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Hello Dolly!…

…or Dollee, to be exact!

Well, if you’re wondering what I am going on about, not too long ago, my friend in Sydney, Australia cooked some curry laksa using this instant paste…

Tean curry laksa paste

…and the bowl in the photograph that she shared on Facebook sure looked good. Obviously, you can buy this Down Under and in that post, she also asked if this…

Dollee curry laksa paste

…was any good. A friend of hers was quick to point out the error in their spelling of kari (curry in Malay) as cari (pronounced as cha-ri, search) but when I looked carefully, they did get the “Pes Kari Laksa” absolutely correct – I wonder if that is in another language.

No, I had no intention of cooking that very popular noodle dish in the peninsula – what I had in mind was to try and use the paste to cook some sayur lodeh or what we call sayur masak lemak here. I’ve tried this brand but no, it did not turn out like the real thing, not at all. The only time when I did manage to get it exactly the way I wanted it was when I used this brand from Singapore but that is extremely expensive – around RM18.00 a box now, if I’m not wrong, and I certainly would not want to fork out that amount of money just for this.

Well, I had some prawn stock in the freezer (from boiling the heads and shell of some prawns that I bought some time ago) so I did not need any seafood to enhance the flavour of the broth. I just brought the stock to boil and emptied the contents of the packet, the Dollee, that is, into it. Then I added the sweet potatoes…

Sweet potatoes & baby corn

…peeled and cut into chunks and boiled those for a while first, considering that they would take a while to soften. Then, I put in the baby corn, cut into quarters.

The bean curd sticks, soaked in hot water to soften…and the tofu puffs, cut into quarters, went in next…

Bean curd sticks, tofu puffs and cabbage

…and after that, I added a box of santan, the same brand I used for my pankek that day, and once it had started boiling again…

Boiling

…I added the cabbage…

Cabbage

…and turned off the heat to let it cook in the residual heat and that was it!

A word of caution here – do not add too much of everything unless you want to end up with a huge cauldron that would take ages to finish. Other things that we sometimes add to our sayur masak lemak include paku (wild jungle fun) or cangkuk manis, for a bit of green colour, young buah tupang/pulo and corn on the cob cut into short lengths would add to the sweetness, that’s for sure. Usually, we would use our udang galah (bamboo prawns) – our freshwater prawns and that would give the dish a touch of red and you can add fresh chilies for that same purpose too, if you want. My mum would add tang hoon (glass noodles) as well but that would be best added right before serving or they would soak up all the broth and you would end up getting something quite dry.

So what was my verdict? Well, I would say it was very nice…

Done

…and spicy though a little bit salty (maybe I did not add enough water or there wasn’t enough stock) but generally, I would say that the soup would make a lovely bowl of curry mee, as nice as any that I had had before in KL or in Penang or here, maybe even nicer…but no, it was nothing near what our sayur masak lemak would taste like.

Now, if you are not familiar with the dish and are wondering what it is like actually, you can go for a bowl of Katong 328 nyonya curry laksa – that, I would say is exactly like it! Perhaps if I use half a packet of the paste instead, and dilute it a bit more so the curry taste will not be all that strong…and maybe, add a bit more santan, I may get something a little closer. I will try that with the other brand.

Anyway, the next morning, I still had a lot of the broth left, not much of the ingredients so I used it to cook this curry laksa bihun

Curry laksa bihun 1

…for breakfast and yes, it was absolutely perfect. Very very nice…

Curry laksa bihun 2

…and not salty anymore (I did add a little bit of water to it.). I most certainly enjoyed that bowl of goodness! Yum! Yummmmm!!!!

Once more…

Yes, I dropped by this place once more the other day with my missus. I think I did mention before that my house is close by so it is quite convenient for us to stop by for lunch before going home and we would not need to worry about cooking…till later in the day, for dinner.

So what did I try this time around? I’ve had their nasi lemak and the char kway teow, the Sarawak laksa and the beef noodles too so that morning, I decided to order the chicken curry rice (RM5.50)…

Colourful Cafe chicken curry rice

…to see if it was any good. The curry was nice though it was not at all spicy so I was not too thrilled by it. Other than that, I think it came with plain rice – I was hoping it would be something like what they have in Kuching where they serve chicken rice, topped with char siew, roast pork and steamed or roast chicken and drowned with curry gravy (never mind that it is rather diluted usually) but of course, that would not be possible here as it has been designated as a “serves-no-pork” place.

I do think it would be nicer if I had ordered the nasi lemak special (RM7.00) and asked for the chicken drumstick curry to go with it but between this and the masak hitam beef that I had the other day, the latter wins hands down, no question about that.

My missus had the Sarawak laksa (RM5.00)…

Colourful Cafe Sarawak laksa

…that I had the other day and yes, she liked it very much and the sambal belacan dip…

Colourful Cafe sambal belacan dip

…that came with it was pretty good too. They did not seem too generous with it though but I guess if you want some more, you can always ask. I would not think that would be a problem.

While we were there, I decided to order something else and as I did not feel like having their bitter gourd bihun, I had the kampua noodles (RM3.00)…

Colourful Cafe kampua 1

…in the end. I did not get my hopes up too high since this being a pork-free place, there would not be any lard in the dish so there would not be that much-coveted fragrance that true-blue kampua mee lovers would go for.

The noodles were firm, not quite like what many here seem to enjoy – they like it soft but if not cooked to perfection, they may come out too soft and soggy and I am no fan of that, of course. I guess if anyone wants the noodles softer, they can tell them to cook them a wee bit longer but it was perfectly all right by me. As for the missing lard taste, it was replaced by the really nice fragrance of the fried shallots…and I was  able to detect some fried garlic in it as well…

Colourful Cafe kampua 2

All in all, I would say it was very nice and I sure would want to have that again. I wonder if they sell it kosong (empty) or not (at a cheaper price, of course) as I did not quite care for those strips of boiled chicken breast meat.

I browsed through the menu and I saw this…

Colourful Cafe menu

It seems that if you are entertaining at home and you are too lazy too cook, you can order some of the items from here. I can vouch for the daging masak hitam and the sambal bilis…and I would have liked the chicken curry that I had more if it had been a lot spicier. The insurance guy next door told me that he had bought the paste to try and the amount at that price was good for 3 kilogrammes of beef, less than RM7.00 a kilo so it is not a lot more expensive than those packs of instant curry paste that are flooding the supermarkets around here. As for the rest, I have yet to sample them so I am in no position to comment on those.

They have some stuff on their evening/night menu that are not available in the morning/daytime so I may have to drop by again sometime to see if those are any good but if the ones that I have had are anything to go by, I guess they should be pretty o.k. as well.

I honestly love you…

I went out early last Sunday morning to tapao (takeaway) the very nice fried kway teow at this shop for the ladies in the house for breakfast. I reckoned they must be very tired of my fried rice and fried bihun so the previous week, I bought them some kampua noodles and piansip and this week, I went for something different. Both the shops were very near my house so it wasn’t much of  a problem for me to do that.

It was still very early, around 7 something, but it was already bright and sunny…

Mormon church

The weather here has been very hot lately.

Since I was there, I decided to try something that I had not tried yet – so far, we had their fried kway teow, their nasi lemak and their Sarawak laksa…so this time around, I ordered their beef noodles (RM6.00) which was served in a jiffy, steaming hot…

Colourful Cafe beef noodles 1

Hmmm…I would ask them to leave out the raw taugeh (bean sprouts) next time as I am not all that fond of their chao chay (green) smell/taste. In Sarawak laksa, they are usually blanched lightly and anyway, the strong broth would overpower whatever smell or taste there is left.

So was it any good?…

Colourful Cafe beef noodles 2

I would say that I liked it – this one was different from the Taiwan-style ones but the soup was not as clear as the ones here. I could detect the fragrance of the spices used though I did think it could do with a stronger beef taste but still, I would say that it was nicer than a lot of the others that I have had around here. I really enjoyed it with the very nice chili dip…

Colourful Cafe beef noodles chili dip

…that came with it. It was very spicy and very very gingery – something like the excessively hot cili padi dip from Kah Heong in Kota Kinabalu but thankfully, it was not that hot!

While I was there enjoying my order, I could smell the santan (coconut milk) fragrance of the nasi lemak that he was cooking in one huge rice cooker…and I really enjoyed the light and easy songs they were playing, such as this one and this one, accompanied by the occasional banging of the wok as the guy was dishing out the fried kway teow I had ordered. The kopi-o-peng (RM1.70) was extra nice…

Colourful Cafe kopi-o-peng

…that morning – something that I did not feel on my two previous visits. Perhaps I was the first customer, so early in the morning, so I got to enjoy the fresh brew…or maybe it was because I was the only customer at the time so the “barista” could pay a little more attention to what he was doing and did a better job than usual.

Now, if anyone is wondering about that MILO mug, here, it is a requirement stipulated by our municipal council that all utensils at all eating places must be sterilised in hot boiling water in a mug like that for customers to use and I do think that this is a commendable effort to ensure cleanliness and safeguard the health, to some extent, of the people here.

I finished my delightful breakfast, paid for everything and left the shop. However, it so happened that I was dilly-dallying outside a bit while browsing through the internet on my mobile when the girl waiting at the tables in the shop came out to pass me this…

Lost and found

Good grief! That’s where I keep my identity card, my driving license, credit cards and all that kind of stuff! I was thinking that if ever I were to be pickpocketed or happened to lose my wallet somehow, I would still have those essential items, safe and sound. Perhaps I should keep those first two separately so should I inadvertently lose one, I would still have the other.

It must have dropped out of my pocket as I was taking out my wallet to pay and it certainly was very honest and nice of the girl to come running to return it to me, thank God for small mercies!

What else is there…

Last Saturday, we went back to this coffee shop for lunch.

I went around the stalls to have a look to see what else there was that we had not tried and I came across this…

YummyFafe roti canai kuchai

roti canai with kuchai (chives). That was RM2.00 a piece and it came with the bowl of dhal dip, and no, it was not chewy or rubbery, not stretchable like roti canai as we know it. In fact, it was crusty and crispy, something like the Indian pancake or aloo paratha that we had once here. The texture was more like those frozen roti canai or paratha that we can buy at the supermarkets and pan-fry them ourselves at home to eat. It probably would have been nicer if they had used butter or ghee, at least for the frying part, and no, I would not say that it swept me off my feet even though it was quite nice – something one may consider when thinking having something different for a change.

My girl’s colleague/housemate/friend ordered the curry mee (RM4.00)…

YummyKafe curry mee

…expecting to get something like the ones in the peninsula, with the curry gravy but no, it turned out to be something fried, something like mee mamak but with curry powder added. She said it was all right though and she quite enjoyed it.

My missus had the Foochow fried noodles (RM4.00)…

Foochow fried mee

…and no, this was not done in the same style that I grew up eating and would prefer a lot more – the gravy was kind of clear so even though it might be nice, it was simply not the same. This and the curry mee were from the chu-char (cook & fry) place at the back portion of the coffee shop…and I noticed that they had rounded up the price, instead of the usual RM3.80 at some other places. That is perfectly all right though, I would say, considering that we did see a lot of ingredients like the meat and green vegetables in my missus’ order…unlike many other places around here these days.

Needless to day, my girl wanted the beef noodles (RM6.00)…

YummyKafe beef noodles

…that she loved a lot and I also ordered a bowl for myself. I don’t know whether it was the heat (it has been very very hot here lately) but I thought it was not as nice as before – the broth did not seem as thick and rich but when I asked my girl, she said it was the same. I do wish they could have an option though – one that has beef tendon and tripe added…at a price, of course. I would go for that one, that’s for sure!

I also ordered these dumplings (10 for RM6.00)…

YummyKafe dumplings

…to share, knowing that my girl loves them too…and that was our lunch that day.

Incidentally, an old friend from Penang flew in on Friday night but of course, like on most/all weekends, with my girl home, I was kind of tied up with her weekly visit to see her grandparents, driving her here and there to stock up on their rations for the week ahead and to buy any necessities that she would need for school and on Saturday night, we would have to go for the sunset service in church and come Sunday, I would have to drive her back to her school.

This friend and I were involved with some work for the ministry along with the couple who came from Trengganu that day so we would meet quite regularly, once a year, at least, during those days prior to my retirement. He was busy Saturday, anyway, as he was here on a working trip but I really felt bad that at such short notice, I was not able to make time to meet up. He was so sweet and thoughtful as to bring these celebrated tambun biscuits…

Tambun biscuits from Penang

..all the way from Penang for me and he sent them to me through a friend in that same line of duty, so to speak.

My sincere apologies to him…but I did tell him that I hope he would come back someday, not on a brief working trip like this time around, and stay longer so I would be able to take him around like what I did for our Trengganu friends last year…and he would have to let me know way ahead of time.

Not that different…

I was somewhat intrigued when I saw the pankeks served at one place in Sean’s blog and I made up my mind right away that I would like to give it a try.

So when my girl was coming home last Friday, I pounded some pandan (screwpine) leaves, added a quarter cup of water and squeezed out the juice…

Pandan juice

…and I replaced the evaporated milk in the original recipe with a packet of santan (coconut milk)…

Santan

Other than that, I reduced the sugar from 3 tablespoons to 2 as I reckoned the santan would be sweet as well and anyway, I am cutting down on sugar (other than oil, salt and msg) these days and would not go for anything that’s too sweet.

Otherwise, it was the same recipe that we would usually follow where we would beat 125 gm of butter (half a block) with the aforementioned sugar and then add three eggs…

Butter sugar eggs

…and beat them altogether well.

The flour would go in next…

Flour
*This was the 2nd cup*

…one cup at a time with half of the cup of santan/pandan juice mix.

Once the batter was smooth, that would be the time to add the three teaspoons of ENO…

ENO

…and the whipping would continue for just a little bit more to mix everything together well.

After greasing the heated pan with butter, you would need to add the batter, a bit at a time, and spread it out and once you could see the bubbles appearing, that would mean you could flip it over in a bit to cook the other side. Keep the fire at medium, not high so that the pancake would brown nicely and will not get burnt.

Once done, remove from the pan and place on some kitchen towels before moving the pankek onto a plate to serve…

Done

With the amount of ingredients used, I was able to dish out quite a lot – one whole stack…

One stack

…in fact!

Indeed, it was very nice with a hint of the taste and fragrance of the santan and pandan (my missus thought I added kaya, coconut jam) though mine had a very slight tint of green…

Pankek

…not like the ones Sean had.

So there you have it! Pankek, the Malaysian version of the pancake, kek being the word for cake in Malay!

Beg to differ…

I came across belacan bihun at one place in Kuching a long time ago, a circular building in the Padungan area, around Jubilee Ground or something. My friends took me there but I had just had lunch at the time so I did not want to order that to try.

For one thing,  the belacan (dried prawn paste) smell was very strong – once you reach the place, you will be able to smell nothing but that! Some people may not like it like how some tourists from abroad are put off by the smell of durians. However, I must say it was very popular and everyone there was eating that. I did cast a glance at it and it looked like bihun (rice vermicelli) served with toppings of cuttle fish and strip of cucumber and taugeh (bean sprouts) drowned in the belacan broth. You can see a photograph of it in this blog…but that looked like a different place. The one I went to was this one, also featured in the same blog.

Well, I don’t think I will want to cook the same soup version so I beg to differ and cook mine differently. It so happened that the other day, I fried some  leftover rice with belacan added and it turned out very nice and I guessed I could do the same with bihun. These were the ingredients that I used…

Belacan bihun ingredients

– one shallot, peeled and sliced, two cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped finely, two fresh chilies, seeds removed and thinly sliced, some belacan, minced/chopped, a handful of ikan bilis (dried anchovies) and bihun, soaked to soften…plus some spring onions from my garden, chopped finely to use as garnishing.

Firstly, I fried the ikan bilis in a bit of oil till a little brown and then I pushed that aside to fry the shallot and garlic…

Frying

…and then, in went the belacan and the chilies, saving a bit of the latter for garnishing as well. I was caught up with trying to take clear photographs in the midst of the hot steam coming out from the wok so the ingredients got a little burnt…so I gave up trying to multi-task – cook and take snapshots at the same time. As the proverb goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Tsk! Tsk!

I quickly put in the bihun and mixed it well and lastly, I broke an egg into the wok and fried it with everything else in it and then I pushed it all aside and broke another egg, breaking the yolk and spreading everything all over. When it was a little bit cooked, I moved the bihun over right on top of that second egg and once it was done, I dished everything out and served…

STP's fried belacan bihun 1

…garnished with the aforementioned spring onions and sliced chilies.

If you’re wondering what on earth I was doing with the egg, actually, I was trying to replicate what they do with the very popular Ah Tor kway teow here and I would say that it was QUITE successful. For one thing, there was not enough egg to “wrap” all the bihun…

STP's fried belcan bihun 2

…so the egg covered only a section of the bihun.

It would have been just right if it had been one egg to one plate or one serving of bihun

STP's fried belacan bihun 3

…and besides, I think I should beat the egg first before pouring it into the wok so it would be all yellow and there would not be those huge patches of egg white.

Ah well! You learn new things everyday so I know what to do next time.

Mambo Italiano…

I came across these…

Massimo by The Italian Baker

…the other day at a  mini-supermarket near my house. They had the special cardboard display shelf set up and the packets of cakes are each individually housed in a pigeon hole. Hmmm…impressive, eh? And just look at the name – “Massimo By The Italian Baker“. Wowwww!!! That sure sounds promising…and even though they were not all that cheap – RM1.30 each, I just had to buy and try.

I don’t know how many flavours there are but here, they only had two, the classic and the mocha…

Classic and mocha

…so I grabbed one of each.

The mocha was all right, a taste that probably some would need getting used to but good grief!!! Just look at those holes!!!

Mocha

I am pretty sure the Italians do not have holes in their cakes like that or do they?

I liked the classic better – very fine, light and only a couple of little holes in it…

Classic

…not that noticeable but if those holes are not supposed to be there, they really should do something about their quality control.

I would much sooner go and buy these cup cakes from our own bakery

Lian Yu cupcakes

…which probably do not contain that much preservatives as they would have to be consumed within a matter of  a few days and even though they do not contain any butter…

Majerin

…they do have that fragrance, probably from the use of some butter substitute, but neither is there any butter in those “classier” ones…

Lemak sayuran

…nor is there any scent of it as well, not even a bit and it looks like they’re good for some two months or so.

No, these local ones of ours are not very much cheaper. They are smaller so roughly two of them would be equivalent to one of those and since there are six in a pack, that would mean that it is only cheaper by one-third, not much (and in fact, there are cup cakes from our own bakeries that are a lot more expensive, some even double or triple the price). However, in comparison, I would say that these are very much nicer…and there are no holes in them.