Sometime ago, my missus came home absolutely distressed! There was a shortage of shallots in Sibu, the nice ones from India, or what we call chang kia (baby onion) or bawang merah (red onion) in Malay.

She said she heard there were places selling them for over RM30.00 and of course, she simply refused to buy. If we had to buy, we had to buy, I replied – just use them sparingly but no, she decided she would do without those and use Bombay onions, what we call tua chang or bawang besar in Malay (big onion) instead. Actually, we do not use shallots so much in our cooking. I think we use garlic a lot more, and ginger and Bombay onions too.

Anyway, I was at a sundry shop near my sister’s house and I saw a basketful of orange-coloured oval-shaped shallots and one full of small Bombay onions, more red in colour than usual, and another one with the big ones. I asked the people there and they told me in no uncertain terms, “Mai bay! Mai bay! Bay phang!!!” (Don’t buy! Don’t buy! Not fragrant!) I had not seen any anywhere else since.

It so happened that a friend of mine was sharing a link to some online home-delivery grocer and I clicked to go and have a lot. Much to my surprise, I saw that they had “red onion” so of course, I was interested. I asked my friend and she said she would help me find out. Eventually, she told me to go to a shop in the vicinity of the Dewan Suarah (Civic Centre) here – they are selling them at RM26.00, adding that she only bought half a kg to use sparingly, seeing how it was so very expensive.

I did drop by early one morning to avoid the crowd and bought one kilo of the shallots…


They did not look as red so I asked the lady where they came from and she simply ignored me. Good grief!!! With such poor social graces, I was surprised that people would still patronise the shop. I mentioned that on Facebook and yes, a few people agreed that she was kind of proud and my missus said she would never want to go there as the people were so unfriendly.  I saw a basket full of crabs, not very big and initially, I thought of buying. However, seeing that the attitude was so poor, I decided I could go without them and just left!

I shared the above photograph on Facebook and got a lot or responses. One said that she saw some in the town centre, going for RM30.00 a kilo. Another said that these should be the ones from India as the China ones are selling at only RM16.00 a kilo in Bintulu. Another said that in Kuching, the China ones are RM10.00 a kilo, the Thai ones RM18.00. Finally, a paternal cousin of mine dropped by and he said they were from Myanmar but they would be out of stock soon because of the street demonstrations and political unrest there at this point in time like what happened in India where the farmers took to the streets and brought the whole farming economy to a standstill.

Well, I took one and peeled and sliced…

Shallot, peeled and sliced

The fragrance was there but it was barely noticeable. I had to bring it close to the nose before I could detect it.

I fried the slices in a bit of oil…

Frying shallots

…so that I could have some fried shallot and fragrant shallot oil…

Fried shallpt & fragrant shallot oil

…to toss my noodles and while I was doing it, the fragrance filled the whole kitchen. Obviously, it wasn’t too bad after all.

By the way, if you intend to do the same, make sure that you remove the strips of shallot before they are too brown as they will continue to cook in the residual heat. If you wait till they are golden brown, you may end up with some burnt ones.

I’ve planted some and hopefully, some will sprout and I can help myself to my own-grown spring onion soon. Ever since the ones I had ran out and I did not have any more shallots to plant, I had to go without spring onion. I sure miss that!

Author: suituapui

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

10 thoughts on “Onions…”

  1. Shallots has been out of stock for quite sometime now and has not been buying since then. Compare garlic and shallots, I used garlic more in my cooking than shallots. If you are in business line and with that awful attitude towards your customers, I for one will never patronise his/ her shop and also those that like to cheat people ( chiak chin tau ) Hope you get what I mean…..😄😄😄

    Yes, a lot of mee sellers are like that. I will never ever go again.

    I do use garlic more, even for fried rice and fried noodles. I guess we can live without shallots but I do want to plant my own spring onions. Now, got money also cannot buy. You eat kampua mee outside, no fried shallots, no spring onions. So kesian!

  2. Here too. Shortage for few weeks and luckily I saw some last week, faster grab my supplies.

    When my mil was here last year, she helped me in frying the shallots at home. Now, almost finish our supply. Guess I have to start cutting and frying them soon. I also toss it in my noodle, fried rice, sometimes in stir fried veggie and soup.

    You managed? How much a kilo in Kuching? Expensive but wait till you see the prices and also those of garlic and ginger overseas. Lobsters cheaper!

    1. RM11.50 per kilo. Stuff has increase in price even before cny. Sigh.

      So cheap. Maybe that is the China ones, they say it is around RM10 a kilo.

  3. I normally use a lot of garlic, ginger and big onions, yes, I skip buying the small ones, not because they are expensive, but it is time consuming cutting them. LOL…

    They are not the same. If you want to make nasi lemak sambal, for instance, you will need the small ones…and for fried rice too – garlic alone may not be enough.

  4. Gosh, that seems really pricey for something that should be relatively easy to grow.

    Wish we’re not so dependent on these countries. The nice ones from India are available now, dunno for how long…and now that Myanmar is in such a mess, I guess imports of theirs will stop in the meantime.

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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