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Last stop, this town…

After that heavy lunch at Sg Tenggang, I really did not feel like going for the celebrated giant prawn noodles at Jakar or Glory Cafe in Sarikei, so I thought I would just drop by Aik Seng in Sarikei for their famous charcoal-toasted bun with butter, own-made pandan kaya and peanut butter too! Unfortunately, luck was not on my side – the shop was closed!!!

That was why I ended up here…

Medan Selera Sarikei

…and when I asked the man at the steamed pao stall…

Pao stall

…there why Aik Seng was closed and whether it was their usual practice to have a rest day on Wednesday, he said he did not know. He thought it would be open all the time. Sigh!!! I guess it was just not meant to be – my finally getting to try the toast that people have praised to the skies.

I seemed to recall hearing something about the steamed pao at this place too – some people said that they were nice so I bought two of their char siew pao

Sarikei char siew pao 1

…and sat down…

Medan Selera Sarikei inside

…to eat.

I can’t say that I’m all that fond of the slightly yellowish old-school steamed pao skin but the filling…

Sarikei char siew pao 2

…was very nice and there was a bit of egg in it too…

Sarikei char siew pao 3

I would say I enjoyed it but no, I would not come all the way just to eat this, that’s for sure.

After that brief tea break in Sarikei, I headed back to Sibu and reached home at 4 something, and thus ended my brief trip to Kuching.

Incidentally, I must thank my uncle and his family in Kuching for making this bak koi (Chinese steamed egg cake with minced meat and fragrant fried shallots)…

Bak koi 1

…for me to bring  back home and they were so thoughtful as to pack a few bite-size pieces for me to eat along the way…

Bak koi 2

…too and I must also thank my auntie in Kuching for that pack of Kelantan-made serunding (beef floss) and my cousin for the goodies from her school…

Serunding & St 3's goodies

…and thanks again, all – my cousins and the mum, for the delightful dinner that I have blogged about earlier.

Back in Sibu, my good friend, Annie, in KL contacted me and asked me to get something from her mum who had just returned from a holiday there with her daughter and grandsons which I did…and guess what I got!

More serunding

Serunding!!! There is no label on that huge pack so my guess is that this would be a very special made-to-order one and my bet is that it is going to be really good!

Hmmmm!!! Now, let’s see what I can do with all that serunding. Yes, you guessed right – I’ve started off with this serunding fried rice…

Serunding fried rice

…and it turned out really very nice with the added Thai Basil leaves and chopped spring onions from my garden and my missus’ extra-hot pounded chili to complement all the flavours of the serunding. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that the next morning, I was delighted to find some more leftover rice in the fridge so I fried it again the exact same way…

Serunding fried rice, reprise

…and derived just as much pleasure from it the second time around!

Perhaps I can use it to make some serunding puffs…or some glutinous rice rolls with serunding filling too? We’ll see!

Never seen before…

I had never seen it before until I spotted it in Huai Bin’s post in his blog. Otak-otak sausages? Now, what on earth would those be? Sausages made from fish with otak-otak flavour? Gee!!! That’s new! I sure would love to give it a try, I thought to myself.

Well, it so happened that the other day, I spotted it…

Otak-otak sausages

…at the supermarket near my house. I can’t remember how much I paid for it but whatever it was, I just could not wait to try so I grabbed a pack of those, 10 inside, and took it home.

I did not even notice that they were, in fact, chicken sausages until the next morning when I took the above photograph prior to cooking them and I must say that I was a tad disappointed. Frankfurter ayam (chicken frankfurters)? Is it going to be any good, I wondered. Ah well, since I had bought it already, I might as well just cook and eat…which I did…

Breakfast

…with omelette and tomatoes on toast for my breakfast.

Yes, it was very nice indeed…despite the fact that it was chicken, not fish…

Otak-otak sausages, pan-fried

It had that same taste that one would get when eating otak-otak and I loved it though I did wish it could be just a little bit stronger for a much greater impact.

Yes, I’ve tried it and it was nice and I sure would not mind buying it again…but of course, the next time around, I would need to check the price. I guess it would be more or less the same as the regular Malaysian-made sausages (since they were placed in the freezer along with all the rest of them) and would be a lot more affordable that those very nice “branded” bangers that I bought once.

At the same time…

Last Saturday was the Chinese Dumpling or Dragon Boat Festival and Sunday, being the 3rd Sunday in June, was Father’s Day so we decided to celebrate both at the same time that evening.

Well, what happened was a couple of days after the dinner we had to celebrate my father’s birthday, my bedridden mum said she wanted to have a party again. “But we just had one,” we told her. “Maybe we can have another one in September for your birthday.” She persisted for a while and then she did not say anymore but she sure did not look happy. That was why seeing that there were these two occasions that we could celebrate at one go, I decided to cook some stuff for a simple “party”, just a small family affair.

I made some more meatballs but I decided not to have them the same way as the previous time so this time around, I cooked soup with them…

Meatball soup

…with quail eggs, thinly-sliced canned mushroom and Chinese cabbage. The soup tasted great but no, I did not like the meatballs this way – it certainly was a whole lot nicer the way we had them the previous time, deep fried and served with sweet and sour sauce.

I cannot remember if I’ve blogged about this but in my growing up years, my mum would slaughter the chickens herself and she would fry the innards with canned peas in tomato sauce…

Canned peas with chicken liver in tomato sauce

So to replicate that dish, I went to the market to buy some chicken liver. I asked the lady at one of the stalls the price and she said it was RM8.00 for a kilo. I told her that I wanted one piece – and instantly, the smile on her face disappeared. With that very disgruntled look, she picked out a couple, weighed them and said that would be RM1.00. I could not understand why she was so unhappy about it – I only needed a piece so I would not want to buy much more than that. If she had been very sweet and friendly, the next time I needed chicken or anything, I certainly would come back to her stall…but with that kind of attitude, no prize for guessing which stall would be the last I would go to. Tsk! Tsk!

I also bought these udang galah (freshwater prawns)…

Soy sauce prawns

…and fried them with ginger and soy sauce plus a little bit of sugar, the way my mum used to do it. There was a little bit egg left after making the aforementioned meatballs so I poured that in as well. These prawns were a bit bigger than the medium-sized ones that we would usually buy – RM50 a kilo…and the ones that day were not really good as the meat was not all that firm and succulent. However, there was a whole lot of that reddish pinkish stuff in the heads, what we call “kor“, and that is the best (very delicious) and also the worse (high cholesterol) part of the prawn. Never mind, at the current prices, we would not be buying them so often so we will only get to eat it once in a long while.

I also bought some salmon…

Salmon

…for my girl to enjoy – skin crispy and the fish nicely grilled on medium high in the pan and of course, she loved it…very very much!

I had to go out for something at around 11.00 a.m. that morning so I stopped by here to get the lovely barbecued pork ribs (RM28.00 a rack)…

Jack Pork barbecued pork ribs

…and I asked them to leave out the french fries (and the pickled cucumber) as the last time I bought this home, the fries were not nice at all by dinnertime (after reheating) but I asked them for more of their lovely potato salad…

Potato salad

– they usually serve the ribs on a bed of this and they did – they gave me quite a lot of it! This was only half of it – I saved the other half for my girl to bring back to her school and enjoy it there. Well, I certainly was glad that I went and bought the ribs as my dad loved it so very much and kept singing its praises!!!

 My sister also went and bought these Sibu-style sio bee and dumplings…

Sio bee and sui jiao

…and on top of all the above, my girl and the mum went to the bakery around here and bought this cute-looking Father’s Day cake…

Father's Day cake

…that we had for dessert and enjoyed very much. They said it was strawberry so I expected some reddish sponge cake inside but no, the cake was something like what one would find in blackforest cakes and they had strawberries in the cream in between the layers. It was very nice and yes, despite having had so much for dinner, I had a second helping!

Needless to say, it was a delightful gathering – the best times would be those times spent with one’s loved ones, I am sure everyone would agree with me on this.

Why can’t I…

The other day, I shared this photograph of my fried kway teow

Fried kway teow

…in my post and no, I would not say that it was an attempt on my part to whip up some Penang char kway teow as I am sure those armchair critics would come and start slamming me, insisting that it is nowhere like the real thing. Where is the duck egg? The taugeh (bean sprouts)? You did not fry it over a charcoal fire? Did you use lard? Where are the pork fat crusts? Does it have the wok hei smell? Sometimes, I really wonder whether they can even cook themselves at all but never mind! Sticks and stone may break my bones – words never will…and I will just say that I just fried the kway teow with garlic, soy sauce, prawns, fish cake slices and chopped spring onions plus two eggs and if I choose to do it in any which way I like, why can’t I?

Well, what happened that day was I went and bought one kilo of fresh kway teow (around RM2.00, I think – did not really take note of the exact price) just because I felt like it and the next morning, I cooked around half of it for breakfast. Of course, it was nice – you can’t go wrong with prawns! I had a plate of it myself, and it sure was a generous serving, and I left the rest for my missus. Normally, with my fried rice or fried bihun, there would be some left by lunch time and I would finish everything off then but that day, there was none left! Hmmmm…that probably was an indication as to how nice it was. Wink! Wink!

A few days later, I decided to finish off what was left of the 1 kilo and got the ingredients ready…

Ingredients

– finely chopped garlic and cilantro (daun sup – from my garden), a few prawns and pieces of squid and some fish cake slices.

I tossed the kway teow with fish sauce and Thai chili sauce…

Kway teow with fish sauce and chili sauce

…and I was ready to start cooking.

I fried the garlic in a bit of oil till golden brown and then in went the prawns, squid and fish cake and cilantro…followed by the kway teow and once I had mixed everything together thoroughly and fried it all well enough, I added two eggs. When the eggs were cooked, it was done and I dished it all out…

My fried kway teow 1

…sprinkled some chopped spring onions (also from my garden) on top and served. There you are – another version of my fried kway teow that I am sure is not like any other sold outside – just the way I like it!

I was quite tempted to use my tom yam sauce but decided against it as I wanted to try something different to see if it…

My fried kway teow 2

…was any good.

It went absolutely well with my missus’ own blended chili and garlic…

Blended chili and garlic

…and I would say that I enjoyed it very much but come lunchtime that day, there was a little bit left – less than one serving of the whole lot that I cooked…

My fried kway teow 3

Maybe I did not divide the kway teow equally so there was more this time around…or maybe, the way I cooked it the previous time was nicer? Never mind! There is no law that says I must cook it in any one way or other and if I choose to cook it like this or like that, why can’t I? Too bad if you  prefer it some other way, just eat! LOL!!!

Moving away from the post proper, I really must thank my girl’s ex-coursemate who has been posted to a school here in Sibu. He made some lovely banana cake…

Bubu's banana cake

…for his buka puasa (breaking of fast) and the nice and thoughtful guy went through the trouble of sending some to my house to let me enjoy. Isn’t that so sweet of him?

Can’t win ’em all…

I’ve tried the chicken kapitan and it was really good and the rendang was good too even though it did not turn out quite like rendang as I know it but then again, it could be because I did not really cook it right or I did not simmer it till the gravy had dried up. I can’t remember exactly what else I have tried or what my missus had taken to cook but so far, it all had been good. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about this one…

Pajeri nenas

To cook it, I had to go and buy some pineapples and that was why I was in the vicinity of this coffee shop that day. There is a stall selling fruits at a corner beside the big furniture shop in that area, durians when they are in season and presently, they are selling pineapples. I was shocked when they told me the price of ONE Sarikei pineapple, not all that big. It was 50 cents to a dollar in my younger days, colonial currency…and maybe, RM2.00 sometime ago, depending on whether it was in season and in abundance or not. The guy there told me it  was RM4.00 each (and I noticed that one was a lot bigger than the other and yet they were both going at that same price!). I asked about the “kelapa sawit ones” and he conceded that those would be sweeter but they would not be as fragrant and they were selling those at RM4.00 a kilo! In the end, I settled for the offer of 4 of the Sarikei ones for RM10.00…

Sarikei pineapples

…already peeled. People tell me that they are cheaper elsewhere in town but honestly, I would have thought the prices at a roadside stall like this one, dunno if it is licensed or not, would be a lot more competitive.

Anyway, I took them home and cooked two, using the instant paste following the instructions at the back…

Directions

I did add one cinnamon stick and two star anise plus a little bit of sugar to counter the sourish taste of the pineapples…but not the rest in the suggested list on the right.

The end result did look really good…

Pajeri nenas

…and ah yes! I added some prawns too as my cousin, who gave this to me, said it would enhance the taste and make it a whole lot nicer. Of course, we all know that one can never go wrong with prawns, don’t we? However, an old (literally) friend commented on my photograph on Facebook and said that pajeri nenas should not have any prawns and very sarcastically asked if it was my original recipe. I just replied saying that my cousin who gave me the paste asked me to add some, period! Really!!! Is there any steadfast rule that we must follow “rules” rigidly, no bending, no doing things our own way? Personally, I do not follow recipes and I will always do things my way, never mind how others do it – as long as it is nice, that is all that matters, right?

Anyway, back to the pajeri nenas

Pajeri nenas 2

…I am afraid to say that it was not as great as it looked. That taste was fine but somehow the gravy had some kind of peculiar “texture” – my missus said it was kind of “powdery” but it came in paste form, not powder. Maybe it was the blended ingredients but whatever it was, we did not enjoy it as much as we would have…and for RM8.64. I would much sooner go and buy something else instead.

Well, I had two of the four pineapples left so the following day, I decided to cook them in our simple kampung (village) style. Usually, to cook what we call sayur rebus, we would just boil some belacan (dried prawn paste), ikan bilis (dried anchovies) and fresh chilies in water and simmer to get all the flavours out and then throw in whatever vegetables we may be cooking, adding salt and msg according to taste, if so desired and that is it! This time around, I decided to substitute the ikan bilis with what we call kerutuh

Kerutuh
*Cousin’s photo on Facebook*

…or dried smoked prawns which would give the soup the sweetness of the prawns and the special smoked fragrance. I bought something like this once at my regular Malay/kampung food stall at Bandong…

Nenas salai ikan
*Archive photo*

…and they used salai ikan or smoked fish instead but it was also very nice, nonetheless. As they say, “the world is your oyster,” so who’s to say that it has to be ikan bilis or salai ikan or anything for that matter. I did add one star anise and a bit off a cinnamon stick for the added fragrance…and one stalk of serai (lemon grass) as well and this was the end result…

Nenas kerutuh rebus 1

…and yes, it was very very nice…

Nenas rebus kerutuh 2

– a lot nicer than what we had using the somewhat pricey over RM8.00 instant paste and this is just as hassle free too…or maybe, even more so.

Altogether…

Born in the Year of the Ox, my dad will celebrate his 90th birthday or his 91st, if we follow the Chinese Lunar calendar, this coming Sunday – the 28th Day of the 4th Month. He will celebrate it following his Chinese date of birth every year and in the past, my mum would do all the remembering as to which date exactly it would fall on and my sister will keep tab on it as well. These days, it is very easy to find out exactly when the date is on our regular western or Gregorian calendar via one of these websites…and I will always key in the reminder on my handphone to make sure that I do not forget.

However, this Sunday, my girl would have gone back to her school so he wanted to have it earlier so we could all sit down together for a dinner to celebrate and that was why we had it last Sunday evening. Instead of ordering food from outside, we decided it would be better (and nicer too) to cook a few dishes ourselves and that was exactly what we did. For one thing, my parents do not have very strong teeth so they would not be able to enjoy any meat or anything for that matter that is way too tough for them to chew and of course, if we cook our own, there would not be that overdose of msg that we often get when we have anything from the Chinese restaurants outside.

They love phak lor duck – stewed duck with soy sauce and five spice powder…

Five spice stewed duck

…and we cannot get any outside that will be exactly like how my mum would cook it in the past so we decided to have that. My missus can cook it that same way as her mum used to cook it like that too in her family. Of course, duck can be very tough so she cooked it the night before, heated it up the next morning and again, that afternoon so that by dinner time, it was really very nice and tender.

There was this dish that my dad used to buy home from an old-school restaurant in town and we loved it a lot. Unfortunately, the last time I went there, the waitress taking our orders said she never heard of it and it was not on their menu. We wanted to have that for old times’ sake and my parents would not have a problem chewing. I made the meatballs more or less the same way that I did the other day, replacing the beef with minced pork (and leaving out the mixed herbs and spices) and later in the evening, my missus cooked the sweet and sour sauce for them, the same way she would cook the sauce for her sweet and sour fish

Sweet and sour meatballs

Everybody certainly enjoyed the meatballs that night, I must say.

And talking about fish, I went and bought this white pomfret (ikan bawal putih/pek chio) and my missus steamed it…

Steamed white pomfret
*Oops!!! Sorry, the snapshot came out a bit blur!*

My father loves the white or silver variety and is not all that fond of the black ones that would have a stronger smell and of course, he loved this very much. The fish was very fresh and nice – when you go for something like this outside, it would be rather expensive plus at times, especially when it is steamed, the fish would taste kind of bland, probably not all that fresh, and I would have to resort to eating it with a lot of soy sauce and sliced red chili to make it more palatable.

We also had a simple sweet corn soup to wash every thing down and this salad dish…

Salad

…with our special salad dressing that has been in my maternal side of the family for years and years. Inside, there were boiled prawns, potatoes, egg…and tomato and cucumber slices. We had a problem getting the lettuce as for some reason or other, there was none available anywhere in town. Hmmm…no wonder that day when we had lunch at the Italian restaurant, they were using what we call Sabah eyew chai instead. Finally, we had no choice but to go in search of our local ones at our Sibu Central Market and there was none to be seen…until I saw a handful with very small leaves at one stall. I grabbed all of it, of course, and the girl asked for only 30 sen for the very much coveted stuff. There was just enough for the dish that night, thankfully!

I could see that both my parents enjoyed everything – they did eat quite a lot and there were smiles all around. My dad commented that it was good that we could still cook like this – I guess what he meant was that we could cook dishes the way my mum did before she became bedridden some 9 years or so ago. He must have missed her cooking very much.

Yes, it was a small simple celebration – just the three of us with my parents and my sister but it was, without doubt, a good and meaningful one – nothing beats having the family members altogether especially in one’s golden years.

Rolling in the deep…

I had two packets of the IKEA meatball sauce…

IKEA meatball sauce
*Archive photo*

…left in the house and when I checked, one had expired in January and upon pressing, it seemed that the powder had gone hard inside so I had no choice but to throw it away. The other one had also expired at the end of May but I decided to just use it anyway and yes, it turned out all right in the end…

Meatball sauce

Of course, that meant that I would need to cook some meatballs so we could enjoy them together with the sauce.

I chopped one Bombay onion and added some bread crumbs plus a sprinkling of mixed herbs and freshly-ground pepper…

Onion, bread crumbs, herbs and pepper

…before mixing that with the minced beef and some chopped spring onions…

Beef and spring onions

…from my garden.

I mixed everything together thoroughly and then I added half an egg, beaten, to act as a binding agent. Having done that, I rolled the mixture into balls…

Ready to fry

…and deep-fried them, making sure that the oil was very hot before I put them in and keeping track of the fire, alternating between high and medium to make sure that it would not be too hot while I kept rolling the balls around to brown them nicely on all sides. Then I fished them out and let them stand on some kitchen towel to drain away any excess oil.

I also cooked some mashed potatoes and using the ice cream scoop, I shaped them nicely…

Mashed potatoes

…and put them in the oven so as to have a nice golden tinted top like this…

Mashed potatoes done

My girl and the mum were out that day and she texted me to let me know that they would not be back for lunch. Oh well, I guessed I could just have a bit myself and save all the rest for all of us for dinner…and I was already very hungry by then. That was why I did not wait for the mashed potatoes to be ready and just had two scoops like this…

Mashed potatoes, two scoops

…together with the meatballs…

Three meatballs

…plus the gravy and tomato slices by the side. I must have been very hungry by then so my hands were kind of shaky and all the photographs that I took did not come out well except for these few…

Lunch is served

…that are actually quite blurry, not all that sharp. Tsk! Tsk!

Yes, we had all the rest for dinner and yes, my girl enjoyed it very very much…so needless to say, I was very pleased with myself. Hehehehehe!!!!