Branching out…

The Kitchen Food instant Sibu kampua is no stranger to a lot of people, I’m sure – this US blogger gave the dark soy sauce version a 5 out of 5 and the original version (white) a 4 out of 5.

Some of my friends have blogged about it too, here or here and here, for instance. It is very well-marketed throughout the whole country and even down south in Singapore and next door in Brunei and in countries overseas.

Not too long ago, I saw a photograph on Facebook shared by the very enterprising owner of the company, Eric and it seemed that he would be branching out into Sarawak/Kuching laksa as it looked like he was working on his own-prepared sambal laksa and true enough, that was exactly what he did!

That day, when I saw this…

The Kitchen Food Sarawak laksa ramen

…at the shop round the corner from my house, I wasted no time at all in grabbing a pack to try.

Inside, there were 4 packets, over RM2.20 each…

What's inside

…and other than the noodles, there were three sachets, one big one of the sambal laksa and two small ones. My guess was the latter two would be the santan (coconut milk) powder and the seasoning – there was no indication outside and both looked the same, white.

The noodles did not look like a lot but once cooked, there was definitely enough…

Noodles

…for a bowl. You boil the noodles for two minutes after which you drain and rinse it to remove the excess starch so the strands will not stick together in  a clump.

It so happened that a few days earlier, I had bought some big pek hay (white seawater prawns) from the market, RM45.00 a kilo, so I took some and boiled them and at the same time, I also fried some omelette and sliced it very very thinly and I blanched some taugeh (bean sprouts), tails removed, for the added ingredients in my bowl of Sarawak/Kuching laksa

Added ingredients/toppings

…I had some tofu puffs in the fridge too so I sliced those and in it went with the rest. Usually, in a bowl of this local delight, you will find some shredded chicken as well but I did not bother about that.

I used the prawn stock – the water used to boil the aforementioned prawns – to cook the broth. Once I had brought it to boil, I emptied the contents of the sachets into it, stirred till everything had dissolved and then I poured it into the bowl…

Ready to serve

…and garnished it with finely-chopped spring onion and daun sup (Chinese parsley) from my garden and served. I wouldn’t know but my guess is if you do not have any prawns and are cooking the broth using plain water, it may not be so nice.

Just as in the case of the made-in-Kuching instant Sarawak/Kuching laksa and those tak-payah-tapis (no need to sieve) sambal laksa, I would prefer to let the sediments settle first while pouring the broth slowly into the bowl or use a strainer to filter it so I would get a nice, clean broth, minus all those specks of the residue of the sambal but I guess that is just my OCD – others probably would not mind as much.

The fragrance filled the whole house while I was cooking, a whole lot more fragrant than when I was cooking it from scratch using the sambal laksa available at the shops and of course, I made sure that I had some pounded belacan (dried prawn paste) and calamansi lime to go with it…

Served

…the complete works.

We certainly enjoyed that to the max – it was really very very good but for die-hard true blue Sarawak/Kuching laksa connoisseurs like us, we would prefer bihun (rice vermicelli) instead of noodles or ramen, whichever way you choose to call it but perhaps the uninitiated US blogger would enjoy it this way, I wouldn’t know.

I saw that they have other new products – the spicy vinegar noodles and the red yeast rice kampua and they also have the two variations of the mee pok but no, I have not tried those. So far, I did buy their mee sua or our Foochow longevity noodles (just the noodles, no ingredients provided) and no, it did not get me all excited but of course, everyone loves the kampua – straight (handmade) or curly (machine made), original or with black soy sauce and everybody says that they are just like the real thing!!! You can check out the list here to see if you can grab hold of some from a store near you!

Double…

This was around two weeks ago when my niece, the one working in Singapore, came back to Sibu on the 13th instant for the Mooncake Festival. Her parents were out of town, gone on a holiday, so we asked her to join us for a steamboat dinner that evening, just a simple one as we were going to have something a little bit more special the next day.

She brought along these…

Starbucks mooncakes 1

…but she shouldn’t have because I am very sure they did not come cheap – nothing from there is cheap plus they…

Starbucks mooncakes 2

…were small, hard and dry. The tiramisu one tasted nice and surprisingly, I quite liked the matcha one even though I am not into anything green tea but on the whole, I would much sooner go for the very cheap and very much nicer homemade ones from the neighbourhood shop.

The following day, the 14th, was her birthday and my girl’s was a few days later on the 17th so we decided to have a double celebration and we ordered two cakes, one for my girl…

Cake by Marcus

…and one for my niece to cut and then take back to Singapore to enjoy it slowly there…

Double celebration

Instead of going to the same ol’ restaurants everytime somebody celebrates a birthday, my missus said she would cook some special dishes for the dinner that night.

I only cooked the chicken in traditional Foochow red wine soup for the mee sua (longevity noodles)…

Mee sua

…and an egg each for all of us.

Unfortunately, the photos I took did not turn out too well and I only had this one of the roasted rack of lamb…

Rack of lamb

…and this one of my missus’ version of the ayam masak kunyit

Ayam masak kunyit

…to show. This was the first time she cooked a rack of lamb – she did cook lamb shank a few times before – and yes, she certainly did a very good job with all the herbs and spices and yogurt that went into the cooking.

My niece sure enjoyed the home-cooked food to the max. It has been sometime since she last had the opportunity, not since Chinese New Year, I think.

Well, once again, here’s wishing a VERY belated Happy Birthday to the two girls, may God bless you both abundantly with good health, endless joy…and blue skies and everything nice. Cheers!!!

Rare…

That afternoon, when my girl and I went walking around that brand new food court in town, she spotted this stall…

Stall

…and told me they had fried carrot cake there. I did not notice that giant radish or what we call pek chai thow/white carrot there on the sign.

Unlike over in the peninsula where it is called koey kah at some places, this is something quite rare here – there may be a stall or two somewhere that we do not know about. So of course, I gotta try that and I asked for it to be packed for me to take home.

It did look like the cake had been pre-fried a bit, probably with a bit of soy sauce, first…

Pre-fried

…and I saw the guy pouring a little bit of oil onto the hot plate to which he added some chopped garlic, pork rinds(crackling)/chicharron and dunno what else…

Fry the ingredients

…to fry for a while before he added the steamed (white) carrot/radish cake…

Add cake

…after which he added the taugeh (bean sprouts) and finally, the egg…

Add taugeh and egg

…and when it was done, he fished everything out and packed it nicely (RM6.00)…

Done

…for me to take home. I would say it was very nice and I did not see him adding any msg which is a bonus point in their favour. I sure would not mind going back for it again.

KIM HOCK PREMIER FOOD COURT (2.301777, 111.843215) is located along Jalan Dr Wong Soon Kai (formerly Jalan Pedada) somewhere opposite Wisma Liberty and Wisma Sri Minyak.

Pretty close…

One can get to eat Kuching laksa, otherwise known as Sarawak laksa, most anywhere in the country and even overseas. I heard that they were selling it in Auckland, New Zealand for NZD15.00 a bowl! *faints* Of course, whether it is anything like the real thing is another question altogether.

Here in Sibu, there is no problem going for a bowl but as far as I know, there is only one here that is like the good ones in Kuching. There are some nice ones, some very popular even, but somehow, in my opinion, they are not quite the same, very nice but different.

When my girl was still in the school in the jungle, during that time when she had to abstain from anything not gluten-free, I bought her two packets of this…

Lee Fah Sarawak laksa

They had it in big packs of five before but it looks like they now have it individually though I would not say I liked their choice of colours or design. Surely they could employ somebody to design something a lot more attractive than that. She had not cooked them to eat by the time she got her transfer to a school in town so we took them home.

Inside the pack, you will find the bihun and three sachets – one containing the seasoning, another the coconut cream in powder form and the third one, the sambal laksa

Contents

I cooked a packet sometime ago, throwing everything into the pot once the water started boiling and it came out as one gooey mess, not a sight to behold even though it tasted all right. That was why when I cooked the second pack the other morning, I boiled the bihun first and drained it well before putting it in a bowl…

Bihun & omelette

I also fried an omelette and cut it into very thin strips to add to it.

Next, I boiled some prawns and once cooked, I fished them out to go into the bowl…

Prawns added

There is shredded chicken too in the real thing but it was my no-meat Friday and we did not have any taugeh (bean sprouts) in the fridge at that point in time.

I kept the water in which I had boiled the prawns to use as stock and I put in the contents of the three sachets. Once ready, I poured the broth/soup into the bowl…

Broth/soup added

…and garnished it with chopped daun sup (Chinese parsley) from my garden.  There is no need to sieve the broth but at the bottom, there will be a bit of the residue of the sambal.  What I did was I poured it slowly and carefully and once I had almost reached the bottom where the residue was, I just poured that away.

I would say that it was nice…

Lee Fah Sarawak laksa, served

…nicer than those at some of the shops here but the broth was a tad too salty for me. Perhaps, I should have used half of the seasoning or add more water and use my own bihun for another bowl.

I can’t remember how much I paid for them now and I would not say it was a must-buy and a must-eat but I guess if one is too lazy to go out to the shops or living some place where one cannot get to eat this easily or the ones available suck big time, then this is a pretty close substitute.

A little bit stronger…

Those of you who have been faithfully following my blog would probably remember our Sunday bak kut teh lunch here sometime last month.

I enjoyed their soup version with its fairly strong herbal taste and fragrance so I could not resist buying their DIY pack…

BKT DIY pack

…home to try and cook our own.

The other day, my missus decided to use it to cook and inside, there were four packets…

Inside

…one of the herbs, another filled with dark soy sauce and one, sugar and msg and last but not least, one had cornflour inside.

There was also this piece of paper…

Instructions

…inside with the instructions and what not. Unfortunately, they are in Mandarin and Malay only so if you are thinking of giving it to someone overseas who can read neither of the two languages, perhaps you will need to write a translation.

For one thing, the herbs are not packed in a pouch so one would need to sieve the soup once all is done. The lovely fragrance filled the house when the soup was simmering and yes, it…

Bak kut teh

…tasted really good but I thought it was somewhat watered down, not as nice as what we had at the shop. Perhaps, should we buy it again to cook, we can cut down on the water – by a quarter or more so that the herbal soup would turn out a little bit stronger.

The outlet of the MASTER LEE KLANG CLAYPOT BAK KUT TEH (2.306941, 111.836912) that we went to is located among the Rejang Park shops in the block to the left of what-used-to-be a cinema between Sin Nang Leong General Store and King Hua Hair Salon.

Nuts…

I mentioned in an earlier post that I went browsing around the Sibu Central Market the other morning. I like going there early as it will not be so crowded and it will be very much cooler as well – the only drawback would be how some of the stalls are not open yet like the ones at the native/ethnic jungle produce section and the stalls selling hay bee (dried prawns), belacan (dried prawn paste) and what not.

I did not have any intention to buy anything specifically but I saw these very nice pisang keling

Pisang keling

…literally translated as Indian bananas, RM4.00 a kg and I bought 2 kg, RM8.00 altogether. This is my favourite variety – I may buy the others like the chay gay (in Hokkien – I think it is called Cavendish in English) or the pisang emas (golden bananas) when this particular variety is not available. It does seem to be getting harder to get these days – more often than not, it is not available and that was why the moment I spotted them that day, I just had to grab some, no second thoughts about it.

At another stall, I saw these groundnuts…

Groundnuts

– another thing that is not easy to come by here and when we do come across any, they will be small and very dirty. These looked like they had gone through the trouble of washing them nicely but even so, we did rinse them again a bit before cooking. Of course, I had to buy them – my girl enjoys eating these a lot – RM10.00 a kg.

Cooking is easy – just submerge in water, add a little salt and bring it to boil, something like how we cooked corn the other day. except that you will have to boil them a whole lot longer, for an extended period of time until the nuts become very soft…

Cooked till soft

…like those braised peanuts…

Braised peanuts

…served in restaurants and sold in cans in the shops and supermarkets.

Once done…

Groundnuts, cooked

…drain away all the water as leaving it soaked in the water may turn them kind of black and other than that, it may affect the taste somewhat and it will not be so nice.

I sure was glad I bought them that day especially when I saw my girl enjoying feasting on them…

Nice boiled groundnuts

…when she came home from school and needless to say, when the girl is happy, the daddy will be happy too!

Corn…

In my childhood days, my mum would clear the land at the far end of the compound where our old wooden house was to plant corn. She would soak the kernels in water till they had sprouted roots and make holes in the ground into which I would put in two or three of the seeds. The variety of the corn then was not very nice – the young ones were all right but the older ones were not that tasty and quite a chore to chew.

These days, we have the sweet corn or what people call the Ligo variety…

Fresh corn

…but the prices have been soaring lately and they do not come cheap anymore, 4 for RM6.00, RM1.50 each.

When I shared a photograph of the corn on Facebook, a friend commented that he would buy them regularly but at times, they were sweet and at other times, not so. I replied telling him to look at the stems where they had cut the ears of corn…

Freshly cut

If it is white and fresh, then the corn would be fine. It it has turned brown and dry, then one should not buy it as chances are it will not be sweet and nice anymore, rather bland, in fact. The ones that I bought that day looked like they had been harvested the day before, not 100% fresh but they were still all right.

For this reason, I often wonder about those that they sell already peeled – have they done that so buyers would not be able to check as to whether the corn is fresh or not? It’s the same thing with those sold in pairs wrapped in plastic or cling film at the supermarket. How old exactly are those? Will they be as sweet as the freshly-harvested ones still?

Cooking is very easy – you just peel the ears of corn till you reach the final layer…

Peeled

Some say it will taste nicer if you leave that intact when you cook it compared to removing it all completely.

Just boil the peeled corn in water with a little bit of salt added…

Ready to boil

…and you will be able to enjoy eating them…

Corn on the cob

…in no time at all. It is so very easy.

Of course, there are other ways to do it – steam them or grill them on a hot plate, barbecue them and serve with butter (though usually, they will just use margarine and I am not fond of the taste and smell) or cook in soup like the ABC soup, for instance.