cousin for sending the goodies all the way from Down Under and thanks once again, Gina & Henry, for helping to bring them over.