She tried…

We had this kadai paneer once at Payung…

Kadai paneer

…in 2019 when the Indian chief, Varun, just came over to Sibu – he has gone back to India since though.

Well, the other day, my girl tried to cook her own…

Mel's kadai paneer

…and it turned out really well and we all enjoyed it very much. I don’t know what went into the dish but I saw her mum getting ready a whole lot of spices and herbs for her to use and I heard curry powder and garam masala being mentioned too.

It looked a whole lot nicer the day before, freshly cooked – this had been reheated for dinner and again for lunch the following day when I took the photograph. It had a more yellowish, curry-like colour and the green peppers were still green. The other ingredients such as tau kua (bean curd cake) slices, potatoes, sliced Bombay onion, of course, did not contribute much to give the dish a bit more colour.

In the meantime, the mum cooked this…

Missus' ayam berlada

…that they call ayam berlada

Ayam berlada at Bandong

…at the Malay food stall at Bandong that I used to frequent a lot except that theirs tended to be more on the dry side, not much gravy to drown the rice with and enjoy.

No, it isn’t curry – no curry powder or curry paste is used in the cooking and there’s kunyit (turmeric) instead. I would say it is more like ayam percik

ayam percik

…or the Indonesian kalio ayam

Indonesian kali ayam

…and yes, we do enjoy this a lot too!

Gosh!!! We have not been out and about for so long that I really do not know how all these places are doing. I guess most of them are still open as I have not heard anything otherwise.

Nothin’ heavy…

I mentioned in an earlier post that we had our Chap Goh Meh dinner a day earlier on the eve as the actual day fell on a Friday and this being the season of Lent, we opted to fast and abstain from meat on that day.

We could have two very small meals in the course of the day and one regular one for dinner but we decided we would not have anything till nightfall. Since we wanted something light, I thought it would be nice to make meat-free popiah/spring rolls (I used a bit of prawn instead for the sweetness and I added some carrot too to give it a bit of colour) and I had the luxury of time – I had whole day to do everything slowly.

I was searching high and low for this PREMERO popiah skin…

PREMERO spring roll pastry

…that we used before and liked a lot but there did not seem to be any all over town. Finally, one fine day, I spotted it at a supermarket here and of course, I grabbed a few packs to keep in the freezer. Who knows, it may not be available again when we need it.

That night, the ladies stayed true to the word “light” and just had one popiah each. Of course, I had more than one – ask no questions and I shall tell no lies. LOL!!! Well, actually, senior citizens, anyone over 60, are exempted from fasting but I just did it anyway, not a problem at all.

Two mornings later, on Sunday, since I was up and about early in the morning, I took out what was left of the filling to make some popiah for breakfast/tea. Normally, we would sit down together to wrap our own but this time was an exception to the rule.

Usually, the chili sauce would go in first but I did not want to wet the skin as a result of which it might tear easily. That was why I had the kacang tumbuk (crushed peanut)…

Kacang tumbuk

…first, followed by the lettuce…

Lettuce

…and then, the chili sauce…

Chili sauce

After that, I added the filling…

Filling

…and the omelette that I fried and sliced very thinly…

Omelette strips

…and lastly, before wrapping it all up, I added some more kacang tumbok

More kacang tumbuk

I love a lot of it in my popiah.

I managed to make 8 only – I ate the last two for my breakfast and left the rest for the ladies and for tea in the course of the day. Well, if you’re wondering what the “end product” looked like, here’s the cross-section…

My popiah, cross-section

…of one of the two that I had.

It sure looked good, don’t you think? Wink! Wink!

Young and beautiful…

I mentioned in my blogpost not too long ago that I planted some sweet potato leaves by simply sticking the stalks/stems from the bundle that I bought into the ground…

Sweet potato leaves

The ones in this plot did not do too well – the leaves started turning yellow like they were withering so I got rid of all of it and right now, I am using that plot to plant the stalks of the cangkok manis that I harvested that day for my fried bihun with the canned clams in soya sauce. I did have some more of those sweet potato leaves on the other side at the end of my vegetable plots and yes, those grew very well and were starting to crawl all over the place. That was why I decided to harvest all of it that day.

I sliced the stems of the leaves into two…

Sweet potato leaves, sliced stalks

…which wasn’t really necessary, actually – I just felt like doing it (this is something you would do with paku or wild jungle fern too) but when you buy these leaves from outside, they are usually too old, hard to chew and doing this would help make it easier to eat and the leaves would be harder too…not like mine, so young and beautiful.

I like these leaves fried with sambal hay bee (udang kering/dried prawns), the same way we cook paku, kangkong, ladies fingers and even long beans but my missus just cooked some kut kut chai (slippery vegetable) that way the day before so I decided to do it differently.

I chopped a whole lot of garlic and got ready some prawns…

Ingredients

…and the leftover seasoning from my Daddy Mee instant noodles, chicken flavour.

I fried the garlic in some oil till golden brown, threw in the prawns followed by the leaves and when it was more or less done, I sprinkled the seasoning all over it, dished out and served…

Sweet potato leaves, cooked & served

Yes, it was very nice and yes, I replanted some of the stalks in the hope that more will grow and perhaps when I harvest it the next time around, I would have enough for two meals!

Theirs…

I enjoy watching The Kumaar Family on Youtube that features an Indian guy, originally from Malaysia, and his American wife and their two kids and members of his wife’s family and they kept insisting again and again that the BEST instant noodles would be Maggi kari (curry) and they even got the other family members to try and give their opinions.

Maggi…

Mi Maggi, kari

…of course, was the first instant noodles to come into the scene a long long time ago or at least, as far as I know. Who doesn’t know their tagline, “Cepat dimasak, sedap dimakan!” (Fast to cook, good to eat!)? Eventually, others came into the picture and there were others that I would prefer along the way. We did not like the texture of Maggi’s noodles and we did not think their seasonings were anything spectacular, nothing really nice.

So why does this Kumaar Family praise it to the skies? Have they improved so much over the years? I remember when we flew over to Wellington, we stopped for a night in Auckland and my friend insisted that I took with me packets of Maggi mee so I would not go hungry…and I loved those so much! Was it because they made better ones overseas or did they taste better in their nice and cool temperate weather? Well, the only way to find out would be to buy a pack to try and that was exactly what I did.

They…

Maggi Mee, curry

…come in packs of 5, selling for RM4.50 here. The Made-in-Sibu Daddy Mee was going for that same price before but to my horror, when I was at the shop the other day, they now have FOUR in a pack selling for RM4.80, RM1.20 a pack, MORE expensive than Maggi! Darn!!!

Two things on the wrapper impressed me – this thing about there being 12 different spices…

12 different spices

…being used in the making and their claim that the wheat…

Wheat from Australia

…they use is from Australia. Well, I don’t know anything about wheat so I wouldn’t know if the one from Australia is superior to any of those from other countries, China, perhaps. Having said that, using 12 different spices in the making did sound promising!

Inside a packet, you will find the noodles and a sachet…

Noodles and seasoning

…with the seasoning that did seem to me a little bigger with a little bit more inside compared to others like the Daddy Mee ones, for instance.

I got down to cooking the noodles in boiling water, added the seasoning – all of it and I also boiled two prawns and  fried an egg to serve with it…

Mi Maggi, kari - served

Oooopsss!!! I broke the egg yolk while transferring it from the saucer into the bowl for the photo shoot.

I couldn’t wait to sit down and try and yes, I loved it! I thought it was really nice, bursting with the flavours of the 12 spices and yes, I find the noodles perfectly all right now, unlike the ones long ago…and on top of all that, it was spicy, definitely not for those who are not into anything a little bit hot! This isn’t the pedas giler line so I cannot imagine how spicy those must be!

I certainly would not mind buying this again but I probably would go for something that is nice too and a little cheaper. At the end of the day, it is what it is, instant noodles – nothing more and nothing less!

In advance…

So how was your Chap Goh Meh dinner last night? Lots of things to eat and enjoy? We had ours in advance, a day earlier because yesterday was a Friday in the season of Lent, a day of fasting and abstinence. As far as I know, even during “normal” times (before the pandemic), many families went out for dinner the night before for the simple reason that all the restaurants would be full on the actual night.

Yes, I did go out but a couple of days earlier, only to the fruit & food sundry/grocer shop round the corner, to buy a whole fish and had it steamed for the dinner…

Steamed fish

As they say, Nien Nien You Yi! We had the ikan buris in the freezer but my missus does not eat that and there were a few slabs of salmon too but I wanted a whole fish. I sure was glad I did as on the morning of the day proper, there was such a HUGE crowd and I sure wouldn’t want to rub shoulders with all those people.

This ikan bawal putih (white pomfret), supposedly more prestigious than the black (that I do prefer) and the golden varieties, was only RM46.00 which I would consider cheap because I was at a fish stall before Chinese New Year where those were going for between RM60.00 and RM80.00 and the lady told me that around Chinese New Year, I would not get anything less than RM100.00!

I bought three lamb shanks for Christmas last year and my missus cooked two. There was one left in the freezer so I asked her to take it out and cook it…

Lamb shank

…and it was really good, very nice and tender.

We also used whatever we could find in the fridge and freezer for this salad platter…

Salad

…to which we added the traditional salad dressing in the family

Add dressing

My girl cooked this lovely pumpkin soup…

Pumpkin soup

…and my sister brought this VERY nice ice cream for dessert!

No, we did not have much this time around, very simple – just these few dishes for the four of us but still, we only managed to finish the fish! Thankfully, there wasn’t all that much left.

Roll…

That day, my missus went out to stock up on the food in the house and my girl asked her to buy a packet of those Mission wraps – onion and chives as she was thinking of making some prawn wraps…

Prawn wrap

…for lunch.

The mum helped heat up the wraps piece by piece…

Mission wrap - onion & chives

…in a non-stick pan and we lined each piece with some lettuce and sweet basil…

Lettuce & sweet basil

My girl spent sometime making this coleslaw…

Coleslaw

…that went in next, followed by the prawns…

Prawns

…that we placed on the bed of coleslaw. My missus coated them with breadcrumbs and deep fried them.

Lastly, after adding a sprinkling of parmesan cheese…

Parmesan cheese

…we wrapped it up and ate.

I would think “roll” would be a more appropriate word than “wrap” though. We were so generous with the filling that it was quite impossible to wrap it up so we just rolled it up, leaving the ends open and ate it like that. We sure enjoyed it very much and no, we did not mind it one bit when the filling fell out – we just picked it up and stuffed it back in. LOL!!!

Who would have thought…

That day, after I had bought the shallots at a shop in the vicinity of the Dewan Suarah here, I headed straight back to the car.

Personally, I am not fond of that area, especially the market there as it is always very crowded. Are they different people or the same ones every day? I particularly dislike how they would take their sweet time, stand around chatting with the sellers or their friends, never mind if they are blocking the way…and worse, they do not wait for you to move away first – if there is anything they want, they will cast physical distancing to the wind to just go and grab.

If my friend did not tell me I could get shallots there, I would not have gone there but I sure was glad she did! Why? Well, as I was walking back to the car, I saw these…

Ikan buris

…at a vegetable shop a few doors away, all wrapped up in a plastic bag.

Gosh! Who would have thought that they would be selling them in this part of the woods? I can’t even remember the last time I had any! I used to buy them at the freshwater prawns stalls at the Sibu Central Market (currently closed as there have been a few COVID-19 cases there) which isn’t much better that the one at the Dewan Suarah so of course, I have avoided it like a plague for almost a year now.

These are ikan buris or what we call sai seng in Hokkien, a very sweet, fatty fish, dirt cheap in my younger days but so very expensive now, over RM30 a kilo for the bigger ones. I asked the girl there how much they were selling them for  and Miss Congeniality, she sure wasn’t. Maybe she saw that I was so shabbily dressed (as usual) and she thought I could not afford those…so she gruffly replied, “RM26.00 a kilo!” I calmly told her I would take ALL five of them and it probably was just a little more than a kilo and she asked for RM26.00 something. I paid, grabbed the fish and left!

They were not very big but were quite all right. More often than not, it pained me to see them selling those finger-size ones. They should throw them back into the river to let them grow to a reasonable size. Though they are very rare here (probably because the river here is busier), they tell me there are plenty in the smaller towns like Kanowit and Bintangor (though not cheaper). Unfortunately, inter-district travel is not allowed so driving over to buy is totally out of the question.

My girl loves the fish but she is not fond of the traditional ethnic ways of cooking it, as an ingredient in sayur rebus (boiled vegetables) or masak kunyit (cooked with turmeric). She loved it oven-baked wrapped in kunyit leaves with all the herbs and leaves or just deep-fried, plain.

That day, she chose the latter so of course, that was how we had it…

Ikan buris, deep fried

…on our no-meat Friday last week – three of the five and boy, we sure did enjoy it to the max! They were a bit over-fried but that was perfectly all right as it was extra crispy, so crispy that we could eat the bones!

In the meantime, on another day last week, my missus took out her phak lor ark (braised/stewed five spice duck)…

Phak lor ark

…that she cooked for Chinese New Year but we did not take it out for the reunion dinner on the eve because my sister brought along the one from this chicken rice place in town. Actually I told her to save it for Chap Goh Meh but she said that would be too long and insisted on taking it out. She does not eat duck but my girl and I sure enjoyed it to the max and yes, I loved those stewed eggs!

Talking about Chap Goh Meh, it is just two days away and we have not decided what we would want to do for our dinner that night. What have you all got planned?

I don’t mind…

When I cook instant noodles, I will boil the noodles in water and once done, I will pour the water away before I cook the soup with the seasoning(s) provided and put the noodles in it and serve. That is because I read somewhere  that they coat the noodles with wax and the above process will remove the latter which they claim is a health hazard.

However, I do not do this when cooking my favourite made-in-Sibu Daddy Mee because there is a bit of seasoning coating the noodles…

seasoning coated

…for those eating it as a snack and doing that would wash all that away. As a result, I found that it would not be as nice.

I don’t think I would want to eat it as a snack though – that makes me think of those little packets of junk food that kids love to buy at the school canteen. In the meantime, my loyal follower and regular commentor, Irene, in Kuching insists that this is her favourite brand of instant noodles and she always has some in her pantry and lately, she has been telling me that she likes it dry. In her own words, she said, “I prefer chicken flavour cooked dry than in soup. Just toss with the fried shallot and seasoning, without any extra ingredients needed, it will taste heavenly too.

I was kind of sceptical initially because as I have said earlier, boiling the noodles and draining away all the water would remove the nice taste but nonetheless, I decided to give it a try.

I boiled the noodles in a little bit of water, not too much – just enough to cover it and I emptied half of the sachet of seasoning into it. In the meantime, I got ready the remaining half and the fragrant shallot oil from the other sachet in a plate…

Seasoning, oil and fried shallot

…plus a bit of the fried shallots that I had at hand.

Much to my delight, by the time the mee was cooked, all the water in the saucepan had dried up. I poured everything into the plate and tossed well and served…

Mee Daddy, dry

Yes, it was very nice. something like kampua mee but not exactly as the texture of the noodles was different. However, I found it to be VERY salty – I think since I had added half of the sachet while cooking the noodles, that would be more than enough for me. Perhaps if anyone is cooking it this way, it would be better to just hold on to the remaining seasoning and sprinkle sparingly according to taste.

But the thing is I love the soup very much and eating it dry like this, one would have to forego the enjoyment of that. That was why I decided to try something different from the above.

The second time around, I cooked the noodles in a lot more water, added half the sachet of seasoning and half of the shallot oil and once ready, I poured the soup into a bowl…

Daddy Mee, soup

…and garnished it with my own fried shallots. Unfortunately, I did not have any spring onion at that point in time – adding a sprinkling of that would surely bring the taste to a whole new level.

I tossed the noodles in the remaining shallot oil and served and yes, it was just right this time around, not too salty. I put away the rest of the seasoning in an airtight container for use in some other way some other day. The soup was as nice as I’ve always known it to be, anytime nicer than the plain water plus msg and bits of spring onion that they will give you at the kampua mee shops and stalls.

I sure don’t mind having it this way sometimes for a change and at around RM4.50 for a pack of 5, that works out to only 90 sen a plate, with the delightful soup to go with it. So very cheap, don’t you think?

Coming back…

One very popular dish here at the noodle shops and stalls would be the fried bihun (rice vermicelli) with canned clams in soy sauce

AmoFood canned clams in soya saucea

I remember my mum cooking that in my growing up years using those made-in-China Amoy Canning product and though I enjoyed it, it wasn’t anything that you would find me craving for. Eventually, I noticed that it was taken over by this Singapore AmoFood group and was no longer made in China and one fine day, they stopped coming – it was not available anymore.

I searched everywhere, high and low, until a lady at a grocery store told me not to bother as they had stopped production and she asked me to use this

Sunstar clams in soy sauce

…instead and insisted that it was exactly the same. Much to my delight, it was! However, our troubles did not end there. The instant we saw any on the shelves at any shop, we had to grab many cans quickly as once the stock was finished, there would not be any forthcoming for months!!!

The price kept going up too!!! Initially, it was RM3.80 and then it went up to RM4.00 something and the other day, I picked up a few cans at a shop near my house…

RM5.00

…to add to those that I still had in my pantry and it was RM5.00!!! Whoever said that what goes up must come down sure had it all wrong!

In the meantime, I saw some excitement among my Kuching cousins on Facebook. One of them spotted the original AmoFood canned clams in soya sauce there – obviously, it has come back and is now available so of course, everybody wanted a few cans. This time around, it is made in Malaysia, NOT in Singapore anymore. I asked and found out that it was RM6.95 at the Kuching branch of that Sibu supermarket – a friend tells me it is RM6.50 a can here, slightly cheaper. However, in the light of the current COVID-19 situation (and that sure looks like another case of something going up and never coming down), I did not bother to go and check it out. After all, I still have a few cans of the Sunstar ones in the pantry.

Well, it was Ash Wednesday the other day, a day of fasting and abstinence…

Lent, fasting & abstinence

….and I decided I would fry some bihun with a can of those clams and leave it there for anyone who would want to eat, just a bit for the 2 small meatless collations before the 1 regular meatless meal, come evening time.

I went to the back of my garden to harvest my cangkok manis

Cangkok manis leaves

I sure am glad that it is growing really well now and of course, I had to tear the leaves into small bits…

Cangkok manis, shredded & torn

…to bring out the sweetness and to make chewing them easier.

I dropped some bihun into boiling water to soften and chopped some garlic…

Bihun, garlic and chili

…for use. I also sliced one fresh chili (this batch is not spicy at all, good only for colour) and I fried an omelette and sliced that thinly too so that I would be able to use them for garnishing prior to serving the bihun.

I opened the can of clams and poured the sauce all over the bihun

Bihun, sauce added

…mixing it altogether thoroughly so I would not have to do that while frying as this nicer and finer Thai one may pecah-peach or break up into very small bits when fried a bit too long. I also added a bit of dark soy sauce to give it a bit of colour so it would not look too pale.

Once everything was ready, I fried the garlic in oil till golden brown, threw in the cangkok manis to cook, followed by the clams and the bihun. I broke two eggs into the wok, scrambled them well and added them to the noodles and once done, I dished everything out and served…

Fried bihun with canned clams & soy sauce & cangkok manis

…garnished with the aforementioned sliced chili and omelette.

Well, self praise is no praise but I thought that was pretty good. The crowd at the stalls selling this in town here is testament to the fact that this is good and you can give it a try if you have never cooked it before.

Can’t see why…

I tried Maggi goreng or fried instant noodles at a roadside mamak stall in Petaling Jaya a long time ago – my nephew and his housemate (my ex-student) who took me there were both single then. Now they are both happily married, with kids! No, I didn’t think it was great, nothing to shout about and I can’t see why it is so popular to this very day.

You can see it on the menu at most Malay food stalls in town and more often than not, if you look at what is in the cabinet, chances are you will see the Indonesian Mee Sedaap which is  a whole lot cheaper than Maggi, only RM2.90 for a pack of 5. I clicked the above link and watched the Indian guy cooking but there was no commentary so I had no idea what he added which did not look like much actually.

I may have fried my own before but the other day, I decided to do it again…

Fried Daddy Mee

…with the made-in-Sibu Daddy Mee, curry flavour…

Daddy Mee, curry

These were the ingredients that I used…

Ingredients

I cooked the noodles and drained well, mixed it with the seasoning in the sachet and tossed it well before putting it aside.

Next, I fried the chopped garlic in a bit of oil till golden brown before throwing in the prawns. Once cooked, I added the chopped long beans and stir-fried for a while before I put in the noodles. I added the taugeh (bean sprouts) and once I felt it had been fried enough, I dished everything out onto a plate…

Fried Daddy Mee, served

…and served, garnished with a sprinkling of fried shallots and chopped daun sup (Chinese celery).

No, I still can’t see why people seem to like it so much. Despite my adding some prawns, I did not think it tasted great. For one thing, I should have used half of the seasoning in the sachet – it was VERY salty or maybe I should have added an egg or two. That could have brought the taste to a whole new level.

This Korean guy likes it both ways but personally, on my part, I would much sooner have it as a soup dish…

Daddy Mee, curry - soup

…and enjoy it a whole lot more. This Sibu brand is one of my favourites when it comes to instant noodles, curry flavour but these people seem to swear by the one from Maggi and that Korean guy enjoys it a lot as well – perhaps I should grab a pack from the shop one of these days and give it a try.