There is…

I’ve been blogging about the very nice premium New Zealand beef lately and if anyone is wondering whether there is lamb as well, the answer is yes, there is!

Actually, I bought these New Zealand lamb slices…

Swee Hung NZ lamb

…sometime ago also at that shop near my house, together with the beef briskets, but for reasons unknown, my missus never got round to cooking them.

That was why when I overheard my girl telling her that she would like to make a shepherd pie…

Melissa's shepherd pie

…for lunch that day, I told her to use that instead of beef, in which case it would be called a cottage pie.

It turned out really nice. For the filling, she did not follow the traditional recipe with minced meat and peas. Instead, she cooked her own, something like a dry version of lamb stew with the meat, carrots, celery, Bombay onions and what not…

Melissa's shepherd pie, slice

…and of course, she was very generous with the cheese, mozzarella and parmesan. Yes, it was good and we all enjoyed it to the max.

I wouldn’t say they are all that cheap, the beef and the lamb, but I must say we are indeed very happy now that we can get these here, especially when what we have used them to cook has turned out really well. These sure are a welcome change from pork or chicken day in, day out.

SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441) is located along Jalan Ruby, in the block of shops on the right – next to a hair salon at the extreme end…and on the other end, to the left is the Kim Won Chinese Medical Store and Mini-supermarket.

Sure am glad…

Some of you may remember me saying on more than one occasion that we cannot buy fresh beef here in Sibu.

We could…once upon a time, a long long time ago. There was one solitary stall (High Street side) at the Sibu wet market when it was in its original location run by an old Malay man assisted by two young guys, probably his sons or whoever. Supply was reliable – we could just go and buy whenever we needed beef.

When the market moved to its current location, they also moved. I did not see the old man anymore then – the younger guys had taken over and some days, it would be open, not every day! I joined the mile-long queue once and I watched the guy at work. The leg was hanging on one side of the stall and his sharpening stone at the other end. He would sharpen his teeny weeny knife and walk over and cut a bit of something in the leg and then he went back to the stone to sharpen his knife again. I was so pissed off at how he was going at a snail’s pace, taking his sweet time and simply ignoring his customers when so many people were standing there, waiting to buy so I just left without buying.

The Kuching franchise, Sarabif, had an outlet here once but it did not last very long. For one thing, it was at some God-forsaken place in some back alley – people going marketing would not be coming that way to buy the beef and I did hear something about some problem they faced in transporting the meat all the way from Kuching…as they (probably the franchise holder) did not have one of those trucks with freezing facilities.

So all this while, we had to buy those frozen imported beef. Even those from Australia and New Zealand were as tough as leather and so very difficult to cut and slice, what more to say, eat and some, dunno from where, even had an unpleasant smell. I sure am glad that nowadays, we can buy premium beef from New Zealand, pre-sliced/cut and vacuum-packed like the beef briskets that I used to cook the lovely soup that day.

My missus bought this…

New Zealand beef striploin

…from a supermarket in town and my girl used it to cook this most delightful beef stew…

Melissa's beef stew

Of course, she was so happy especially after that last one that we had

Kah Hiong beef stew

…that did not tickle her fancy – so Chinese, she said. Just one pack with a whole lot of potatoes and carrots and there was enough to last for two meals over two days!

My missus said she could not remember how much she paid for it, probably over RM30.00. Perhaps hers was a bigger pack but I saw that at the place where I bought the oysters that day and they were around RM20.00 only, some more, some less depending on the net weight so of course, I quickly grabbed a few packs to keep in the freezer to cook as and when we feel like it. They also had ribeye cuts and yes, I did buy a few of those too.

Incidentally, i was driving past the Sibu Central Market mid-morning sometime ago, probably before the pandemic outbreak and lo and behold! I could not believe my eyes when I saw that the aforementioned beef stall was open for business!!! No, thank you! I am quite happy with what I can get and frankly, the way those people run their business, it is a wonder they can last this long!

CCL FRESH MINI MARKET is located at the end of the block to the right of the Grand Wonderful Hotel (2.309601, 111.845163) along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, on your left just before the Petronas petrol station a short distance from Delta Mall. You can also go in via Lorong Pipit 4, turning left into the lane at the junction where Starbucks Sibu is located and go straight ahead from there.

Let’s try again…

My girl bought two packets of this…

Tepung cucur, Nona

…batter mix for making plain cucur (fritters) but she did not think it was very nice. In the meantime, she bought another brand for cucur udang (prawn fritters) and it was very much nicer. Since then, she would buy that one.

Well, instead of letting it sit there in the pantry till kingdom come, I went and plucked some of the cangkok manis

Cangkok manis

…growing in my garden. A West Malaysian friend corrected me on Facebook that day saying that the vegetable is called cekur manis so I went and googled to check. What I found out was it is called cangkok manis in Brunei Malay so I guess because of our close proximity, we call it by that same name in our Sarawak Malay dialect, different from how they call it in the mainland. There is a stunted variety exported from Sabah – they call it sayur manis. It looks the same, tastes the same…except that it is very small.

My girl was telling me about how the canteen people in her school would make some very nice cucur cangkok manis for them to enjoy during their tea break everytime when they had a meeting or workshop outside school hours. I had never seen that being sold anywhere so I had not had the chance to try it before.

Of course, I had to tear the leaves first into tiny bits and pieces for use and I also added a bit of this bubuk

Bubuk

…or dried krill shrimps. However, I only added a bit, one table spoon, as I was afraid that the smell/taste might be too strong.

The process was very simple, real easy – I just had to add 200 ml of water to the batter mix…

Add water

…and mix well. I added a little bit more, actually – 250 ml and when it was ready, in went the cangkok manis and bubuk

Cangkok manis & bubuk added

I heated some oil in a pan and when it was hot enough, I scooped the batter with a spoon and dropped it in one by one, letting each fritter cook till golden brown….

Cucur cangkok manis

There you are, all done!

Yes, it was nice, a little bit spicy – I guess they had chili in the batter mix and with the added ingredients, we all thought it was much nicer than just cooking it straight from the packet. Perhaps the next time around I could be more generous with the bubuk – couldn’t put my finger on it in the cucur and perhaps I could add prawns, spring onions, shallots or whatever to being the taste to a whole new level.

We do what we can…

When I went out for lunch that day with my good friend/ex-classmate, Robert and his wife, Angela, the latter gave me some kind of preserved vegetable, sawi, that she made herself. They said I could just fry with garlic to eat – that would be very nice already or if I so desire, I could add minced meat or whatever.

Well, I did it my way and this…

Cooked my way

…was what I came out with in the end.

These days, with the CMCO lockdown, it is difficult to buy and store green vegetables. Yes, there are some that can keep very well but the leafy ones will start to wilt after a few days and if not cooked and eaten right away, they will end up being thrown away. Well, we do what we can and one solution is to make salted or preserved vegetables out of them. I guess this was what Angela did…

Angela's preserved vegetables

…and she probably made quite a lot so there was enough to give me some. Obviously, it had not been preserved long enough for it to mature so there was the strong smell of sawi still.

Yes, I was told to slice it thinly…

Thinly sliced

…and that was what I did but other than that, I went on to cook it my own way.

I’m not sure if my missus would use garlic but I am quite positive that usually, when we cook salted or preserved vegetables, we would use ginger. Of course, I would want some chilies for that added kick and that day, I used prawns…

Ingredients

…instead of meat.

I heated up some oil and fried the ginger slices well in it before adding the chili followed by the prawns, adding a bit of water in the process so it will not dry up and also for the sauce. When the prawns were cooked, I added the vegetables and mixed everything well and after frying for a bit, it was done…

Fried preserved vegetables

There was no need for any seasoning as it was salty enough and the prawns sure made the sauce really nice and sweet.

We enjoyed it very much and yes, it was great with rice but of course, it would go well with porridge too.

La mer…

La mer is French, meaning the sea and if you are one of those who love anything that has what they call “the smell of the sea“, for instance, clam chowder or squid ink pasta, you should check this…

Koreno

…out.

This brand sure needs no introduction as it has been around for a very long time. Long long ago, a student of mine asked me to go and try this very nice Korean noodles – I think it was this brand – so I went and bought one, RM2.00 a packet. Yes, it was very nice – the texture of the noodles and the taste as a whole were great, a cut above the rest and nothing like the spicy ones that have taken the world by storm today but it did take a while longer to cook. Of course, at that price, I never did go back to buy more, thank you very much.

All this while, I assumed it was a Korean product. That was why I was rather surprised to see so much Vietnamese words on the packet. Upon closer scrutiny, I saw that it is now made in Vietnam.

Well, my missus came home the other day with two packs of their noodles. My girl said there was some kind of promotion going on right now…and a few days later, the mum tried a packet of this one for breakfast and was praising it to the skies. The daughter followed suit the following morning and she too liked it a lot. Needless to say, not to be left out, the father simply had to try as well. LOL!!!

There are two sachets…

Sachets

…inside with the noodles, one with the seasoning and the other with the dehydrated seaweed.

The instructions said that I would have to boil some water and cook the seaweed first to rehydrate it. I also threw in two of the fresh, sweet and succulent prawns that I had in the freezer and once done, I added the noodles and half of the sachet of the seasoning. I could smell the fragrance of the clam soup, that “smell of the sea”, while it was cooking and yes, I did put in a few Thai basil leaves from my garden too. Once done, I garnished it with a bit of chopped spring onion, also from my garden…

Clam instant noodles

…and served.

Yes, it was very nice. I think the next time I go back to that shop where I bought the oysters that day, I would buy their frozen clams – they do have those, just like the ones in the picture on the packet. I bet if we add those, it will bring the taste to a whole new level.

Dynamite…

If you are into k-pop, you probably would know that “Dynamite” is a single released by BTS on 21st August, 2020. ARMY streamed and worked very hard which led “Dynamite” to become the most viewed music video within 24 hours with 101.4 million views in the shortest amount of time and the first ever single by a Korean k-pop group to have 2 #1s on the Billboard Hot 100.

Well, I’m not into that kind of music, not at all, nor most of anything Korean, actually and to me, “dynamite” is a slang word used to mean awesome. Now, the question is: would I say this plate of noodles…

Bulgogi ramen

…is dynamite? Read on to find out what I think about it.

The ladies in the house have been buying all kinds of Korean noodles, most of them ridiculously spicy and needless to say, I would not touch them with a ten-foot pole until one day, when my girl came home with this…

Bulgogi ramen, packet

I think she got it from the supermarket at the mall near my house. She cooked a packet and let me try a bit and I would say that I quite liked it. Of course, she loved it to bits!!!

I decided to cook a packet myself that day and other than the noodles, there was this sachet…

Soup base sachet

…inside. Soup? But my girl had it served dry.

I decided I would follow the way she did it and I heated a bit of the beef soup that I cooked the day before and a few slices of the meat and once it had started boiling, I added half of the soup base in the sachet…

Ingredients

…before adding the noodles and mixing everything together well.

Once the sauce had dried up, I dished out the noodles, sprinkled some chopped spring onion from my garden on top and served…

Bulgogi ramen

Yes, it was nice but no, I would not say it was dynamite! At the end of the day, it is what is is – instant noodles and knowing the prices of those Korean imports, I am pretty sure that for one packet of that, I can buy those Indonesian instant mi goreng, RM2.99 for a pack of 5 and enjoy it just as much, if not more.

DELTA – THE MARKETPLACE (2.311968, 111.847043) is located in the basement of the Delta Mall, Taman Seduan 8, Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai (formerly Jalan Pedada).

Tenderly…

I have been buying these packs of New Zealand premium beef brisket slices…

New Zealand premuim beef brisket slices

…prepared and packed by some place here in Sibu. This is so convenient – no need to buy those huge hard-as-a-rock frozen chunks and go through the chore of slicing them. Incidentally, the price may vary a little according to the weight of the meat inside.

My missus had taken at least two packs to cook already – I can’t remember what we had the first time but the second time around, she just defrosted and deep-fried and she complained that the meat was tough. I can recall quite clearly that no, it was not fall-off-the-bone tender but it was quite all right, not really that tough but I guess this would be best for curries, stews and soups where you can simmer for a longer time.

Anyway, the other day, I took a pack and I plucked a papaya leaf…

Papaya leaf

…from my garden. I pounded the leaf and mixed it well with the meat after I had defrosted it and I let it stand for over an hour.

Be forewarned that you must not over-tenderise the meat. Once I bought the bottled papaya juice, a meat tenderiser and that morning, I marinated the slabs of beef with it for our barbecue that night.  Everyone was complaining that the beef did not have the texture of meat, more like tofu and of course, it was not nice at all.

Anyway, back to what I did that morning, I rinsed the meat well to get rid of the bits of the leaf and cut it into smaller bite-size slices before throwing it into the slow cooker together with one big Bombay onion and a handful of black peppercorn…

Into the slow cooker

…and I turned it on. When the juices had come out of the meat, I added water, potatoes – pre-peeled and cut into smaller chunks, and a bit of spices (star anise, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon) and left it to boil and cook.

When it was done, I sprinkled a bit of seasoning and added the chopped spring onions from my garden (no daun sup/Chinese parsley available at the moment) and my beef soup…

My beef soup

…was ready to be served!

Yes, it was so very nice – the soup was very flavourful and I don’t know whether it was the papaya leaf or the slow cooker or both but the meat was very tender. I sure would want to stock up on some more of those packs of beef brisket slices for use as and when the need arises.

SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441) is located along Jalan Ruby, in the block of shops on the right – next to a hair salon at the extreme end…and on the other end, to the left is the Kim Won Chinese Medical Store and Mini-supermarket.

The world is your oyster…

I know it is a somewhat privileged and a prestigious thing to do – to eat fresh raw oysters but no, it is not something we fancy. I joined a contest on the radio and won a free two-night stay at this hotel…

Melia Kuala Lumpur

…many years back and the prize included a buffet dinner for two. Of course, we were delighted when we saw there were oysters in the buffet spread and we quickly helped ourselves to those. Sadly, we did not like it at all and ended up leaving them by the side of our plates.

However, we do enjoy them cooked, like the or chian (oyster omelette) here

Or chian, Sibu

I’ve gone back to buy it home for our meals a few times already so imagine my delight when I spotted this…

Frozen oyster meat

…at a shop here that sells among other things, all kinds of frozen products.

I haven’t the slightest idea where they come from but upon closer scrutiny, it is packed by some place here in Sibu and of course, RM13.90 for a whole pack of them is really so very cheap.

No, my girl did not want the mum to cook it or chian-style – she did try once and she was not very successful to say the least. I remember she could not get the gooey bits in the omelette right. Besides, we used to enjoy the fried oyster fritters from that New Zealand franchise, The Fish Shop, I think it was called and my girl wanted those…

Fried oyster fritters

It sure turned out really well…

Fried oyster fritter

One bite into one of them and my girl was prompted to remark as to how she missed those wonderful days in Wellington when she would go and buy these to enjoy.

Seeing how well it turned out, I certainly will make my way back to the shop again to stock up on more of those oysters. I wonder how long they can keep…

CCL FRESH MINI MARKET is located at the end of the block to the right of the Grand Wonderful Hotel (2.309601, 111.845163) along Jalan Pipit, off Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai, on your left just before the Petronas petrol station a short distance from Delta Mall. You can also go in via Lorong Pipit 4, turning left into the lane at the junction where Starbucks Sibu is located and go straight ahead from there.

I found…

I was at the grocery store right next to the coffee shop here and I was attracted by these very colourful boxes, this one…

La Pasta Royale instant spaghetti - cheese bolognese

…and this one…

La Pasta Royale instant spaghetti - hot & spicy

…and of course, I simply HAD to buy to give them a try. After all, they are only RM3.20 a box. If you think you can go to some café and have a plate of pasta for that kind of money, dream on!!!

My girl wanted to give it a try right away that evening and she picked that first one. Inside the box, there were the spaghetti, a sachet containing the bolognese sauce and a packet of cheese powder…

Inside the box

The instructions said to boil for 4 minutes but it turned out that the pasta had to be boiled a little longer, say, around 6 minutes.

My girl loved it…

La Pasta Royale instant spaghetti

…this product of Indonesia. I did try a bit myself too and yes, I would say it was good. I guess you will need to add your own ingredients or your own extra parmesan if you so desire.

HEW KEE HONG SHOP (2.307538, 111.824968) is located at 2, Lorong Delta 10, right beside Tung Ming Cafe.

Pierced…

I went back to that shop near my house to reciprocate for their kindness and honesty in returning my RM100.00 note to me.

I bought a pack of the black vinegar pork trotters (RM30.00) that I tried before and yes, I did enjoy that. The lady boss asked me to buy the ribs from Kuching again but I did not feel like having another go at it. Another time, perhaps!

Then she asked me to try this…

Thai pork sticks

…something that we had not tried before, she said.

The packaging looked kind of Japanese – that was why I was surprised to see it labelled “Thai pork stick” and yes, there were some Thai characters as well so I assumed it was a product of Thailand. I was doubly surprised when upon closer scrutiny, I realised that it was actually made in Miri…

Made in Miri

…right here in Sarawak.

I wrapped the tray with aluminum foil and lined it with kunyit (turmeric) leaves. The slices of meat are pre-marinated and pierced through with skewers, not unlike those Japanese yakitori. I placed a big Thai basil leaf under each slice and arranged them nicely in the tray…

Into the tray

…after which, I added some more Thai basil leaves on top…

With Thai basil leaves added

I reckoned that if they were supposedly Thai, they should taste Thai in some way.

I grilled them for 30 minutes on one side before turning them over to grill some more on the other side and after another 15 minutes or so, they were done…

Grilled

Yes, they were very nice – we all loved them very much, just that they did not taste exotic, not anything like one would expect from a Thai dish. Instead, we thought it was a little bit like a cross between bak kua and char siew and yes, the meat was nice and tender.

At RM29.00 for a pack of 10 sticks, it worked out to RM2.90 a stick that was about the size of 3 regular sticks of satay. I would say it was not expensive and of course, most importantly, we did enjoy them very much. I definitely would go back and buy a few more packs to stock in our freezer and the next time we cook, I would not stop at just those Thai basil leaves but would go all the way instead – serai (lemon grass), sawtooth coriander, the whole works! If it’s Thai, it must taste Thai, not Chinese! LOL!!!

SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441) is located along Jalan Ruby, in the block of shops on the right – next to a hair salon at the extreme end and on the other end, to the left is the Kim Won Chinese Medical Store and Mini-supermarket.