The garden…

These came from my garden…

Ladies fingers
*Archive photo*

– the ladies’ fingers that I planted sometime ago and so far, the labour is great but the harvest are few and I would only have enough to boil and eat them with sambal (pounded dip)…

Ladies fingers, ulam
*Archive photo*

However, the other day, I managed to collect enough to fry and these were the ingredients that I pounded…

Ingredients for pounding

…- a shallot, three cloves of garlic, a bit of ginger, kunyit (turmeric) and lengkuas (galangal) and of course, a chili.

Ah yes, I did add some belacan (dried prawn paste)…

Belacan

…too, toasted lightly on a non-stick pan.

I soaked a handful of hay bee/udang kering (dried prawns) in water to soften and I pounded those too…

Ingredients, pounded

…and I did get a stalk of serai (lemon grass) from my garden, bruised at the end, as well for the added fragrance and taste.

I sliced the ladies’ fingers thinly…

Ladies fingers, sliced

…and yes, it did not look like much but I had quite a lot of the udang kering – the sambal would go great with rice, with or without anything else. I was wishing the whole time that there was something in the fridge that I could add to it, like baby corn or four-angle beans perhaps, but unfortunately, I could not find anything that would be compatible.

Ok, time to start cooking…so I heated up the oil in the wok and added the pounded ingredients and once, that had turned brown and fragrant enough, I put in the serai, followed by the udang kering. It took quite a while as I only used a little bit of oil but at the price of cooking oil these days, one will have to make do with a lot less and anyway, I guess that is, in fact, a healthy thing to do. Once the sambal was done, I pushed it aside and broke an egg into the wok and scrambled it. I was thinking that this would help make sure that there would be enough to go round. Lastly, I added the ladies’ fingers…and a bit of water sparingly to cook it. Ah yes!!! I did add a teeny weeny bit of soy sauce – my missus said it would make the vegetable less sticky or gooey but don’t add too much, just a little bit will do…or it would be too dark and the end product may not look as nice.

Once it was done, I dished it out and served…

My ladies' fingers, fried with sambal

Well, it did look kind of nice, don’t you think? I know self-praise in no praise but I would say it tasted great and there was more than enough for the three of us (along with a fish, ikan bawal hitam/black pomfret that I fried) for dinner that evening.

Quick and easy…

My girl bought this…

Prima Taste beef rendang with rice 1

…made-in-Singapore product at a supermarket here for only RM3.99 but I guess that was because it was about to expire. I peeled off the price tag to look at the one it was stuck over and the price there was RM9.50.

Unfortunately, she looked at the ingredients and saw that there were things she had to avoid like wheat, oats and barley. Huh??? In a packet of beef rendang with rice? I guess those would be the multi-grains mentioned on the packet…

Prima Taste beef rendang with rice 2

Well, since she would not be able to eat that, I decided to go ahead and give it a try myself.

According to the instructions at the back, I was supposed to immerse it in boiling water and cook for 8-10 minutes and I was expecting to find a pouch inside like in the case of their other products but no, there wasn’t any…

What's inside

Oh dear!!! In the end, I just folded the packet closed and boiled it and when the time was up, I emptied the contents onto a plate…

Prima Taste beef rendang with rice 3

Yes, it was very nice! It had the fragrance of all the spices and other ingredients used, the rice was just right, neither hard nor overcooked and soggy and the beef was tender enough for old toothless me. However, at RM9.50, if that is the original price, I think I would go for the same or something similar that is freshly cooked and served like beef curry or masak hitam at the stalls here.

I dropped by the supermarket myself a few days ago and I saw this…

Prima Taste chicken claypot rice

I guess that was on special offer too but the expiry date would not be till December so I have ample time. I have not tried it yet but will do so soon. For one thing, I find their products to my liking, those that I’ve tried and I must say it is so very convenient to have in the house to cook and eat, real quick and easy.

Tell me how…

In my previous post, I mentioned that I bought 1 kilo of buah emplam

Buah emplam

…a very sour fruit from the mango family, at the Sibu Jaya market, the ethnic section. I was grumbling all this while that the price kept going up, from RM10 a kg to RM12.00 and then, it went up to RM14.00. I could not believe my ears when the ladies told me that theirs were going for only RM6.00 a kg. and I wasted no time at all in buying the coveted fruit.

Some may prefer to eat it as an ulam,  raw with sambal belacan or with rojak sauce but in my family, we always use it to make this special sambal buah emplam

Sambal buah emplam
*Mary’s photo on Facebook*

…that goes so well with rice. My friend, Mary, had it as a sambal the first time at our dinner here and she loved it so much. That was why when I made some that day, I gave her some and she was so delighted and she asked me to tell her how to make it.

Well, it is actually so very easy to make the sambal. First and foremost, you would have to peel the fruit…

Buah emplam, peeled

I used to cut it into thin strips and pound a bit to make it just a little mushy so as to get the juices out but I saw my missus doing it using a grater…

Buah emplam, grated

…and that looked a whole lot easier. My missus complains that it can be such a strain on the muscles of the hand especially when the fruit is very small and I would say that I do agree but it was all right when I did it, slowly…one by one.

I added a tablespoon of sugar to counter the extremely sour taste of the fruit (you can add more if you like it sweeter and less sour) and once that was done, I had to get the pounded ingredients…

Pounded ingredients

…ready – chili and belacan (dried prawn paste) and I heard from my cousin that day that the ethnic folks would add a shallot so I decided to give it a try. I would want to add a bit more belacan but that was all there was in the fridge – my missus did get some new stock recently but don’t ask me to go and look for it! I probably would have to take everything out and there is the possibility that even so, I will not be able to find it. Sometimes, she can’t find things she has put away herself and she will ask me if I had thrown it away. Hehehehehehe!!!!

Anyway, other than the aforementioned ingredients, I also pounded a handful of udang kering (dried prawns), pre-soaked to soften, and finally, I added everything to the shredded buah emplam

Add pounded ingredients

…and mixed it altogether thoroughly…

Sambal buah emplam, ready to serve

There you are! It is so very easy, isn’t it? Once you’ve got it done, all that is left for you to do is to sit back and enjoy eating it. Bon apetit!!!

Killing time…

The next day, Sunday, after the service in church, we picked up my cousins at the hotel but their flight was around 6 in the evening so we had a lot of time to kill.

I took them here for the old lady’s celebrated kampua noodles

Kampua mee

…and yes, there was a general consensus that it was much nicer than what they had here – somebody took them there for that soon after they had landed in Sibu…and yes, her very thick and rich meat ball soup…

Meat ball soup

…won their praises. They certainly enjoyed that!

There is a new Malay stall at that coffee shop now, right in front…

Diandianlai Cafe Malay stall

…and my missus had their nasi lemak special with chicken curry (RM5.00)…

Diandianlai Cafe nasi lemak special

…while my girl had their Sarawak laksa (RM4.00)…

Diandainlai Cafe Sarawak laksa

…which they said they did enjoy and were quite good…and yes, THIS is how we fry eggs…

Diandianlai Cafe fried egg

– that’s the way I like it!

After that, we drove here and there for this and that and yes, we did drop by here for the coffee

Choon Seng coffee
*Archive photo*

…and yes, they agreed that the coffee is nice again and is worth dropping by for when in town.

Before I dropped them off at the Sibu Airport, I took them a little further up the road to the Sibu Jaya township. They were impressed by how nice it looks now. We dropped by the ethnic section of the market there and I did manage to buy a kilo of buah emplam (more on that in tomorrow’s post), half a kilo of groundnuts – my girl loves those, boiled till soft with a little bit of salt added…and four not very big ikan buris for RM20.00. I cooked one in the oven this way…

Buris panggang daun kesum
*Archive photo*

– my girl loves it a lot and the rest, following our traditional masak kunyit recipe

Ikan buris masak kunyit

Yes, they were good – both ways!

After that brief but fruitful visit to the market, I dropped them off at the airport for their flight to Kuching. Bye bye, cousins – it was real lovely having you all here. I most certainly had a great time, so do come again!

For the very first time…

Yes, finally, I harvested my ladies’ fingers for the very first time…in my life, in fact as I have never planted any vegetables before. There were five…

My ladies fingers

…only but a couple of days later, I had two more and that was quite enough for a meal.

So the next question was how I was going to cook them. One way would be to fry them with sambal belacan/hay bee (dried prawns with dried prawn paste)…

Fried ladies fingers
*Archive photo*

…or just boil and eat as an ulam with sambal belacan

Ladies fingers ulam
*Archive photo*

…or cook curry like how they would have ladies’ fingers in fish curry…

Sheraton fish curry
*Archive photo*

…or I could stuff them with meat or fish paste…

Ladies fingers yong tofu
*Archive photo*

…and enjoy them as a condiment in yong tofu.

In the end, I just decided to pound some sambal hay bee

Sambal hay bee

– with udang kering or dried prawns plus chili, calamansi lime juice, a bit of garlic and sugar and salt. This was different from sambal belacan (dried prawn paste dip), no belacan was used in the making but we ate it in that same way – just boil the ladies’ fingers…

Ladies fingers sambal hay bee ulam

…and eat with the sambal as an ulam.

How would you have cooked and eaten them if you were in my shoes?

Any better…

No, I know for sure that this…

Prima Taste mee siam goreng paste 1

…can never be better than this – the nyonya mee siam but then again, I guess they are two different things altogether. I got both from my friend from Singapore and the other day, I decided to fry some bihun using the above.

I have tried something from this same company before but I do recall the packet being very small. Well, my Bintangor friend, now staying and teaching in Banting, Selangor, tried the paste and was praising it to the skies but no, I was not impressed at all.

This would be something like what I had here…

Nyonya Colours fried mee siam
*Archive photo*

– fried mee siam and though I quite enjoy it, I would much sooner go for the nyonya version. So, what’s stopping me, you may ask? Well, for one thing, I do not have all the ingredients to make sure it comes as close as possible to the real thing and another reason, of course, was that the last time I did it, I thought it was a whole lot of work…so I guess I will just wait till some special occasion when I would take out that very precious box of the ready-to-cook sauce and use. After all, it is almost RM20.00 a box here – the price alone does make it special, don’t you think? And that does not include all the ingredients, all those prawns and all.

So where did I go wrong the first time around? Well, my friend had udang galah (freshwater prawns) in hers and needless to say, one can never go wrong with those crustaceans. They are cheaper in Bintangor and everytime she went home, the parents would buy kilos and kilos for her to enjoy so you would see prawns all the time in the photos that she would share on Facebook. Humphhhh!!! Show off! Hehehehehe!!!!

On my part, I just used it and fried the bihun the same way I would fry much anything else, rice or noodles…but this time around, I noticed that they had some specific instructions at the back of the packet…

Prima Taste mee siam goreng paste 2

…so I followed those…as far as I could. I did Step 1 and 2 though I did add a stalk of serai (lemon grass) to it for added fragrance.

Then came Step 3. Add the eggs so soon? I always add the eggs last, never mind whether I am frying noodles or rice…so, I left the eggs till the end and instead, I added the prawns. I would have added them in Step 1 or here so that the sweetness would go into the sauce or the oil and subsequently, onto the bihun. Unfortunately, I was using these cheap tiny frozen shrimps…

Shrimps

…that I found in the freezer – RM5.00 for a packet at the supermarket and they were completely tasteless! I’ve seen these being used at the stalls for the mee goreng or the char kway teow or whatever – I guess at the prices they are going for, one can’t possibly expect them to use the regular ones, not even the very small ones.

I did not have any chives in the fridge so I had to do without those but I did add a bit of very thinly-sliced Thai basil and once it was done, I dished everything out and served…

Mee siam with Prima Taste paste

So was it any good? Any better than the previous time?

Yes, it was nice, more or less like my tom yam bihun, but a bit mild and that was probably because I used too much bihun. They never stated how much, not that I noticed, just “serves 1-2” and I used three pieces of the bihun, this brand…

A1 bihun
*Archive photo*

I’ll make sure I’ll cook just two with the remaining packet that I have in the pantry.

Nothing to it…

My girl and I bought this…

Smooth tofu

…for our steamboat dinner that night of the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節) or the Zhōngqiū Jié, also known as the Mooncake Festival on 15th last but the mum decided not to include it as there were simply too many things already for us to finish…and yes, true enough, we didn’t manage to eat everything.

My girl likes these that we can buy at our local supermarkets a lot more than our own Sibu-made ones sold at the wet market in town. They are softer and silkier and smoother…and they definitely will not have that smoky smell that we may get sometimes with our own tofu when they do not make it well.

I guess everyone would know by now my beta noire – how I just can’t stand seeing thing sitting idle in the fridge for too long so I just had to take it out and cook it. Incidentally, it says on the pack to “keep freeze 2°C – 5°C” [SIC] but I see them all the time at the supermarkets on the slightly chilled shelves and not in the freezer. Is it that cold or cold enough the way they are displayed?

Anyway, I did not feel like having soup that day so I decided to do it like how they do it in the restaurants…

Tofu with minced meat & salted fish
*Archive photo*

– with minced meat and salted fish but of course, mine would be very much simpler, I guess. Nothing to it, really! These were the ingredients that I prepared for use…

Ingredients

I did not have any salted fish in the house so I substituted it with ikan bilis (dried anchovies) that I fried till golden brown…

Fried ikan bilis

…and then crushed it all up with my batu lesung (mortar and pestle).

Using the same oil, I fried the ginger slices before throwing in the sliced chili and minced meat and then I added dark soy sauce and a bit of sugar to counter-balance the salty taste and finally, I added the crushed fried ikan bilis before pouring everything over the tofu that I had taken out and placed on a plate.

I steamed it for a while as I was not too sure about having the tofu cold and once done, I garnished it with some chopped spring onions…

Tofu with minced meat & ikan bilis 1

…and served.

Yes, it was very nice…

Tofu with minced meat and ikan bilis 2

…but no, it was not like those at the restaurants. For one thing, the ikan bilis did not taste anything like salted fish but it was nice in its own way and perhaps, I could have added some thinly-sliced dried shitake mushroom as well. I am pretty sure we have some somewhere in the house.

Ok, now that I’ve got the tofu out of the way, let’s see what else I can find sitting in the fridge…