Half breed…

It was my missus’ birthday on Thursday, her 65th.

That was why I went to that mini-market not far from my house to buy a chicken for the traditional Foochow longevity noodles…

…or mee sua (string or thread noodles) and of course, for a special occasion, that calls for a special breed of chicken, what we call pua chai kay, literally translated as Eurasian or half breed chicken…

I love this variety, nicer than the very popular kampung chicken and the celebrated super-nutritious black chicken…

It’s smaller than the regular chicken feed-fed ones and not so fat but bigger than the kampung ones but they sure do not come cheap – I got one for RM47.00 something, almost RM50.00!

The texture of the meat is nicer, kind of liam-liam (sticky) and tastier and we also had those special supposedly more nutritious kampung chicken eggs…

…with the chicken and the noodles. These are very small, smaller than the regular ones by around half the size but bigger than quail eggs.

That was all we had for brunch that day but I did have something planned for dinner that evening. That will be in another post though so you’ll stick around for that, won’t you?

This is the place…

I blogged about this place…

…a few times already, my favourite fish and seafood stall located not far from my house and it sure aroused quite a bit of interest among my followers and also my friends on Facebook.

Many were excited to see the ikan terubok that I managed to get hold of to enjoy after so many years while others were keen on getting hold of the unadulterated fish paste that the lady at the stall would make for sale. I bought that a few times already and the other day, we used it to make those lovely Thai fish cakes, the tod mun pla. Of course, I went back there quite regularly for the prawns and also the sotong (squid).

I was there again the other morning and I saw that they had some ikan terubok

…bigger than the ones I am keeping in my freezer for days when I would feel like eating that in case I cannot get hold of any when I am craving for it. It isn’t easy getting hold of this fish, really.

As a matter of fact, I was not there to buy fish for our meals that day but I certainly would do that now that I have this stall not too far away. That way, I can buy and take home and cook straight away, fresh from the sea. The lady at the stall told me that they would only open when there are fishing boats coming in at Mukah, bringing in their catch for sale. That sure beats those fishmongers who will take out their fish from their freezer, defrost it and display for sale…and freeze it again at the end of the day if nobody buys it and day in, day out, the vicious cycle goes on.

I quite like the fish sold at that shop round the corner from my house. The instant they get their fresh fish, they will pack them in plastic, seal and freeze them straight away. Unfortunately, their fish is not cleaned so when I buy theirs, prior to cooking, I shall have to go through the chore of cleaning it. I do not mind that actually – I am pretty good at it and I do not mind that their fish is generally a little more expensive because it is always very fresh, very sweet and nice.

Anyway, back to the aforementioned stall, I bought more prawns, RM18.00 a kilo…

…because we had run out of them, never mind big or small. Those this size would be ideal for cho liao (as an ingredient) when cooking vegetables or frying noodles or rice. Their sweetness and taste will surely bring whatever you are cooking to a whole new level.

I bought 2 kg that day and lived to regret it. The nice lady at the stall, without my asking for a discount, said she would let me have them at RM35.00 but when I got home, I spent THE WHOLE MORNING peeling them and removing their heads and slicing the back to get rid of the vein. Gosh!!! That was so tedious, such a dreadful chore!!! Looking on the bright side, I did manage to get quite a lot…

…for use – that should last for quite sometime! I’ve packed them in convenient packs so we can just take out what we need each time, no need to take them all out to defrost, use a bit and refreeze the rest. It is not good to defrost and refreeze stuff like that all the time.

I also bought some sotong (squid)…

…too that morning. They were not that big that day so my missus had to spend hours cleaning them while I was doing the prawns.

She cooked sambal sotong

…with them and nasi lemak (just the rice in santan/coconut milk). We sure enjoyed that to the max especially when we had not had any nasi lemak for such a long time. I am still avoiding the shops and stalls in the kampung area here even though the cluster seems a little bit quiet for a while now – I’m sure everyone would agree that at a time like this, with the pandemic raging on and on like it is never going to end, it sure pays to be careful.

The fish stall is located to the right of CCL FRESH MINI MARKET against the wall at that end of the block to the right of the Grand Wonderful Hotel (2.309601, 111.845163) along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, if you go in via the entrance where San Len Tyres is located, just before the Petronas petrol station a short distance from Delta Mall.

Release me…

I’m a meat person and I must have meat for my main meals, lunch and dinner. Fish, prawns and other forms of seafood don’t count and if I have those instead of meat, later in the night, I would feel hungry and I may have a problem turning in for the night unless I go and have a bite of something first.

Having said that, my meat diet brings another problem especially when I have too much of it and not enough roughage. Frankly, I do feel that those few miserable slices of cucumber by the side of my plate of chicken rice or nasi lemak would not be enough to do the job to make sure that everything would be released smoothly and easily when the time comes. That is why I will always eat a lot of fruits on days when I do not get to eat a lot of vegetables, mainly our local bananas and sometimes, papayas or pineapples. I’m not into those expensive imported ones.

As for the vegetables that I will eat, I find that the green leafy ones work better than the rest. The problem is the former do not keep very well so you will have to cook them quickly if you happen to buy those.

Since I got rid of my sweet potato leaves…

…I only have my cangkok manis and Brazilian spinach…

…in my garden and even though I do enjoy the latter a lot, the ladies in the house are not fond of it so everytime, I would cook some and eat it all by myself.

I just harvested my cangkok manis the other day…

…so right now, I will have to wait till the leaves have sprouted again before I can have anymore to eat. Incidentally, they are selling those organic hydroponic ones, all loose leaves in plastic bags, these days. Perhaps it is psychological, all my imagination, but I find that those are not as nice as the naturally-grown ones, sold still on their stalks and stems.

Well, the other day, I felt the need for some green leafy vegetables so I went to the solitary plot that I have left to harvest my Brazilian spinach…

I used to have a lot but since nobody wanted to eat, I got rid of the rest. I had to harvest regularly and I gave it all to my neighbour everytime. She seemed so delighted and kept saying that her grand-daughters enjoyed them so much! I did not want to do that too often in case they felt that I always gave to them things that I did not want.

That day, I did not have any prawns or sotong (squid) in my freezer so I fried it with garlic and ikan bilis (dried anchovies) and belacan (dried prawn paste)…

…and I also added some thinly-sliced fresh chili and an egg.

Yes, it was very nice…

…and there was enough for me for lunch and dinner.

As a matter of fact, there was a bit left at the end of the day but I was way too full so I just threw it away – there wasn’t enough to make it worth keeping and yes, that sure helped that evening and the next day when it was time for me to go and do you-know-what at you-know-where. LOL!!!

Make it ourselves…

Last Sunday, my girl said she wanted to make a pizza for Mother’s Day. “But that’s a week away,” I told her. “Next Sunday!” However, her mind was made up and she decided to go ahead with her plan.

She made her own pizza base – the bread dough type even though I know that actually, she likes thin crust. She opted for seafood topping so she used my stock of those giant prawns that I bought and was keeping in the freezer and there was a packet of mussels that had been there for a while now so she took that and used as well. Of course, she added a whole lot of cheese – mozzarella and parmesan and maybe, there was cheddar too along with some pesto that she made and she also added a whole lot of herbs and lastly, a generous sprinkling of chili flakes…

It turned out really great…

…with the variety of flavours from all the ingredients added and the bread crust was good too, soft and nice. There was enough for lunch and dinner so we did not bother to cook anything else that day.

In the meantime, my good friend/ex-classmate, Robert and his wife, Angela, dropped by my house and they gave me this…

…flour-free chiu chu koi (tapioca cake) that the latter made. Oooo…I have a weakness for these nyonya kuehs but right now, I need to watch my sugar intake!

I tried a bit and found that it was not sweet so I was able to nibble one whole slice…

…at one go and save the rest for another time, bit by bit.

Thank you so much, Angela and Robert!

Been thinking about it…

Ever since that time when I bought the fresh bay kar/ikan tenggiri/mackerel fish paste from this seafood stall near my house, I have been thinking of using it to make some tod mun pla (ทอดมันปลา) that I like very much.

My missus made some really lovely ones…

…before but unfortunately, she did not have all the ingredients that day so I did not get to enjoy what I was thinking of.

We had some nice ones (5 for RM12.50)…

…at the Thai restaurant here and here (3 for RM10.90)…

…but they have all called it a day now.

My friend, Peter, the boss of Payung, made some…

…for me once but they are not on their menu so I don’t think I will ever get to eat those again.

Well, it so happened that I managed to get two packs of fish paste (RM10.00 each)…

…from that seafood stall so I asked my missus to make more of her yummy Thai fish cakes and I went and bought a few strands of long beans and sliced them thinly…

…for her to use.

I did not notice it the previous time but this time around, I saw that it actually involved a whole lot of work. My missus had to prepare all the ingredients…

…including a lot of Thai basil leaves and sawtooth coriander from my garden and I heard a whole lot of pounding going on in the kitchen.

Finally, it was done…

…and we had that for lunch and dinner and there were some left over till the next day even. Compared to the prices I had to fork out at the Thai restaurants, this was indeed so very cheap, so many pieces for the RM20 worth of fish paste.

We used to buy the ones from Jakar or Sarikei…

…but those are seasoned and when making fish balls using those and cooking them, there is no need to add any salt or msg as there would be more than enough of those in the fish paste for the soup or whatever dish one is cooking…and one does not know what else they have added. This fish paste from the seafood stall is unadulterated, pure fish paste – no salt, no msg so one can add one’s own seasoning according to taste.

The fish stall is located to the right of CCL FRESH MINI MARKET against the wall at the end of the block to the right of the Grand Wonderful Hotel (2.309601, 111.845163) along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, on your left just before the Petronas petrol station a short distance from Delta Mall. You can also go in via Lorong Pipit 4, turning left into the lane at the junction where Starbucks Sibu is located and go straight ahead from there.

You can look…

…but mustn’t touch!

The other day, I got a message via Messenger on Facebook from my dear friend, the ever sweet and gorgeous Mary, asking me if I was at home. I said yes, I was but I am not accepting anything as I am now on a low carb, low sugar, low salt, low everything diet.

However, she insisted on dropping by to give me this…

…that her girl, Axia, had made.

Wool bread!!! Everyone is making it, it seems. I see the photographs all over Facebook like at one time when the pandemic just broke out and everyone was forced to stay home, there were snapshots of penyeram of all shapes and sizes in shades of brown and even, black!

Well, for the uninitiated, wool bread is just a simple milk bread and you can fill it with sweet or savoury fillings. The options are endless and you can definitely get creative with it. The name wool bread was given to this bread because of the design. People think it looks like spool or wool or yarn – hence the name wool bread!

The one that Axia…

…made had garlic filling and boy, the fragrance filled the whole house the moment I took it inside. If I am not wrong, it was that garlic and cheese filling…

…that one would get with those currently very popular Korean buns

Much as I would love to, I had to refrain from feasting on the lovely soft and fluffy bread so I just nibbled a bit while I watched the ladies in the house enjoying it to their hearts’ content.

Thank you so much, Mary and to you too, Axia!

In case anybody is interested, you can place an order for this stunning fresh mango cake with edible carnations from Axia…

…for Mother’s Day and you will get this complimentary Thai seafood salad…

…for your dinner that day. You can contact them via +6013-899 6868 to order and/or for further details on or before the 5th of May.

Lead me not into temptation for much as I would love to grab one to indulge in, I’m afraid I can only look but mustn’t touch. There are no sugar-free cakes, are there?

Worry not…

I enjoy eating sweet corn…

…the variety we have here that they call jagung Ligo after that popular brand of sweet corn kernels.

However, it is so very sweet so I was worried about the sugar content. That was why I went and googled to find out more about it. Well, according to this website, it is perfectly all right. I bought half a dozen that day and had two for tea that afternoon after which, I checked my blood sugar level – it was 6 something, not quite ideal but that was fine.

My late father had diabetes when he was younger. No, it was not hereditary or anything but more the result of his constant drinking of CocaCola. He was a businessman and he would order a bottle (Yes, they came in bottles at the time) from the nearby coffee shop in the morning and another one in the afternoon. If his friends dropped by to chat, he would call the coffee shop again and order drinks for them and probably another round of Coke for himself if he had finished his bottle for the morning or afternoon. The waiter would let him record everything in the small 555 notebook and he would pay the total at the end of every month.

However, my dad was a very determined individual, very strong-willed and he immediately cut out all intake of sugar, drinking nothing but Chinese tea from then onwards.

He also heard that the hair of the corn…

…was good for treating diabetes so he went round collecting all that he could find and dried them in the sun. He would boil it to make tea and drink and eventually, he managed to get everything under control.

We did not have sweet corn at the time and the variety available then wasn’t so nice and was not so popular. It must have been difficult getting hold of the hair but somehow or other, my father did manage. I never paid much attention to the use of the hair of the corn for treating diabetes even though it did seem to work but when I googled for whatever I could find about it, it turned out that it wasn’t some old wives’ tale, after all.

According to this website, the use of corn silk, or the hair of the corn, as a medicine was first recorded by a Chinese physician, Lan Mao and its nutrients and compounds are what lend it its medicinal/health properties. Where diabetes is concerned, the article goes on to say that corn silk has been used in Chinese medicine for controlling blood sugars for centuries. Animal studies in labs have also found that ingestion of corn silk helps control hyperglycemia by increasing the insulin levels in the blood. It has also been seen to help recover injured B cells of the pancreas, where insulin is produced. Hmmm…interesting, don’t you think?

Well, the other day, I saw them selling it at the neighbourhood shop round the corner from my house so of course, I bought half a dozen, 3 for RM5.00, 4 for RM6.00 in August, 2019 so despite the current trend, the price has not increased all that much.

As always, I peeled them, leaving the last layer intact…

…and boiled them in water…

…with some salt added and in no time at all, they were cooked and I could sit down and enjoy eating them…

Well, since it is all right to eat it, I certainly would buy some more should I happen to see them selling, that’s for sure but of course, like everything else, it is best not to go overboard, everything in moderation!

Colourless…

The other day, my girl said she was going to cook some nasi Arab. Well, I did not get my hopes up too high as I do know, for a fact, that it is not something easy to manage especially for someone who has never done it before.

I had some disappointing ones

…at a number of shops and so far, there was a good one here

…but it did not last very long and this one was good too but it was complimentary, not on the menu.

Ever so often, they call what they dish out nasi Arab or nasi biryani interchangeably and they even look similar…

…but based on the names alone, the former should be something from the Arabian countries while the latter is supposed to come from India.

I went and googled and found something called the kabsa, a rice dish that is enjoyed throughout the Gulf States of the Arabian Peninsula. Heavily influenced by Persian and Indian biryanis, the kabsa makes use of the water that is used to cook fish or meat and re-using it to cook the spiced, long-grain rice in it, perfectly blending all the flavours and spices. Aha!!! There is that Indian biryani influence after all so there should be some kind of similarity between the two.

My girl got down to work and work did seem like an understatement – it sure looked like there were a whole lot of things to do but she plodded on and on and on until finally, it was done…

For one thing, it was quite colourless but what it lacked in appearance, it sure made up for it in terms of flavours and fragrances.

I tried the rice – I could detect all the spices that had gone into the cooking. That reminded me of the biryani rice that the Indian chef at Payung gave me once. with “the overwhelming fragrances of the exotic spices used in the cooking“. His, however, was yellow in colour, the same as the very nice ones here, probably with the use of kunyit or turmeric (powder).

Peter, the boss of Payung, went to India, last year or was it the year before, before the pandemic outbreak and he said that he loved the biryani rice there. However, according to him, theirs was colourless, the meat was cooked in the rice but it was bursting with the flavours of the spices and the taste was simply out of this world – it was so very nice that he had to have it every meal the whole time he was in Delhi.

Personally, I felt that my girl’s nasi Arab that day…

…fit Peter’s description of the biryani rice he had in India but she did not add any seasoning – no salt, no msg so it was not salty. I could only detect the fragrances of the spices and the sweetness of the chicken used in the cooking. Personally, I wouldn’t mind it a little bit salty with the addition of a bit of chicken stock or the use of those chicken stock cubes or granules.

I was thinking that if she had a bit of the acar timun (cucumber pickle) by the side like the one in the photographs above, that would be very nice but no, nobody wanted the ayam berlada

…that the mum cooked. That would probably drown out all the subtle tastes and flavours in the nasi Arab so in the end, we left it untouched and saved it for another day.

Successful…

The other day, my girl said that she was going to make some Thai rice noodles. “Huh?” I thought to myself. “Isn’t that kway teow…or whichever way you are supposed to spell it in Malaysia these days?”

I did not say anything, of course and just let her go ahead with her plan. After all, our Sibu kway teow is generally thick, white and chewy, nothing like the lovely translucent, soft and smooth ones that I would get to enjoy over in West Malaysia.

It did not seem too difficult and she managed to make the kway teow

…successfully in no time at all.

After she had done that, she said that she would like to fry it but unfortunately, we did not have much in the fridge for her to use to cook a decent version of Penang char kway teow or the Thai pad Thai. Of course, there were those prawns that I bought to keep for use and we also had some Taiwanese sausages which nobody liked all that much – they came across more like lap cheong (Chinese sausages) and were kind of sweet.

No, we did not have any taugeh (bean sprouts), no see ham (cockles) and we had finished off all our sotong (squid) and fish balls and she was not keen on adding a bit of the cangkok manis from my backyard. In the end, she just had to make do with what we had and started by adding some sauces to season the kway teow

…and went on to fry it with whatever we had – basically, just the prawns, the Taiwanese sausages, egg and chopped spring onions from my garden…

…and yes, it was really very nice!

The texture of the kway teow did come across as being nicer than our local ones and there was enough that evening for the three of us to share for dinner (together with the dishes we had at hand that day) but I told my girl that she should double the amount of ingredients used the next time she makes more of this kway teow so there will be a lot more to go round plus we should get all the ingredients needed ready so we can have everything in it, just nice for a one-dish meal.

Incidentally, if anyone is keen on giving this a try, he or she can click this link to go to that website and see the recipe and how the blogger makes hers.

Blooming…

When you see lots and lots of durian flowers everywhere, you will know that the trees are blooming and you can expect a bumper harvest soon which, of course, is somewhat strange and out of season as it is the month of April and all throughout my growing up years, we would only get to see durians and all the other seasonal local fruits like the dabai and all the rest around the rainy/flood season called the landas at the end of the year.

Lately, I saw relatives and friends sharing on Facebook a whole lot of photographs of the durian flowers cooked in all kinds of ways. I used to get a lot from my in-laws as they had a tree and everyone would come from all around the neighbourhood to ask from them. Unfortunately. for reasons unknown, it never bore any fruit so they got rid of the tree.

The last time I got to eat any durian flower, I bought from a stall at the Sibu Central Market, twice but it is closed at the moment as there have been cases of COVID-19 reported there and anyway, even if it is open, you will not catch me anywhere near that place. A friend did ask me if I wanted any but I said no, thank you and the next thing I knew, my missus came home with a bag of it, RM3.70 at the neighbourhood shop that I frequent, round the corner from my house so we had that for lunch that day.

Right after that, an ex-colleague/friend PM-ed me via Facebook to ask me if I wanted any as the tree at her house was blooming too but I also said no, thank you to her as my missus had bought a bag of it already. Much to my surprise, a couple of days later, she and her hubby showed up at my gate to give me one HUGE bag of the durian flowers…

…thank you so much, Bing Bing & Edward.

Actually, my missus was cooking tom yam

…with the sotong (squid) and prawns that I bought not too long ago and I suggested adding the durian flowers to it but my suggestion fell on deaf ears. She just added some fresh sweet baby corn that we had in the fridge.

She cooked what she bought that day with sambal hay bee/udang kering (dried prawns) but it was a little laim liam (sticky) – probably when we removed the anthers, we missed some of them or perhaps there were some trapped in the rolled up petals and we did not bother to check. Besides, it was slightly sour and when I asked, she said she added a bit of tomato sauce. I don’t know why she did that but it sure was not compatible and no. we did not quite enjoy it that day.

This time around, she cooked the flowers masak lemak (with santan/coconut milk)…

…because my girl had mentioned in passing that the next time she had more of the flowers, she would like her to cook them this way and yes, it was so very very nice.

There was a lot of sauce/soup and there were still a lot of the flowers left so I suggested throwing them all in but no, once again, my suggestion fell on deaf ears. Obviously, she had another plan in mind which was to cook the flowers with sambal hay bee/dried prawns…

…again! This time around, it turned out perfect and was really very nice unlike the previous time.

Of course, that was a lot of durian flowers plus the tom yam soup for the three of us but my missus shared everything with my in-laws but even though there wasn’t too much in the end for us to manage, there was still some left over that we could heat up and enjoy the following day.

SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441) is located along Jalan Ruby, in the block of shops on the right – next to a hair salon at the extreme end and on the other end, to the left is the Kim Won Chinese Medical Store and Mini-supermarket.