Ta-ta…

My girl made this frittata

…the other day. For the uninitiated, according to Wiki, a frittata is an egg-based Italian dish similar to an omelette or crustless quiche or scrambled eggs, enriched with additional ingredients such as meats, cheeses or vegetables and according to allrecipes.com, it may be cooked stovetop or in the oven.

No, there was no meat in what my girl cooked that day – she baked hers in the oven. She did make it once before

…and I was of the opinion that it would be nicer with a bit of ham or bacon as in the case of quiches. I guess I’ve always been a meat person and no, she did not add any this time around either, just potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, cheese and egg…

I don’t know what she did differently but the colours sure looked nicer…

…than before.

On the whole, it was nice…

…very mild tasting. Perhaps she can try baking this in shortbread pastry next time for a change – I am quite sure the combination will bring the taste to a whole new level and personally, I do enjoy the crust in pies and quiches.

Honeybee…

My girl’s coursemate in Sg Petani & Wellington, New Zealand, Bubu, we call him, has been teaching here since 2013. I guess he is getting on pretty well with his missus and son and also in his school. With the pandemic, he has not gone back to Terengganu for so long now but now that they have opened up all borders and are allowing inter-district and inter-state travel, I am quite sure that they will go home when the school holidays come at the end of the year in December.

In the meantime, they have been very adventurous every weekend since they are free to move around without going through all those restrictions and what not. The previous week, they had a delightful weekend in Miri and last weekend, they were in Sarikei and yes, they went back to this bakery

…there again at this location…

…and they bought me some lovely stuff from there like what they did in December last year.

I remember they gave us the long cylindrical bun…

…the other time and it was very nice with its lovely custard cream filling. They did not give us the cheese stick then – my girl’s favourite so of course, I reserved that for her for her breakfast when she got up the next morning and yes, she said it was good.

This…

…was new too and no, there was no filling inside. It did not matter one bit though as I liked the bun in itself and the cheese, the custard and the sesame seeds coating outside plus all the raisins sure brought the overall taste to a whole new level. Yes, if I were to drop by this bakery, this is one bun that I would want to buy.

They gave us these butter milk buns…

…last year and they gave us a pack again this time around. Unlike the square-shaped ones from the bakeries in Sibu, these were rectangular, longish in shape and one stark difference would be how generous they were with the lovely butter milk filling – they gave so much of it throughout the length of each bun unlike the Sibu ones where once you’ve bitten off the little that they have inside, you are left with just the plain bun to finish off completely kosong. You can take my word for it – these are very good too, not to be missed if you stop by here.

Thank you so much, Bubu, Suzie & Faaeq – it was so sweet of you all to think of us and to take the trouble of sending them over to my house. Much obliged, indeed!

HONEYBEE BAKERY (2.130238, 111.518739) is just next to SugarBun Sarikei at No. 75, Jalan Masjid Lama.

Wrong is right…

My girl was delighted when the mum told her that she would cook Sarawak laksa last Friday, our no-meat day. Usually, I would be the one doing everything but since she said she would do that, I just let her do it.

She did go out two days earlier as there were things running out in the house and she had to go and buy those. While she was at one of the neighbourhood shops, she simply grabbed one of the laksa sambal paste and it turned out that it was not the usual brand that I would always use. I always stick to the helang (eagle) brand but I’ve heard of people going for the parrot one.

The one that my missus bought was neither one nor the other but the label and the colours are more or less the same as the aforementioned two – I don’t know why they do that! It said A1 but there was no mention of where it was made, just that it was packed by this place here in Sibu. Well, since she had bought it already, she decided to go ahead and use it.

We had most of the ingredients in the freezer…

…so when I got up early that morning, I took them out to defrost – some of the prawns from the 5 kilos I bought that day and the mussels and seafood tofu, left over from our steamboat dinner last month.

My missus also bought some taugeh (bean sprouts) when she went out that day, a bit too early, I must say so I had to remove not only the tails but parts that had turned a little brown. I think those were what was left over from that morning so there were a whole lot of those short bits at the bottom that I just threw away. In the end, after blanching in hot water, there wasn’t all that much left…

…but that was more than enough – after all, we did not need a lot, just a bit for garnishing prior to serving.

I did go out that morning to buy the tofu puffs…

…that my girl seems to like a lot in her laksa. They do give those at the laksa shops and stalls here but no, you will never find anyone doing that in Kuching. It is just not a standard condiment in the dish.

I also bought some daun sup (Chinese celery)…

…that I chopped ready for use later and my missus fried some omelette and sliced…

…but she did not add any salt or msg so it was rather bland.

She soaked some bihun in boiling water to soften and soon, everything was ready. We put everything in a bowl…

…and poured the broth over everything and ate with the sambal belacan my missus pounded and a squeeze of calamansi lime juice…

Yes, it was very nice – the wrong laksa sambal paste that my missus bought turned out all right, after all. I sure would not mind using this brand when I cook this next time.

Fussy…

I was thinking of having some more of the very nice nasi lemak bungkus that I bought the other day so I hopped over to the neighbourhood fruit & vegetables sundry shop in the next lane.

Unfortunately, they did not have any that day. I saw a tray of kuih lenggang/ketayap

…but I did not feel like having those and the steamed baos…

…and pumpkin kuih had meat in them and those sandwiches too…

They had egg but I could jolly well make my own if I wanted that.

I saw these…

…but the lady boss said there was chicken inside even though I could not see any. I was thinking that they added a bit of chicken floss when they made those – they do like to do that at some places here.

I bought the things I wanted and not wanting to give up just yet, I asked the son and he told me that there wasn’t any chicken in the sushi, just tuna…

Of course I wasted no time in grabbing a pack and headed straight home.

I thought they were good enough – I’m not fussy even though we can make our own, just as nice or even nicer. At RM8.00 for a pack of 12…

…I reckoned they were cheaper than at the Japanese joints in town.

I did try adding a bit of mayo…

…but no, I did not think that it made much of a difference. They were nice with or without the mayonnaise.

My girl liked them so I guess I will be buying them again the next time I see any at the shop.

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.

Scones…

The other day, my girl and her mum made these beauties…

…for afternoon tea.

That brought to mind one of the episodes in the Singapore hit comedy series where the very pretentious, class-conscious sister-in-law, Margaret, was going on and on about these traditional English culinary delights and that prompted Phua Chu Kang to ask the mother, “Ah Ma! What are scones?” LOL!!! This was probably before I went to Plymouth in the UK in 1994 but yes, I did know at the time what scones were, thankfully. I am quite sure, however, that I had never tried any before at the time.

If I remember correctly, the first time, maybe the only time, I had the opportunity to enjoy an authentic traditional Devon cream tea was when we were invited to one during our courtesy visit to the Mayor of Plymouth. It was love at first bite, that first time when I had those extra rich buttery scones with clotted cream and fruit jam. I had coffee, of course – all my life, I have always been a coffee person, not so much into tea.

We do not have any place serving that here, not then and not now…or none that I know of so upon coming home, I never had it again. I think I did see some at some bakeries…

…in town and I did try one or two but no, they came nowhere near. Probably they did not use butter and the texture and everything were not quite there. I never bothered to buy any of those pathetic ones ever again after that.

I did see some when I was in Auckland, New Zealand…

…but I did not order any to try and I did not get to try the ones at the English Tea House in Sandakan either but a cousin of mine in Kuching sent me two…

…very nice ones that were just like the real thing that I had in the UK – I sure loved them a lot even though I did not have them with clotted cream and fruit jam and I kept praising them to the skies. Seeing that, my very dear friend, since deceased, went and bought some…

…for me (in the paper bag) so I was able to have another round of those.

I came across this recipe on Facebook and I sent it to my girl but of course, I did not insist that she made some for me. The headline reads, “Teringin nak makan scone? Wanita tinggal di luar negara ini tunjukan cara. Rupanya guna 3 bahan. Mudah nak buat.” (Translation: Yearning to eat scones? Lady living overseas shows the way. Using 3 ingredients, it seems. Easy to make.)

No, they did not follow that recipe that day, my girl and her mum – they used another one that the latter stumbled upon from somewhere else and of course, we were elated that they turned out so so so good…

The texture was perfect – so crusty and crumbly and with the irresistible rich buttery fragrance, it was virtually impossible to stop at just one or two.

I did see them selling clotted cream once at that supermarket in town but no, we did not bother to go out of our way to go there and buy – they most probably do not have it anymore. We just had the scones with butter and the lovely no-sugar-added roselle jam…

…that my sister-in-law made and gave to us.

I sure enjoyed them to the max and the ladies were no less excited over their success. The fruits of their labour had turned out so well and they kept singing their praises. Hopefully, they will make some more sometime soon in the not-too-distant future.

You’ve got the look…

I had just finished writing my post on my bottles of Bovril that day when I received a call from my sister telling me that she would be coming over to my house.

Much to my surprise, when she came, she gave me this…

One glance at it and you will know what it is instantly, of that I am pretty sure. I must say it sure has got the look, the shape of the bottle, the black colour and all that red in the label and the cover as well.

Well, this is the Taiwanese version of Bovril, real beef, I hear but I really can’t tell as other than the three at the top, I can’t read a word of what is on the label at the back…

– it’s all Greek to me! My sister told me that her friend got this online and was selling it at over RM32.00, almost the same as the vegetarian one I blogged about earlier but this is a slightly bigger bottle, 500 gm while that one is only 470 gm. and of course, it is a whole lot cheaper than the two that I bought with real beef paste from the supermarket here.

She did hear from people that it is very nice but since I have just started with my bottle, the vegetarian one, the other day, I guess I shall have to wait till I have finished that one first before opening this one to try. I went and googled and found that it is only available online but they do have it at a place called Hock Seng Trading in Miri, going for RM19.90 (original price RM25.90). Gee!!! It sure looks like they do make quite a bundle doing this online business thing!

Ah well!!! Looking on the bright side, at least I do not have to scrimp and save and use sparingly now to stretch the existing bottle to make it last as long as possible. LOL!!!

My sister also gave me these…

…to try that day.

Her ex-student has gone into this home baking business and she asked her to try her sio bao (baked meat buns/dumplings)…

I must say that we liked them a lot. The pastry was great, nice and crusty and crumbly and she was very generous with the filling…

…and it tasted good too except that it was a tad too salty. She probably would have to do something about that to get it just right.

As they are reasonably priced at RM2.00 each, I sure wouldn’t mind buying from her to keep and heat up to enjoy as and when we feel like having them.

Make it last…

It didn’t last too long, did it? I bought two small bottles of Bovril, the real thing with “high protein beef paste”…

…in May this year and when we had porridge the other day, I finished the second bottle. That did not even last half a year, it seems…and they did not come cheap, RM25.50 a bottle, over RM50.00 for the two.

I never took note of the price when I bought a bottle before but I can vaguely remember that it was always over RM20.00 each. I remember that one time in 2018 when there was a promotion and I got a bottle for only RM26.00…

…and that came with a small one valued at RM10.50 a bottle absolutely free.

Never mind what the price was, it was very difficult getting hold of any when stocks ran out. I usually got mine from one of my neighbourhood shops and when none was forthcoming and they told me about the ones available at a supermarket in town, I finally managed to grab the two small bottles that I mentioned earlier.

Not long after that, I was at another one of my neighbourhood shops and some guy came and asked if they had any Bovril and they said they had. Initially, he was reluctant to buy as they only had the big bottles (470 gm)…

…but since they did not have anything smaller, he bought one in the end.

I was at that shop again not too long ago and I saw that they only had a few bottles left (though there were still quite a number of bottles of Marmite) so I decided to grab one and store in my pantry. However, I don’t think there is any cause for worry anymore nowadays as I saw that they had fresh stocks at the other neighbourhood shop where I used to get mine before and somebody told me that unlike earlier in the year, it is easily available everywhere now, even in some pharmacies in town.

I wonder if they can get it in Australia now – that day when I shared something on Facebook, my cousin in Perth said that it was not available there, the vegetarian version…

– out of stock! The real beef ones have been banned for a long time now, she said – they have always been very strict about food imports, meat especially, Australia and New Zealand. Of course you will not find any beef in the list of ingredients, just yeast extract like in the case of Marmite but I am not too concerned as they have managed to ensure that the taste stays more or less the same.

They are still made in the UK…

…unlike many products that are now manufactured in Malaysia, MILO, for instance and many will tell you that it is not as nice as the Australian ones which, of course, are a lot more expensive.

Nevertheless, I was rather shocked to see the current price…

…these days. Gosh!!! No wonder they are kept in glass cabinets under lock and key in some shops and supermarkets. That is around £5 in their currency or AUD$10.00 – I wouldn’t know whether the people there would consider that affordable or otherwise.

We sure can feel the pinch here and seeing how the expiry date is not until this month next year, I certainly would not be so generous with it when I toss my Bovril mee sua

…or Bovril mee kua/mee sanggul

…or when I add some to my porridge to make it last for as long as I can.

KIM TAK MINI SUPERMARKET is located along Jalan Ruby, in the block of shops on the left of the parking area – AH KAU CAFE (2.316346, 111.839861) and LOUIS BAKERY LW.Pattisserie (2.316411, 111.839847) are located in that same block to the extreme left and KIM WON CHINESE MEDICAL STORE AND MINI-SUPERMARKET is located on the left of the block of shops to the right with Swee Hung (2.316161, 111.840441) and the Bethel Hair Salon at the other end.

Conditioning…

In my growing up years, whenever I fell ill, my dad would take me to see a doctor. To him, a good doctor would be one who would give an injection for instant relief and recovery. Shudders!!! Otherwise he would say that was a lousy doctor and he would never take me there ever again.

My mum would cook porridge for me to eat, mixed with either Bovril or Marmite – those were the days when we were a British colony, remember? She would fry one or chio (ikan bawal hitam/black pomfret)…

…tear the meat into bits and pieces and sprinkle them all over the porridge and there would also be salted eggs as well. That would be my diet everytime I fell sick so much so that on days when I was not sick and we had porridge, I would also feel that I was under the weather. If I am not wrong, in psychology, this is called behavioral conditioning – we studied about this in ELT (English Language Teaching).

I think this went on till my late teenage days when my friends and I would go dancing at the SRC (Sibu Recreation Club) after which we would go to the hawker stalls on the 1st Floor of the Sibu Central Market, opposite the Palace Theatre in between Market Road & High Street at the time, for supper and we would have porridge. I cannot remember what else we had with the porridge, just the plain fried kangkong (water spinach)…

…that we would order without fail. I wouldn’t know if we were so hungry after all that partying or it was really so very nice.

Years later, when I was living in Kuching, after our dances at places like the Jubilee Hall, we would head to this section of the Open Air Market…

…and yes, no prize for guessing what we had there. Porridge!!! LOL!!! Of course, by then, I had got over this thing about feeling sick everytime I had porridge. As a matter of fact, I actually developed a liking for it so to this very day, I sure wouldn’t mind having that at home on some days.

I blogged about having it for breakfast in the early morning here and also, here and it so happened that the other day, my missus said we would be having porridge for our meals. My girl was delighted – unlike me in my younger days, she enjoys porridge very much.

We had this dish of pork belly steamed with long kiam hu (the fermented salted fish) and ginger…

…and my missus also fried some salted vegetables…

…with marinated pork belly…

We had salted eggs…

…too but this batch was not so much to my liking – they were too salty. Thankfully, they were quite edible – sometimes, the salted eggs turned out so horrible, looking like agar agar in a sickly colour and they had to be thrown away.

I had my porridge with Bovril but actually, it would be nice enough with the sauce from either the pork belly or the salted vegetable dish. My girl enjoys her porridge plain, eaten together with the two dishes that the mum cooked but she did not touch the salted egg – I guess she is not into that so much. I did not see my missus taking out her tau ju (fermented tofu) – she loves eating her porridge with that; perhaps she had run out and there wasn’t any in the fridge.

What about you all? Do you enjoy porridge too? What do you like to eat with it? Pig’s blood, perhaps?…

I sure would love that! LOL!!!

Chicken fried…

Come to think of it, we hardly ever cook our own fried chicken even though we may tapao some from Colonel Sanders or our own Sarawak franchise once in a long while to eat at home. I suppose that is a good thing as fried chicken, though the favourite of many, is not all that healthy and we should limit the number of times and not go for those that frequently.

Instead, we often roast our chicken…

We just marinate a thigh or two or some chicken wings and put them in the oven to roast/bake. This is definitely a lot healthier than deep frying.

That day, my girl had some free time on her hands so she said she would do the cooking for the day. She marinated the chicken thigh with lemon juice, a bit of evaporated milk and some rosemary and Italian herbs and placed it in a baking tray, lined with aluminum foil, to bake in the oven…

It turned out really nice and for dinner, she roasted another one of the same…

We sure enjoyed our meals that day.

Of course, there are so many ways you can marinate the chicken – it is up to your imagination. As a matter of fact, even if you just rub the meat with salt and pepper, it will be very nice already as you can get to enjoy the sweetness of the meat.

We have the chicken steamed when my missus cooks her most delightful chicken rice and she also has some stir-fry recipes for chicken for instance, the one with potatoes in soy sauce or the one with ang chao (the red lees from the making of the traditional Foochow red wine)…

Otherwise, we can always cook curry…

…with it or one of those delightful Malay(sian) dishes.

Sometimes, we cook chicken soup with char bee lau (the fragrant root) or with seng see, dong quai and all the rest (at times, wrapped and steamed…

…like how they do it at the Chinese restaurants) or with our traditional Foochow red wine and lots of ginger and everything else…

…like what I did the other day for the mee sua (thread/strong longevity noodles) for my girl’s birthday.

Talking about the latter, I did not cook all the chicken, just the thighs and the wings so we still had some of the meat leftover. The other day, I took it and cooked chicken soup with it in that exact same way. We are not fond of the meat (breast) but the soup is nutritious and we do enjoy that. There was some leftover and I also found a tub of bihun in the fridge, pre-soaked to soften – my missus fried some one morning and for reasons unknown, she did not fry all of it. I heated up the soup and had it with the bihun

…for my breakfast. It was all right but I think I prefer mee sua or even hung ngang (the thick bihun).

What about all of you? How do you usually cook and eat chicken in your homes?

Never like this…

My girl loves sotong (squid)…

As a matter of fact, I seem to notice that she likes it more than prawns, never mind whether it is the seawater variety (pek hay) or our freshwater prawns (chia chui hay)/tua thow hay (big headed prawns) or udang galah in Malay. We had these very regularly way back then, cooked with egg and ginger in soy sauce…

…or masak kunyit (cooked with turmeric)

Unlike now, it was never like this in my growing up years. I do not recall ever eating sotong at home or outside (not that we dined out a lot way back then) or on days when my dad would bring the tiffin carrier and buy food home for our meals from here. Perhaps my dad did not like its chewy and rubbery texture or perhaps, we just did not fancy it so much in our growing up years. That sure saved my mum the trouble of going through the tedious task of cleaning and preparing them.

Yes, we did get to eat the red cuttlefish whenever we had sotong kangkong (jiew hu eng chai)…

…and we so loved the ones at this Malay guy’s stall outside the Lido Cinema – he would panggang (toast) the cuttlefish over a charcoal fire and then he would hammer it till it was totally mashed and we would enjoy it dipped in his own-made chili dip. That was so good but unfortunately, there’s nobody selling that anymore – there used to be those made using machine and of course, they came nowhere near.

Fast forward to 1973, when I was in Singapore – I was renting a room at a flat in the Katong area and I would walk to a coffee shop at the junction of Telok Kurau Road and East Coast Road where there was an Indian/mamak stall. I used to buy SGD$1.00 sotong cooked in curry or whatever and they would give me so much to eat with rice. It must have been so cheap at the time but in Penang in 2011, I had to fork out RM11.00 for ONE, quite a big one, with the nasi biryani that I had. It sure is not all that cheap anymore these days, around RM20.00 a kilo at my favourite fish & seafood stall near my house.

We used to order it when eating out, what they call the salad sotong

…or the sotong with dried chili…

…but I do not know any place here where they would cook it in that same way as my missus, with turmeric (kunyit) and asam (tamarind) along with a whole lot of other ingredients…

…and yes, we love it this way – it’s really good!

It so happened that my missus was frying some banana fritters that morning and she used a bit of the batter to fry some of the sotong

…and yes, it turned out to be really very nice too.

We do not have anymore in the freezer now – I bought these that day for our steamboat dinner but my missus said she forgot to take them out and anyway, we had a whole lot of things already then. Needless to say, I shall be looking out for some fairly big ones at my favourite fish & seafood stall in my neighbourhood to buy and keep in our freezer so we can have these to enjoy again in days to come.