Altogether…

Born in the Year of the Ox, my dad will celebrate his 90th birthday or his 91st, if we follow the Chinese Lunar calendar, this coming Sunday – the 28th Day of the 4th Month. He will celebrate it following his Chinese date of birth every year and in the past, my mum would do all the remembering as to which date exactly it would fall on and my sister will keep tab on it as well. These days, it is very easy to find out exactly when the date is on our regular western or Gregorian calendar via one of these websites…and I will always key in the reminder on my handphone to make sure that I do not forget.

However, this Sunday, my girl would have gone back to her school so he wanted to have it earlier so we could all sit down together for a dinner to celebrate and that was why we had it last Sunday evening. Instead of ordering food from outside, we decided it would be better (and nicer too) to cook a few dishes ourselves and that was exactly what we did. For one thing, my parents do not have very strong teeth so they would not be able to enjoy any meat or anything for that matter that is way too tough for them to chew and of course, if we cook our own, there would not be that overdose of msg that we often get when we have anything from the Chinese restaurants outside.

They love phak lor duck – stewed duck with soy sauce and five spice powder…

Five spice stewed duck

…and we cannot get any outside that will be exactly like how my mum would cook it in the past so we decided to have that. My missus can cook it that same way as her mum used to cook it like that too in her family. Of course, duck can be very tough so she cooked it the night before, heated it up the next morning and again, that afternoon so that by dinner time, it was really very nice and tender.

There was this dish that my dad used to buy home from an old-school restaurant in town and we loved it a lot. Unfortunately, the last time I went there, the waitress taking our orders said she never heard of it and it was not on their menu. We wanted to have that for old times’ sake and my parents would not have a problem chewing. I made the meatballs more or less the same way that I did the other day, replacing the beef with minced pork (and leaving out the mixed herbs and spices) and later in the evening, my missus cooked the sweet and sour sauce for them, the same way she would cook the sauce for her sweet and sour fish

Sweet and sour meatballs

Everybody certainly enjoyed the meatballs that night, I must say.

And talking about fish, I went and bought this white pomfret (ikan bawal putih/pek chio) and my missus steamed it…

Steamed white pomfret
*Oops!!! Sorry, the snapshot came out a bit blur!*

My father loves the white or silver variety and is not all that fond of the black ones that would have a stronger smell and of course, he loved this very much. The fish was very fresh and nice – when you go for something like this outside, it would be rather expensive plus at times, especially when it is steamed, the fish would taste kind of bland, probably not all that fresh, and I would have to resort to eating it with a lot of soy sauce and sliced red chili to make it more palatable.

We also had a simple sweet corn soup to wash every thing down and this salad dish…

Salad

…with our special salad dressing that has been in my maternal side of the family for years and years. Inside, there were boiled prawns, potatoes, egg…and tomato and cucumber slices. We had a problem getting the lettuce as for some reason or other, there was none available anywhere in town. Hmmm…no wonder that day when we had lunch at the Italian restaurant, they were using what we call Sabah eyew chai instead. Finally, we had no choice but to go in search of our local ones at our Sibu Central Market and there was none to be seen…until I saw a handful with very small leaves at one stall. I grabbed all of it, of course, and the girl asked for only 30 sen for the very much coveted stuff. There was just enough for the dish that night, thankfully!

I could see that both my parents enjoyed everything – they did eat quite a lot and there were smiles all around. My dad commented that it was good that we could still cook like this – I guess what he meant was that we could cook dishes the way my mum did before she became bedridden some 9 years or so ago. He must have missed her cooking very much.

Yes, it was a small simple celebration – just the three of us with my parents and my sister but it was, without doubt, a good and meaningful one – nothing beats having the family members altogether especially in one’s golden years.

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Author: suituapui

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

22 thoughts on “Altogether…”

  1. wow, this posting is really so sweet,
    nothing taste better than taste of love of home cooking my friend!!!
    btw, my grandma is an edentulous person and she can’t remember when she can enjoy beef meat until i introduced Matsusaka or Kobe beef with BMS 12, eversince it melted in mouth and the meat is damn tender so teethless jaw will easily chew it, your parents definitely deserved it…..

    Kobe? They had that when they went to Japan before – they used to travel a lot, all over the world some years back. If we want Kobe or wagyu and angus, we would have to import, by special order, air flown. We can’t even get fresh beef here, just those frozen imports from Australia or New Zealand…or some smelly ones from countries unknown. 😦 I guess you don’t know old people – my dad may grumble about vegetables even, what more to say meat or worse, beef, Kobe or whatever. Sure am glad he was delighted with what we dished out that night.

  2. Good to see that both your parents enjoyed the food all of you cooked. Really tasty home cooked dishes. Both of them must be really happy to be with all of you to celebrate your father’s birthday in advance.

    I hope you don’t mind me asking, is your father the carer for your mother since she became bedridden?

    My sis stays with them and they have a daytime caregiver…and we’re 5 minutes away…at my regular 40 kmph speed – Sibu is a very very small town. They must have enjoyed it a lot – now my mum wants to do it again.

  3. Love all your home cooked dishes, am sure your parents enjoyed them very much.. I love the steamed pomfret the most, here I call it “pak chong”, not cheap.. Wait, where’s the butter cake?

    Nope, we did not order a cake that day – may have that on the actual day, Sunday but of course, my girl would have gone back to her school and will not be around to enjoy that. 😦 Yes, the fish is not cheap here either, especially such big ones…so we would save it for special occasions, will not buy it on normal days.

  4. Love all the food…

    I bet you would, all very nice…and anytime better than eating outside – salty, too oily and so much msg.

  5. Oh i LOVE meatballs! Must i would prefer to with salad!

    You do? It’s pork, minced – all the hidden fat that you can’t see! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ Ummmm….can’t understand the rest of your comment.

  6. Happy Blessed Birthday & a toast of good health & abundance blessings to your dad…..Cheersssss!!!!!

    Though a simple celebration, most important is family members can sit down & enjoy all the delicious homecooked food. 2 of my favourite dishes are there….pak lor ark & steamed pomfret.

    Thank you.

    Hmmmm….you haven’t tried my sweet and sour meatballs – you’d be coming back for more! My dad had three (and that is a lot, considering that he does not eat much usually) and I made them very big – bigger than ping pong balls!

  7. good morning arthur! TGIF, and a happy friday to you πŸ™‚

    you’re right, i get only 1 comment daily most of the time, and it’s from you :), thank you very much!
    let me check how much is the postage to send over the dispenser, the water bottle is a bit heavy though, I wonder if it’s available for sale where you’re at? πŸ™‚

    Hehehehehehe!!! Your ever loyal supporter, me! πŸ˜‰

    Postage? Ooooo…it is going to be VERY expensive, especially if it is heavy, like you said – not sure how much if you send by snail mail. Have not seen it here – would surely want to get one for my girl – they depend on rain water in her school…and it is very unclean. We always bring water from home every week.

  8. Happy birthday and warm wishes to your father. The duck looks amazing. πŸ™‚

    Thank you. The duck was great, can’t find any place doing it this same way outside – at best, we would just get the usual roast duck!

  9. Wonderful. Best wishes for good health to your parents, and all of you. I learnt something new today – the existence of the Eastern-Western calendar converters. Thank you.

    Thank you. Yes, you can click the link and find out your birthdate following the Chinese lunar calendar.

  10. Glad to see your folks enjoying the fruits of your (and your missus) labour! I love steam fish and I do agree that it’s rather expensive when eating it outside but I have to disagree when it comes to the taste. I always felt that steamed fish outside tastes a lot better than when I do it at home. It may look easy but it’s not (there’s a specific technique)…it’s how you control the fire, how you steam it, how long you steam it for and, of course, the sauce to go with it.

    You miss out the most important factor – the fish – how fresh it is, the size (and do not be deceived by the fact that they are alive, swimming in the aquarium – this is just a gimmick as the longer it has been in there, the poorer the quality of its taste) but of course, it matters a lot how long it is steamed. Most people will just leave it in the steamer and let it steam, not the right thing to do.

    Once, my friends drove me to a fishing village, very very far away from Kuching (they call it Green Mountain) and we had steamed white pomfret – no sauces, no ingredients…just chopped garlic (can’t remember if there was ginger) and it was so so so sweet, so smooth – all of us loved it so much that we ordered another one but unfortunately, the second one was not at nice, wasn’t as great as the first…and considering the fact that they did not use any sauces, no added ingredients, everything boiled down to the fish and the fish alone. You get the best fish in Sandakan – from the sea to your plate – you wait for the boats to come in, can’t get any fresher than that!

    Of course if you eat at the restaurant, it is bound to be nicer as it is just steamed and served steaming hot…plus it is buried and drowned in a multiple of sins, msg included.

    1. The freshness of the fish is a given! Of course, there are restaurants that serve not-so-fresh fish and, of course, I won’t be back after that (or won’t order steam fish there again). And not all restaurants drown them in multiple of sins!

      So far, all of them here do though it is more to enhance the taste of the dish…except that place I went to at Green Hill. However, if they deep-fry the fish – they sometimes do at those Chinese dinners/banquets, and serve it with sauce/gravy, it is pretty obvious that the fish is not fresh – not sweet so cannot possibly stand on its own. The frying and the added sauce or gravy is their camouflage.

  11. Happy birthday in advance to your dad. Wish him good health and happiness. I guess the very best present for him is family. Everyone gets together and celebrate his special day.

    Lovely dishes. Nice phak lo duck by your missus.

    Thank you. We love phak lor duck – usually we get to eat it once a year as my missus does not eat duck. This is an exception to the rule – something special for the special occasion.

  12. That’s a lovely birthday celebration for your dad. A warm loving gathering with home cooked food. That is the best!

    It most certainly was…especially when we cooked everything ourselves, there would be that most important ingredient – love. Eating (or ordering from) outside, no matter how nice, it simply will not be the same. Maybe old folks like me can understand this better – it sure means a lot to people like us, warga emas…senior citizens.

  13. What a Happy Occasion!! Your parents are so blessed… Simple dinners are secondary… What they need most is their kids’ company….

    Indeed! Old folks are like that, not just the kids’ company but anybody who cares to drop by and visit. Makes them so very happy. I guess it gets very boring and depressing being on their own at home all the time.

  14. a very blessed and happy birthday to your father in advance … it’s really nice to have several different generations of a family together and able to enjoy each other’s presence πŸ™‚

    Thanks, Sean. It most certainly was a lovely get-together, lots of happiness and positive vibes all round.

  15. It is always nice to celebrate with parents whatever the occasion, the older we get. At my age, I already feel very blessed to be able to celebrate days with my parents, I’m sure it is more so for you! Glad they loved all the food. It is better to have home cooked food, I can’t imagine old folks’ body can handle msg all that well at all.

    Indeed! It pisses me off to see young people working away from home running off somewhere on long weekends instead of coming home to spend time with the old folks. If they book early, the airfare is less than the taxi fare from the airport here to the town. Some do not even bother to come home for Chinese New Year, no doubt the fares around the festivals can be very very expensive. My niece, brother-in-law’s daughter, is very good – she would book way ahead of time, any zero fare offers, and she would be back for everybody’s birthdays (and Chinese New Year)…and long weekends she would go some place else.

    1. I have one such friend who hails from Miri. Every year, he puts off booking the airfare even after repeated reminders from us friends, until it is too late and the airfare is too expensive for his liking. We would have to continue pressuring and scolding him for being a moron son until he relents and paid up for the tickets.

      And then he repeats the same mistake the following year. And the following year. And the following year.

      He’s now moved elsewhere, so it is out of our help “jurisdiction” anymore. :/

      When I was still teaching, that was what West Malaysian teachers here did – sat in the staff computer room to check the airfares every day. The worst thing was when one had booked his or her ticket thinking it was a steal, the price went down further the very next day. Many would grab the zero fare offers…and throw away the ticket when the time comes if they cannot go.

  16. All the food here looks yummy, drooling at the stew duck, duck is one of my favourites. Happy birthday to your dad STP

    Thanks. I love duck too and my girl as well – only my missus would not touch it.

  17. So nice and sweet to celebrate with your love ones, looking at this post makes me miss my dad, sorry STP, I can’t help but feel emotional

    I can understand the feeling, we should spend as much time as possible with the old folks and cherish every moment we share.

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