End of the year…

We went to the Christmas morning service in church that day as we were at my cousin’s daughter’s wedding reception and could not go for the one at night on Christmas Eve and we did not have any special dinner that evening either. We had one at home on the night of Christmas Day instead and of course, we invited my sister and my brother-in-law and his wife to join us.

I bought a pair of New Zealand lamb foreshank for around RM35.00 only and my missus stewed them with bolognese sauce…

Christmas dinner stewed lamb shank

…and yes, it was very nice. She did not serve them on a bed of mashed potatoes even though my girl made some and served that separately and yes, we sure enjoyed it a lot…except my brother-in-law perhaps – he’s not so into western cuisine, not lamb especially.

That was why my missus had these chicken wings…

Christmas dinner air-fried chicken wings

…cooked using the air fryer that was given to us by my niece in Singapore and also his favourite, my missus’ chicken curry but I did not take a photograph of the latter.

We also had those giant tiger prawns…

Christmas dinner tiger prawns

…from Sabah that my generous friend, Eric gave me and everyone was impressed by the humongous size of those crustaceans! These were just the first batch – because they were so big and there were so many, my missus had to do it a few times in our small oven.

My girl saw this ham…

Christmas dinner gypsy-flavoured ham

…gypsy flavoured, whatever that is at the supermarket round the corner from our house and did not hesitate to buy it for our dinner. A long long time ago, I bought a very small one like a hand grenade from the supermarket on the lower ground floor of Sogo in KL and we loved it so much. Unfortunately, I had not come across any like that since. This one was quite big, maybe not as big as a bowling ball but it was big. Everyone said it was a bit too salty but I was fine with it and enjoyed it very much.

My missus tried to replicate the mangosteen salad…

Christmas dinner mangosteen salad

that we had at the Vietnamese restaurant in Kuching and loved so much. Everyone else liked it but I felt it was a bit too sour – the one we had in Kuching was much nicer.

It was New Year’s Eve a week later – that’s the thing about the end of the year, one festival after another and Chinese New Year is on the way, just a fortnight away. We went to the special service at the church after which we had a pot luck party so we did not have a special dinner of our own at home.

We had not had our family New Year’s Eve/Day dinner together for six years, at least, not since my girl got posted to her jungle school. She would have to be there a few days earlier for meetings, registration of pupils and what not and they had to work even on New Year’s Day and school would reopen the very next day on the 2nd…but I think even before that, when she was studying in Sg Petani, Kedah and Wellington, New Zealand, we did not have the chance to sit down together as a family on this very special occasion.

I, for one, cannot understand why they must start school on the 2nd (and if I am not wrong, they do not have a public holiday in some states!). During my time, even way back in the colonial days, school would reopen on the first Monday of the year. I’m sure those extra few days will not make much of a difference and will not turn those kids into geniuses, not at all. Stupid is as stupid does!

Well, finally, after so many years, we were able to sit down as a family on New Year’s Day and my missus cooked this gluten-free pasta…

New Year dinner pasta

– one of those that we bought and stocked up at one time, not that we would need it anymore these days. I don’t know what sauce she used but yes, it was very nice.

She also baked this slab of deboned chicken, Italian-style…

New Year dinner Italian chicken

…and my girl said it was nice. I thought it was just so-so, not anything I would ask her to cook again.

She made this lovely salad…

New Year dinner salad

…and baked potatoes…

New Year dinner potatoes

…for the sides to go with the roasted leg of New Zealand lamb…

New Year dinner rack of lamb

…that I bought for over RM70.00. I think next time, I shall just stick to the lamb shanks as they seemed to be cheaper and at the end of the day, it was what it was – lamb.

Yes, that was a delightful dinner and most importantly, we got to sit down together as a family to eat together on these significant occasions. Those guys in their ivory towers should realise that no amount of teaching in that Moral Education subject in school can ever come near to actually doing it and practising it ourselves – action speaks louder than words!

2 in 1…

We went to the Christmas morning service in church that morning and my aunt, my late mum’s cousin, stopped by our seats to invite us to her Christmas Open House that day and of course, we accepted her invitation happily.

We did not know at the time that she was born on Christmas Day, her 78th this year so it was, in fact, a 2-in-1 affair.

Her church-going friends brought this Japanese baked cotton cheese cake…

Japanese baked cotton cheese cake

…my favourite, so there was the singing of the birthday song, the candle blowing and cake cutting. The cake had gone up in price like nobody’s business – long long ago, a small oval one was RM10.00 and then it started going up. The last time I bought one, it was RM14.00 and one of the ladies that day told me it is now RM18.00. No, thank you! I’d just go for something more affordable instead.

My aunt served quite a lot of dishes – her phak lor (braised) sa chan bak (pork belly)…

Phak lor sa chan bak

…was so good that I could not resist going back for more.

She also cooked this…

Pork with potatoes, carrots

…and she got somebody in the kampung to cook the curry…

Curry

…and the masak merah

Masak merah

The photo of the rendang came out blur so I have left that out.

She bought these Sibu Foochow-style sio bee

Sio bee

…which were really very good – I think I shall go and grab some soon and blog about it. She also bought the ngor hiang

Ngor hiang

– my girl enjoyed it but I thought it was just so-so, nothing to shout about.

There weren’t any vegetable dishes but a friend brought this very nice mango pickle…

Mango pickle

…and there was dabai

Dabai

…plus these rambutans from my garden…

My rambutans

…my contribution to the party and somebody brought these lovely cream puffs…

Cream puffs

…for dessert.

We had a jolly good time – everybody knew everybody as we are a small church community but we couldn’t stay too long as we had to rush back and get working on our own Christmas dinner at home that night but that will be in another post. You’ll stick around, won’t you?

Last one left…

This is the last post, just this one left, on my trip to Kuching in mid-December last year.

We walked past this Indian place…

Restoran Mahashafi, shop sign

…that morning before we went for our lovely brunch here.

The vadai looked really good and we bought 10 of them, 50 sen each…

Vadai

We rarely have this in Sibu, not so many Indians around, but we do get a good one sometimes. However, I think these days, ours is machine-blended so it is way too fine, so much so that we can’t see any of the dhal in it.

We tried one each and we loved it! Since we had planned ahead to go for brunch,  we did not eat anymore and in the end, we took them to our family reunion high tea at my aunt’s house – they were all snapped up in no time at all and anyone who had the chance to sample one said it was really good.

We went into the shop…

Restoran Mahashafi Kuching

…to look at the food and it did appear really good too. We were hoping we would be able to come back another day to eat there but we just simply did not have the time. I guess that would have to wait till our next trip to Kuching.

I did go back to the shop though before we came back to Sibu and I bought a whole lot of the vadai to bring back. Coincidentally, when I reached home, I got word from my friend, Peter, the boss of Payung, asking me to go and get some coconut mango…

Mangoes from Peter & Lim

…that they had plucked from the tree at his house so I gave him and our Indian friends some of the vadai to enjoy, saving only a few for ourselves. I don’t think I got to eat any, other than the one I had in Kuching – my girl ate them all, she loves them so much.

In the meantime, my good friend, Lim, dropped by to give me his mangoes – he also has a tree at his house, the long/oval ones. My missus took the red pulut hitam that I bought in Miri that day and cooked her version of the Thai mango sticky rice…

Mango pulut hitam

It was nice but I do prefer it with the regular pulut or glutinous rice. The red pulut hitam was not that sticky, best used to cook in its own way, not that suitable for this.

Thank you so much, Peter & Lim, for the lovely mangoes and I must thank Lim too for the goodies he brought back from his family trip to Sabah…and also for the serimuka that his mum made. He said that she was in town and his kids love serimuka but we can’t get any good ones here in Sibu so he was learning how to make it from her. Hmmm….when can I place my order, Lim? How much per tray? LOL!!!

RESTORAN MAHA SHAFI (1.559559, 110.344461) is located at 9.21, Jalan Barrack in Kuching to theleft from its junction with India Street, facing the left hand side of The Old Court House located right across the road.

He’s good…

The young and handsome guy…

Roti canai guy

…at this roti canai stall…

Roti canai stall

here actually hails from Bangi, Selangor and has moved to Sibu following his wife who has been posted to work at the hospital here. I went early one morning at 6 something hoping to try something from him but he was not there. They said he usually would not come so early.

Well, I did manage to catch hold of him the other morning and I asked for what he calls the canai tsunami (RM2.50)…

Canai tsunami

…which is actually made up of a piece of roti canai as the base and a fried egg on top, flooded with the dhal gravy.

I was also served this…

Roti bom

…and I thought that was part of my order but in actual fact, he made that specially for me to try, what they call roti bom. He said there is nobody selling that here and come to think of it, I haven’t seen it anywhere. I wanted to pay for that but he insisted that it was on him.

With the sprinkling of sugar and some margarine wrapped inside and fried till crusty and crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, it was really very nice, something like those sugared puff pastry biscuits. As a matter of fact, it was so nice that I wanted to buy two home. Unfortunately, he said that he had run out of dough for the day which, of course, was a good sign – an indication that his business wasn’t too bad.

From our brief chit-chat, I found out that he would not open that early in the morning as he would have to send the kuihs he makes to the hospital and dunno where else. Upon saying that, he went over the the kuih section at that place and got me these – his apams…

Apams

…the apam coklat, apam pisang and apam gula hangus. I don’t know what apams actually are and why they are thus called and not regarded as cakes as to me, they are like mini-cupcakes, very soft and moist, very nice – all of them. I wanted to pay him for those too but he simply refused to accept. He sure is a nice guy, isn’t he?

The people there said that the roti bom would go very well with the nasi lemak sambal so they got me this…

Sambal & dhal

…the aforementioned sambal in the dhal gravy. Gee!!! If they keep pampering me like this, I sure would want to come every day! LOL!!!

Jokes aside, I certainly would love to drop by again for this…

Canai tsunami, roti bom & sambal/dhal

…or whatever else the guy has on his menu. His effort to earn a little something instead of idling around while his wife is at work sure deserves some support and the next time around, I shall insist on paying for everything.

KOPI KOPI Café & Kitchen is located at the blocks of shops, at the back facing Bandong Walk (2.313869, 111.825808) and the main road.

P.S.:
I am taking a break for a week or so but worry not, there will be the usual scheduled daily posts just that I may not be replying instantly to comments, if any and I may not go blog-hopping to comment in your blogs as well. Stick around! I’ll be back!!!

Make it last forever…

This is kasam babi hutan

Kasam babi hutan

– salted and preserved wild boar meat.

It is protected here though I really wonder why as the animal is very productive, not endangered in any way, plus it is very destructive. However, there is a provision in the law that allows the ethnic tribes to hunt it for food and with the lack of electricity and refrigeration in the interior, they would salt the extra meat to make it last like…forever and eat it slowly. They are also allowed to sell the meat to supplement their income and some will also sell the kasam too.

When I was teaching in Kanowit in the late 70’s, I rented a little room on top of one of the shophouses and my neighbours were all Ibans and they ate it ever so often. Everytime they opened the tin with the preserved meat inside, I felt like throwing up – the stench was terrible! Ah well!!! Salted fish is so nice but we all know that the smell is just as bad. It was only until quite recently when I tried it at the ethnic food stall here in town that I thought it was very nice and I really liked it.

Now that my girl is no longer teaching in the school in the jungle, I no longer have the opportunity to stop by the market at the bazaar along the way to buy the meat. I’ve loved the fresh meat since young but not the kasam. I bought one kilo of this kasam way back in May or June and I did cook half of it, steamed with tuak (the traditional Dayak rice wine) but it did not taste great, overpowered by all the herbs and leaves and everything that I added to the dish.

Well, I tried cooking it again the other day, the remaining half and this time around, I toned down on the ingredients used and these…

Ingredients

…were all I used – a few slices of ginger, a few cloves of garlic, one shallot, two stalks of serai (lemon grass) and one chili, thinly sliced.

Instead of steaming, I cooked it the way I would cook the soup with the fresh meat. I put it in the slow cooker and left it till all the juices had come out and had started simmering. Then I added the ingredients and let it go on simmering.

After sometime I took it out…

Kasam babi hutan, cooked

…and garnished it with daun kunyit (turmeric leaves) cut into thin strips and yes it was very much nicer, just very salty.

I did read somewhere that one would need to soak it and rinse it a lot to get rid of the salt and the salty taste – perhaps I did not do that enough. I put it back into the slow cooker and added boiling water, not too much as this was not meant to be a soup…and it was quite all right and a bit nicer after that.

Feeling not quite satisfied with it, I went to an empty plot of land round the corner from my house and plucked a few tapioca leaves from the plants growing wild there, pounded them and added them to the dish…

Kasam babi hutan & daun bandong

…No, it did not help reduce the saltiness, unfortunately so we just mixed the sauce with our rice and ate and yes, it wasn’t too bad. Thank goodness I did not cook it as a soup!

RUAI AKU CAFE is located below Eden Inn (2.285223, 111.831256) along Jalan Maju to the right of Hai Bing Seafood Restaurant, right across the road from the Rejang Esplanade.

What I like about you…

I bought a pack of this made-in-Singapore instant noodles…

KOKA laksa Singapura

…for my girl since she is so into their nyonya curry laksa but she did not give it a try till the other night and she loved it!

I can’t remember how much it cost now but it should be in the region of RM10.00 as if it had been much more than that, I would have second thoughts about buying.

There are 5 packets inside and in each packet, there are 3 sachets – the seasoning powder, the seasoning oil and the coconut powder…

Inside

As always, I boiled the noodles first and drained well before putting it in a bowl. Then I boiled some more water and threw one freshwater prawn in it for the stock to cook the soup. Once ready, I emptied the contents of the sachets into it and brought it back to boil.

Finally, I poured the soup over the noodles in the bowl and served it with the freshwater prawn, garnished with some chopped spring onions from my garden…

My bowl of laksa Singapura...

…and yes, I did boil an egg to go with it…

...with an egg

…too.

I would say it was really very good – if you are into Thai cuisine, you would love this a lot, I’m sure. What I particularly liked about it was how it was so strong with all the exotic fragrances of lemon grass, coriander, turmeric and whatever else…but no, it was not anything like curry as we know it so after my unsuccessful attempt to find some nice curry-flavoured instant noodles here and here, the search continues…

P.S.:
Do ignore the dates in the last two photographs. I went out for breakfast early one morning and my old digicam decided there and then to die on me – everything worked well except that no images appeared in the viewing screen. I bought a new one, something similar but a newer model and I must have pressed something somewhere so the dates appeared.

Still looking…

Curry is so very common in our country – we eat it regularly and it is easily available everywhere. Why, it can be considered our national dish even…or one of them, at least. Even the Japanese have their version of the curry though not exactly the same but then again, curries may differ a bit between individuals and places. Your curry may not be the same as mine but still, they will come across to anyone eating as…curry!

Anyway, before I proceed further, in case anyone is wondering what has happened to the GIANT tiger prawns that my friend, Eric, gave me, I had them frozen in ice in the hope that we could keep them till my birthday or Christmas, both next month, in December. One fine day, my missus took out one of the Tupperware containers to cook but no, she didn’t cook curry with them. Instead, she baked them with a lot of cheese and garlic and a sprinkling of dill and a bit of chopped spring onions from my garden…

Baked cheese & garlic prawns

…and boy, that was absolutely delicious, you take my word for it! Well, there is still one container of the crustaceans in the freezer – hopefully, we can keep those till one of those two aforementioned dates.

Now back to what I was saying earlier about curry, in my blogpost the other day, I tried one brand of instant noodles- curry flavour but it was not to my liking and in the end, I just cooked the noodles my own way and threw the sachets of seasoning away.

In the meantime, I went looking for another brand to try and I picked this Indonesian one…

Mi Sedaap kari 1

…My missus used to love their soto ayam flavour and she would stock up quite a lot in the house. It was not quite to my liking because the flavours of the seasoning were very strong, like there was too much lemon grass or something.

Their curry one, besides the noodles…

Mi Sedaap kari 2

…has three sachets inside, a twin one with the seasoning and chili plus another one with the fried shallots.

Well, it so happened that I bought some big seawater pek hay (white prawns), not as big as the tiger prawns above but a lot bigger than the ones we usually buy to use as an added ingredient in our cooking, for instance, we would use them in our vegetable dishes for the taste and the sweetness.

Usually, I would just remove the heads and the shell (and boil for the stock) and devein but my friend, Peter, the boss of Payung Cafe, said I should keep the shell so it will not curl up and shrink till very small in the process of cooking. Now, I am doing it the way they do it – cut the front legs up to the four small “hairy” ones, leave the rest under the head, remove the shell around the head and the black sac inside, cut away the legs under its body, cut along the top of the shell to devein…and that’s it!

I took three of them to cook the noodles with and this was the end result…

Mi Sedaap - kari 3

…garnished with some chopped spring onions from my garden and fried shallots. I must say that my prawns sure looked big and a whole lot nicer now and the fact that I had slit the top to remove the vein made it a lot easier to remove the shell while eating.

Yes, I also cooked one poached egg to go with it and yes, I can do that now but I still need to polish up my skill a bit before I can blog about it as my end product isn’t all that presentable yet.

I guess everyone can jolly well guess by now that I did not think much of the noodles. It was all right, that much, I would say but it certainly was not kaawpedas as stated on the packet and I did not add that much water, just enough to fill that bowl. Perhaps if I had cut down the water by half, it would taste much nicer but still, it was not in any way like curry as we know it.

In the meantime, I’m still looking…