All throughout my growing up years, my mum would sometimes fry bihun with the very nice made-in-China Amoy brand canned clams in soy sauce and it was not until 2011 that I first encountered it being sold at a stall here and since then, there are others available here, there and everywhere.
They call it Hinghua bihun but a cousin of mine in Kuching whose in-laws are Hinghuas said that her mother-in-law does not fry her bihun this way so I am not sure of the origin of this recipe.
Quite recently, somebody shared a photo of the bihun on Facebook and was asking around as to where she could buy the canned clams in soy sauce and there I went declaring that it would be easily available here in Sibu, thinking that was the case until another cousin of mine in Kuching said that they were no longer available – she hunted high and low for it when she was here around June last year but it was all in vain.
I went round the shops in search of it and true enough, there was not a single can to be seen anywhere. No, we can no longer buy those canned clams that we love so much here which of course, means that we cannot have our bihun fried with it anymore.
Not too long ago, I saw a friend’s photograph of hers on Facebook and I quickly asked her where she bought the clams. She replied saying that she used the Sunstar brand – a friend gave it to her but she did not say anything as to how good it was so I went looking for it. I did not manage to get that same brand but I got this one…
Well, they were cockles, not clams, so there were a few big ones in a can…
I tasted the sauce but no, it was not the same. In fact, I thought it tasted like the sauce in a can of pickled lettuce, a popular condiment to go with plain porridge.
I soaked some bihun in hot water till soft and I added the sauce, a bit of my missus’ pounded chili and garlic and a lot of the spring onions and daun sup (Chinese celery) from my garden, chopped. I fried some shallots, peeled and sliced and garlic, peeled and finely chopped, in a bit of oil before adding the cockles and a bit of cangkuk manis, also from my garden, shredded and then I added the bihun and finally, I cracked two eggs into the wok and mixed well with everything before dishing it all out…
Yes, it was very nice but no, the taste was entirely different. The cockles were kind of hard or chewy so if I were to cook this again, I certainly would want to cut them into thinner and smaller slices.
I guess we will just have to get used to the idea that we can’t have bihun cooked the way we used to love it so much anymore and make do with whatever we have. Thankfully, those canned stewed pork or stewed pork chops are still readily available so we can have bihun with that instead – that was another way my mum would fry bihun in those long gone days.