It’s Friday…

Ever since I bought the beautiful ikan terubok (chee khak/toli shad) that day, I had been looking forward to Friday, our no-meat day when we would cook that to enjoy.

It looked so fresh and fleshy too and I was quite sure it was going to be good but the boy told me there was no roe (egg) in it. It did not matter though as we are not really into those but somehow, I have the feeling that if there are eggs in the fish, it is more lemak (fat/rich).

My missus trimmed the tail and the fins…

…to get it ready to be panggang-ed (grilled/baked) in our Tatung pot. We decided not to line the foil with daun kunyit (turmeric leaves) this time around so we just rubbed it with a bit of salt and wrapped it up before putting it in the pot.

A Kelabit teacher-friend of mine saw my photograph on Facebook and commented that he never gutted the fish that he would cook over an open fire to eat. Yes, that is one thing my late mum taught us – to never clean the fish as it would not be so sweet and nice if we did that. She loved to eat the black stuff inside, something a bit bitter but I think that is an acquired taste. I tried it before and no, I did not think I would want to eat it again so everytime we cooked the fish, we would just throw it away.

It sure looked so good when it was done…

Just look at all the juices that had seeped out of the fish, an indication as to how lemak (fat/rich) it was. I love drowning my rice with the juices and eating them together! Omega 3 plus plus!!! Absolutely yummy!!!

To eat the fish, the scales had to be painstakingly removed…

…completely so we would not have deal with them all over the fish, here there and everywhere as that chore might affect our enjoyment to some extent.

A lot of people commented that they would not buy the fish because there are a lot of bones. Bones? What bones?

Of course, there are some BIG ones that are easily removed, not as many and not so hard to spot and get rid of as in the upriver empurau (wang poo liao) and its “cousins”. Those fish may be very sweet, so very smooth, so very fine…but the task of picking out the bones and getting rid of them is so time-consuming and it takes away much of the enjoyment of eating those super expensive fish! Another thing is if the fish have been caught and kept frozen for a long time, they will sell them to you at those ridiculous prices but sadly, they are no longer as sweet, not really nice anymore.

Anyway, back to the ikan terubok, I don’t know if those were from a different source – some say there are those from Bangladesh (cheap and used mainly to make those salted ikan terubok) but there used to be another variety where the top half of the fish was full of tiny bones like those in the ikan lumek. We would eat and leave that top part behind. Much to my delight, those that we get these days do not have those tiny bones so we can enjoy it from one end to the other.

Of course, at RM60.00 a kilo, RM48.00 for the one that I bought that day, I would not be buying it all that often. Once in a while will be fine especially with the rising prices of everything these days – one would need to be a bit prudent in one’s spending now, don’t you think?

That day, we had these long beans fried with sambal hay bee (dried prawns)…

…for our vegetable dish and this Chinese-style (oyster) mushroom and egg drop soup…

– my girl loved it! She said it was like sharks’ fins soup.

Cups…

I used to fly between Sibu (SBW) and Kuala Lumpur (KUL) very frequently when I was still working as I was involved in a lot of things with the ministry and the other sections like exams, for instance.

Going was never a problem as the flight, I remember, was at 11.50 a.m. – ample time to do a lot of things before leaving for the airport to catch my flight. Coming home was a problem though because the one and only flight in a day was at 7.50 a.m. so I had to be at KLIA by 6.50 a.m. (one hour before the flight) which meant that I had to leave the hotel very early as KLIA isn’t exactly a stone’s throw away from KL city. There was a 50% surcharge if we took a taxi between 12 midnight and 6.00 a.m. so of course, I had to pay extra every time.

Another problem was breakfast since it would be way too early to go for the hotel’s complimentary (buffet) breakfast! At times, I would wait till I got to KLIA before going for the miserable breakfast options at McD or KFC, miserable but affordable unlike at the other eateries, for instance, the RM23.80 nasi lemak at the Asian Cafe! Sometimes, I would buy some drinks and Gardenia buns from 7-11 and at other times, I would buy some cup noodles to cook and eat before vacating the hotel room.

Cup noodles? Gosh!!! That was so long ago that I cannot even remember what brand I used to buy and what flavours I liked. Anyway, the other day, I had these made-in-Korea ones…

My missus went and bought some…

…and she said they were nice so of course, I wanted to give them a try!

Inside the cup, there were the noodles…

…with some dried ingredients and a sachet of seasoning…

I emptied the sachet into the cup with the noodles…

…and poured in some boiling water a little past the line indicated inside the cup. My missus said I should add a bit more as it was a little salty.

I waited for 4 minutes, as instructed…

…before tossing the noodles and loosening the strands and leaving it to stand a while longer.

So, what did it taste like? Was it nice? My missus said it was over RM4.00 each!!! For that kind of money, I would much sooner run to the nearby shop and grab a packet of kampua mee for RM3.50. I certainly would enjoy it a lot more and I would still have some change leftover.

I can’t remember what lobsters taste like – in fact, I can’t remember if I have ever eaten a lobster before and anyway, this tasted like…instant noodles, that usual umami (msg) taste, nothing more and nothing less. I don’t know if I imagined it or what but I thought I could detect a bit of udang kering (dried prawn) taste, just a bit, so slight that it could have easily gone unnoticed.

I must say, however, that I liked the texture and taste of the noodles. They were firm and QQ and did not have any taste – most of our local brands have their own taste and some come across like plain biscuits, not quite like noodles.

I cooked two half-boiled/cooked Omega-3 eggs to go with the noodles…

…and yes, I did enjoy them.

I must say that at the end of the day, I would much sooner go for our Malaysian own Maggi kari – for RM4 something, I can buy a pack of 5 and enjoy myself a whole lot more.

We’re in charge…

The other day, after enjoying my fish soup kway teow here, I decided to walk over to my favourite fish & seafood stall at the end of that block of shops to say hello to the very nice Mdm. Lau there. I did not drop by for quite sometime as I had not been so mobile lately.

Unfortunately, she was not around! She had left her young boy helpers in charge and according to them, she was at home making up for lost time because her daughter had come home from Singapore and they had not seen each other for over two years, all throughout the horrible pandemic.

I bought some of those little fishes, quite a lot of bak chik and there were two kembong left and I took those for RM12.00 altogether and I decided to buy one whole ikan senangin, not a very big one for RM20.00. I could not remember what fish the latter was until I checked my post here – it turned out to be the very nice ngor hu or the threadfin.

One of the boys asked if I would like to steam or deep fry it and since I was not too sure, he just cut it up into slices for deep frying. He said he could do it differently depending on what I would want to do with it, like what he did to the ikan siakap (barramundi)…

…that I bought from him once.

Oh? So he was the one! Mdm. Lau has a few helpers, young Malay or Melanau boys, all very nice and friendly, very trustworthy and able to work independently so I do not really remember all of them. I asked him if there was any siakap that morning but he said that they did, just a few but he would not sell them to me as they were two days old, not freshly delivered from Batang Ai that day. Now, isn’t that nice? I am pretty sure others will just sell it to me quietly and run laughing all the way to the bank!

It was then that I saw the ikan terubok (chee khak/toli shad)…

It was so fat and looked so fresh and nice plus it had been a while since we last ate one.

However, one of the boys kept repeating the price, “RM60.00 a kilo! RM60.00 a kilo!” Obviously, he was trying to discourage me from buying, not because it was not good – he did admit it was very nice but because it was so expensive.

I had just bumped into my girl’s coursemate on Facebook – they were together in Sg Petani, Kedah and in Wellington, New Zealand and they had just moved her to Daro in the Rejang Delta. I gathered from Mdm. Lau that she gets their ikan terubok from there but my girl’s coursemate said they were not in season at this point in time, very difficult to come by. I sure was lucky and of course, I insisted on buying one for RM48.00 (less than 1 kg) and taking it home happily!

It is not difficult to get hold of the salted ones…

…and the salted roe (eggs)…

…here. Folks from West Malaysia would buy these by the boxes to take home everytime they fly over to Kuching to spend their holidays.

I do enjoy eating those too but to me, nothing beats eating the fresh ones, rubbed with a bit of salt and wrapped in aluminum foil and baked…

…in our Tatung pot…

We tried baking it in the oven but it was not as nice.

These days, we would line the foil with daun kunyit (turmeric leaves) for the added fragrance…

It is simply out of this world, so very sweet, so very fragrant, so so delicious – a whole lot nicer than cooking the fish any other way!

The fish & seafood stall…

…is located to the right of CCL FRESH MINI MARKET against the wall at that 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.

I got no time…

I used to do it very frequently in the early morning, everytime we had leftover rice in the house. No, I did not do it like Uncle Roger’s egg fried rice. Instead, I would just fry it my own way, usually in my simple kampung-style

…and blog about it.

My problem these days is I do not have the time anymore as we have to leave the house at the break of dawn so my girl can get to school by around 6.00 a.m. Lessons do not begin till around 7 but there are lots of duties and responsibilities to take care of especially when it comes to small primary school kids. That, of course, means that there is hardly any time for me to cook breakfast. Instead, we would have to buy some things earlier…or on the way back to the house.

Well, the other morning, my missus fried this plate of fried rice, kampung-style…

…and yes, I think I did say it before that she does it a whole lotta better than me!

She uses more or less the same ingredients – ikan bilis (dried anchovies), egg, chopped spring onion, shallots and garlic, peeled and sliced…

…but instead of using mushroom soy like me, she uses kikkoman soy sauce and dunno what else – I noticed that everytime she was frying rice, she would open the refrigerator door again and again so perhaps she always added some other things as well but I never asked what.

Yes, I do add a bit of msg – Uncle Roger would certainly approve but no, she will never touch the stuff. As far as I know, they will add a lot to their fried rice outside and with their giant wok and all that banging and the advantage of having a huge fire, theirs will turn out very nice too, if not nicer. At best, I would just say that mine is…edible, not as nice as what my missus dishes out…

Anyway, I do miss cooking something nice for breakfast, be it fried rice, some noodles (haven’t had my Bovril mee

…for so so long now) or sandwiches loaded with a whole lot of good stuff such as ham, bacon and egg. for instance…

There is just so much that one can take of the things outside – you end up buying the same old things and in the end, you get put off by the mere sight of them. Sighhh!!!

A whole lot better…

I was looking for a nice brand of instant noodles, the curry flavour, once and in the end, I settled for this made-in-Sibu brand. It used to be cheaper, only RM3.20 for a pack of 5 – the chicken flavour is a lot more expensive all this while. In the process, I tried a lot of brands and some were really awful, to say the least, but there were some really special ones, usually a lot more expensive, that were nice too.

I never bothered about the one from Maggi (left)…

…though. This was the first ever instant noodles in the country – everyone was head over heels in love with the noodles. I bet we all remember their caption/tagline “Fast to cook, good to eat!” (Cepat dimasak, sedap dimakan!)…

Eventually, other brands started to appear on the shelves and it was overshadowed. Not only did we feel that it did not taste as nice but we also felt dissatisfied with the texture (and the price) of the noodles. That was why I stopped buying for a long long time.

It was not until I started watching the Kumaar Family Youtube videos featuring these instant noodles that I decided to give them a second chance. That was when I went out and bought a pack (RM4.80 for a pack of 5 now) to try and yes, it…

…was very nice! I cooked a bowl the other day and as you can see, I did not add a lot of ingredients other than the few cherry tomatoes from my garden (and two eggs) so as to retain its original flavour.

To compare between the two brands, I also bought a pack of our made-in-Sibu, Mee Daddy, curry flavour. Sometimes we cannot tell the difference because of the time lapse when we eat the two separately. Gosh!!! It has gone up in price – a pack is now selling for RM4.50, a little cheaper than Maggi and more expensive than many of the rest.

I cooked a packet, also with a few cherry tomatoes and two eggs…

…and yes, I would declare, without a doubt, that I prefer the one from Maggi – I do think it is a whole lot better.

The taste is a bit stronger…and nicer but spicier (and this is not the pedas giler version) so if you are not into anything even a little bit spicy, then you’d be better off giving it a skip. I also prefer the taste and texture of the noodles – I think I did mention in an early blogpost that they have improved on it since that time long ago.

I have mentioned it again and again that I simply cannot understand why, even though it is made in Sibu, its chicken flavour is so expensive, a lot more so than many of the other brands and now, even the curry flavour costs more. Yes, I went and checked and indeed, they have increased the price of the chicken ones as well to a whooping RM5 something for a pack of 5!!!

Anyway, considering how the prices for both Maggi and Mee Daddy, curry flavour, are more or less the same and one is a lot nicer than the other, there’s no question as to which brand I will buy once both these packs run out.

One, not two…

I dropped by here that morning as I was thinking of tapao-ing the or chian (oyster omelette) home for our lunch or dinner. It has been a long time since we last had any but unfortunately, when I got there, I was told that they were out of oysters so what I wanted was not available.

Actually, I had not been there for quite some time and I had not tried a lot of things on their menu, not that they had an elaborate one with plenty of choices. The Penang kway teow th’ng I had the first time I was there was very good and somehow, I am not into curry mee in the morning.

In the end, I ordered their Penang char kway teow/fried flat rice noodles (RM7.90)…

…which turned out to be very good except that there were no cockles (see ham/kerang) in it. There were a few slices of lap cheong (Chinese sausages)and a number of those tiny shrimps…

…egg and taugeh (bean sprouts).

I could tell from the wok hei fragrance when it was served that it would be good and yes, I was right. I just tried a bit though and asked for the rest to be tapao-ed so I could take it home for the ladies to try.

I suppose you may be wondering why I did that when I could have eaten it all by myself and ordered one or two plates to take home for the ladies. Well, it was because I also ordered their nasi lemak (RM7.90)…

…to try. Ooooo…I so love that blue & white ceramic plate! I have one at home and I wished I had five more to make a set of 6.

They certainly were very generous with the fried chicken…

…which turned out to be very nice and I loved the fried egg with the yolk still runny. Unfortunately, the rice was not really lemak and a little salty. The taste was not quite like how the usual nasi lemak should be and sadly, it was the same too with the sambal. In the end, I just ate the chicken and the egg and left everything else behind.

When I got home, it turned out that my missus was cooking beef stew…

…using the imported premium New Zealand grass-fed beef. It turned to be so very nice and it sure made up for the fact that I did not manage to buy the or chain that morning – perhaps I can go back there again another day.

HOME COFFEE SHOP (2.306064, 111.847597) is located along Lorong Pahlawan 7A4, among the shops where the UOB and OCBC Banks are, in the block of shops before Sianggelila Xiqing Restaurant facing that private road/shortcut leading to Good Happiness Restaurant/SMK Deshon.

Side o’ the road…

We’re more or less halfway through the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan but no, I have not been to any of the Ramadan bazaars around town.

I was actually looking forward to those as we had not had it for two years now owing to the pandemic but I saw the Youtube video of the one in town and I was horrified to see the crowd and a friend told me that it was worse at my favourite one here. That was why I did not venture to either one or any of the others as well.

The other day, however, I decided to go and see if there was anything worth buying at the government-sponsored GPS stall by the side of the road right outside the lady’s house. It is along Jalan Ria, round the corner from my sister’s house and I did stop by a few times before a long time ago to buy her very nice sambal petai (stinky beans)…

Yes, the stall was open and much to my girl’s delight, she had bubur pedas

…a specialty that we would only get around Ramadan here. My girl enjoyed it a lot even though I felt it was kind of lacking in terms of the ingredients added and also the rempah (spices) used. We can get some a whole lot nicer at my favourite Ramadan bazaar like the one at this place here, for instance…

Ah well! I guess beggars can’t be choosers so that will just have to do for the time being!

I would say the kuih jala

…was very nice though and she was very generous with the meat and potatoes in the curry gravy provided. I used to buy this at my favourite Malay kuih place here and they used to give a tiny piece of chicken and potato and then, just the potato and lately, they will only give you the curry gravy, nothing else inside.

Last but not least, we bought this tub of mutton curry (RM15.00)…

…and we had that with rice for dinner. We sure enjoyed it a lot!

The three items came up to RM26.00 altogether – my missus did not ask how much each of them cost. I guess one of these days, we shall go back there again to buy the lady’s sambal petai (she did not have it that day) or we may venture into one of the bazaars before the end of the fasting month.

Second best…

I have not been eating instant noodles for a while now for the simple reason that I am cutting down on the hidden sugars – after all, unless you add your own ingredients, it is all carbohydrates, salt, msg and whatever they have in the seasoning…and preservatives too, I suppose.

Besides, my missus have not stocked up on anything that is new so what we have in the house are those that I have reviewed before or those spicy Korean ones that do not tickle my fancy.

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

…so I decided to give it a try.

I have tried a few flavours from this brand

…before and there were some that I felt were not too bad but this one is probably new – I do not recall ever trying it before but yes, we had the ones from this made-in-Thailand brand and we loved it!!!

There are only four packets inside and inside each packet, there are the noodles and three sachets…

– the seasoning, the garnishing (dried ingredients) and the (tom yam) paste.

I cooked the noodles and served it with some sliced omelette and fish cake, cherry tomatoes and daun sup (Chinese celery) from our garden…

…and sat down to give it a try.

It was milder than the aforementioned one that we had before from Thailand, not that sour, not that fragrant and not that creamy and despite all those bits of cili padi among the dried ingredients, I did not feel that it was all that spicy.

All in all, I would say it was all right and especially when it is not too expensive, just RM1.45 a packet, this would be a good enough choice to keep in the house for emergencies when one feels hungry and there is not much else around to eat.

Looking east…

If you are as old as I am, you probably would remember the once-upon-a-time Look East Policy.

I was somewhat baffled at the time as we were supposed to look towards Japan and emulate the ways of the Japanese so that our country would be just as progressive and advanced. The trouble was Japan was somewhere towards the north and if we were to look east, we would be looking in the wrong direction.

Anyway, I am not here to discuss politics or any of those stuff – it so happened that we had some culinary delights from the countries up north, Japan and Korea, for dinner that day because we tried the instant Kuching laksa for lunch and did not cook anything for dinner.

Since we were still feeling quite full, come dinnertime, my girl said she would make some Japanese sushi for something light and she came out with these…

I loved the ones with prawn and avocado…

….because I am not really into canned tuna…

…but my girl is o.k. with it so she liked them both.

My missus likes it hot so she added the fiery chili garlic sambal…

…that we got from my friend, Mandy, the other day and she had those spicy darker shade ones all to herself.

My girl also made a few of these…

tteokkochi or grilled Korean rice cake skewers because she had some of the tteokbokki left over from that day.

She added some gourmet cocktail sausages to the skewers and bask them with bulgogi BBQ sauce and honey and grilled them well…

…on a grill pan. It turned out really well and we sure enjoyed it very much.

That sure was a welcome change from our usual rice plus dishes meal for dinner.

Pretty good…

This sure looks pretty good for a bowl of instant Sarawak/Kuching laksa

…you reckon? I dare say that it can put a lot of those at the shops to shame.

Well, it all started when my sister saw them selling this…

…at a supermarket near her house. She did not bother to buy, of course, the reason, I guess, is quite obvious. RM29.90 for six packets like this…

…in the box in no chicken feed.

In the meantime, she went and watched their promotional Youtube videos featuring their product here and also here and she hopped over to those online shopping websites and were horrified by the prices that they are selling them there.

Nonetheless, she could not resist the temptation to give it a try so she relented and went back to the supermarket and bought a box…

…and she gave us three packets out of the six.

The fact that there are no preservatives, no artificial colouring and no msg added and only natural herbs are used sure sounds promising and on top of all that, they are using sago vermicelli that is supposed to be superior to the regular rice versions…

…and if you get those from China, you may be put off by the cockroach smell in the noodles.

My missus went and pounded this sambal belacan (dried prawn paste)…

…to go with the laksa but no, she used the Mukah belacan that I bought not too long ago. Many will say it is not as nice as the ones from Bintulu but seeing how those are now selling at RM80.00 a kilo, I guess it is best that we settle for what is 2nd best. The lady at the wet market insisted that the Mukah ones are good enough and considering we are ordinary people, not some multi-millionaire, there is really no need to go and spend a fortune on such things.

My missus followed the instructions to get the bihun ready and was shocked to find that out of one little packet, she ended up with a whole lot of the noodles. We still have the big seawater prawns…

…that I bought sometime ago in February so she took a few to boil to get the stock for cooking the laksa broth, using the sambal and the santan (coconut milk) that came in the packet. She found it to be somewhat too salty (following the measurement specified in the instructions) so she added some more water and extra santan according to taste.

Adding the bihun to it, she topped it all with the prawns and also some sliced omelette and blanched taugeh (bean sprouts)…

…followed by a sprinkling of chopped daun sup (Chinese celery) from our garden and served it with calamansi lime by the side. This was on our no-meat Friday and anyway, when we cook our own at h0me, never mind what day it is, we usually dispense with the strips of shredded chicken, usually found in Sarawak/Kuching laksa.

Yes, all of us agreed that it was VERY VERY good, almost as good as the one we had recently and fell head over heels in love with it! But the thing is this one works out to RM5.00 a packet for a bowl of nothing else other than the bihun and the broth whereas the other one is RM6.00, inclusive of all the added ingredients plus we do not need to do all the preparation and cooking ourselves.

I suppose this would be good for people living overseas where a bowl of our Sarawak delight will cost an arm or a leg – my brother said it was selling for NZD$15.00 a bowl in Auckland, New Zealand and I am sure it is not much cheaper in places in Australia.