Better than I thought it’d be…

I bought these packs of instant noodles…

Ibumie mi goreng sambal udang

…at a supermarket the other day for the simple reason that it was selling at RM3.90 for a pack of 5 packets and the cheapest available (a different brand) was RM2.90 but I saw that one would get a spoon with this one. I did not think much of it; I thought it would be one of those cheap spoons that would bend when you try to use it to eat some meat that is a little too tough but I felt RM1.00 extra for that is quite all right.

I took two packs, thinking that I would have a pair, and went to pay for them at the cashier’s counter and asked for the free gifts…only to be told that they were inside. Gee!!! I really must learn to read everything more carefully.

When I got home, I saw on the pack that one would get either a spoon or a fork and by some stroke of good luck, I got a pair…

Free gift fork and spoon

…and they were really very nice. I liked the design with the gold pattern on them. I must say that RM1.00 for each of them is very cheap!

I was in for another pleasant surprise when I cooked the noodles…

Mi goreng sambal udang, cooked 1

…and had it with a fried egg, sunny side up, and some leftover roast chicken, garnished with some finely chopped Chinese celery/parsley (daun sup) from my garden. They were very nice with a hint of the udang kering/hay bee (dried prawns) in the ingredients provided inside each packet.

I wouldn’t mind buying more…

Mi goreng sambal udang, cooked 2

…should I feel the urge to stock up again but I guess I would just have to be happy with a set of the lovely fork and spoon. I sure would not go and buy 10 more packs so that I would have a nice set of 6. It would probably take forever for me to finish 50 packs of the instant noodles, never mind how nice they are.

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She’s got it…

The 17th of September is my girl’s birthday and that was last Sunday so of course, the mum cooked the chicken soup with the traditional Foochow red wine and we had that with hung ngang (the big bihun) instead of mee sua as the latter is not gluten free.

There was a lot of the noodles left over and I fried it for breakfast the other morning, with Thai fish sauce…

Gluten-free fried hung ngang

…instead of soy sauce which contains wheat and is not gluten free as well.

We could not order any cake from outside for her special day – they are all made from wheat and are not gluten-free and she did try making her own a few times before but it had not been very successful.

However, this time around, she managed to pass with flying colours – her Japanese baked cheese cake came out really well and she and her mum did the decoration with whipped cream and fresh strawberries…

Mel's own-made birthday cake

…so she did have a birthday cake…

Happy birthday

…to cut and enjoy after all.

Finally, she has succeeded in making a cake with the soft cake texture…

Melissa's Japanese baked cheese cake with icing & strawberries

…unlike some of her failed attempts before, and it tasted very nice too. The light brown colour was because she decided to use brown sugar instead of the regular sugar.

Incidentally, last weekend, she also used this cheese sauce…

Cheese sauce from Australia

…that my cousin brought all the way from Melbourne, Australia to give to me to cook some broccoli…

Broccoli cheese

…that I had in the fridge. There wasn’t all that much left so the mum asked her to add some sweet baby corn as well to come out with this lovely broccoli casserole…

Broccoli casserole

Yes, it was very nice and we all enjoyed it but being a carnivore, I thought it would be nicer to add some bacon or ham to it. That, I’m sure would bring the taste to a whole new level.

Well, her birthday was on a Sunday so we could not go out for a celebration of any kind. After enjoying the noodles and the cake that morning, we had to be on our way already, sending her back to her school in the jungle.

Take my time…

I cooked some fish curry not too long ago and my girl loved it! I did mention in my post at the time that I only used half of the packet of instant curry paste and half of the can of coconut cream so the other day, I took them out of the freezer to cook some more…

My fish curry, bawal hitam

…but this time with ikan bawal hitam (black pomfret). However, I did not have most of the ingredients that I added before, just some brinjal and tofu puffs.  Nonetheless, it was good and once again, my girl enjoyed it very much.

I can’t remember exactly now but it was definitely several months ago when I bought this pack of beef satay…

CCK beef satay

…20 sticks altogether…

20 sticks

…from a supermarket here. It was so long ago that I cannot even remember the price but I guess it was not expensive, otherwise I would not have bought it.

It is a product of our local Sibu company that imports and sells all those frozen stuff here, there and everywhere – I even saw their shop…

CCK in Seremban
*Archive photo*

…in the peninsula in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan.

My girl asked me a couple of times why I had not cooked them yet, knowing how I can’t seem to stand seeing things sitting idle in the freezer or fridge or in the pantry but this time was an exception to the rule. Somehow or other, I was taking my time and did not seem to feel the urge to get down to it.

The sticks of satay were all pre-marinated so I did not have to go through the chore of doing that but they were frozen…

Frozen

…and I had to take them out earlier to let them defrost slowly.

No, I did not grill them over hot burning charcoal in a barbecue pit – I just used a pan…

Grill in a pan

…basking them with cooking oil using some of the stalks of serai (lemon grass) from my garden, ends bruised well, and turning them over time and again, like how I would often see them doing it at the stalls.

I made sure that some parts were well-grilled…

Well-grilled

…and slightly burnt on the outside, still o.k. on the inside. That would give the satay the added fragrance and taste.

Once they were done, I served them with some canned satay peanut sauce…

Served with peanut sauce

…that I bought, Sunstar Brand. This is the brand that we use these days, not as good as the one we used to love, but it is not too bad. For reasons unknown, the company has seen it fit to stop producing the very nice satay peanut sauce even though I do see some of their other products like canned chicken curry, for instance, being sold at the supermarkets and shops.

As for the satay, for one thing, the chunks of beef were very thick and it was quite tender, not tough at all, unlike the ones sold at the shops and stalls. I have already given up buying any from them as it would be a struggle trying to eat theirs – just like leather, unlike their chicken or lamb!

On top of that, it tasted very nice and we certainly enjoyed them very much. I sure wouldn’t mind buying some more and you can be sure that the next time around, I would not be taking my sweet time in getting down to cooking them.

All day…

No, it wasn’t pre-planned or anything, not our intention at all, but it so happened that last Sunday, we had western all day.

When I got up in the morning, I decided to make some pies for breakfast. No, I can’t use shortcrust nor puff pastry as those would not be gluten-free. I just made some  mashed potatoes and used that as the cover as in cottage or shepherd pies. There wasn’t any beef in the freezer either but there was minced pork so that would have to do and I used that to cook the filling…and in no time at all, the pies were ready…

My pies

Around lunchtime, I wanted to drop by the hypermart here as I saw in the newspapers that they had some beef on sale over the weekend and we decided we would go here…

CafeCafe@Giant

…for lunch as it would be very convenient for us to do that. This place is located inside that same mall.

My girl had her favourite here, the grilled Norwegian salmon with lemon butter sauce (RM30.90)…

CafeCafe@Giant grilled Norwegian salmon with lemon butter sauce

…while the mum tried their grilled chicken with mushroom sauce (RM19.90)…

CafeCafe@Giant grilled chicken with mashroom sauce

I thought the fish looked thinner than before and somewhat overdone but my girl said it was all right and enjoyed it very much. She had the grilled chicken before but she said it was a bigger slab and it was not well done inside and she did not enjoy it then – the one the mum had that day was good though and my guess is she would want to order that the next time we come here as no batter, hence no wheat flour, was used in the cooking.

I had their crispy chicken chop (RM19.90)…

\CafeCafe@Giant crispy chicken chop

…with maltaise sauce…

CafeCafe@Giant maltaise sauce

…but it looked kind of hard that day like it had just been taken out of the fridge or something. I would expect it to be creamier and thankfully, it tasted fine. Well, my girl liked this before but she would not be able to enjoy it now as the chicken was coated with bread crumbs.

That night, we went round looking for some place to have dinner and ended up here…

Eco-Delite Cafe
*Archive photo*

…but unfortunately, we were directed to a table where the light was way too dim for me to take some decently nice photographs.

I had their braised lamb shank (RM39.90)…

Eco-Delite Cafe braised lamb shank

…which was at best, all right. I would always expect my lamb shank to be served on a bed of mashed potatoes but sadly, there wasn’t any. As for the taste, I think I would prefer the one at this other place which incidentally, was also cheaper, RM33.90 the last time I had it – up from RM31.90 the previous time and I wouldn’t know if they have raised the price again.

My girl had their grilled chicken chop with mushroom sauce (RM9.90)…

Eco-Delite Cafe grilled chicken chop with mushroom sauce

…which she said was all right though I did not see her getting too excited about it and the mum had their beef burger (RM15.90) but all the snapshots I took of it did not turn out good, not that the two above were all that great. I do wish they would turn up the lights at such places and maybe, turn them down later, say, after 9, for those staying on for drinks and those who would prefer a more romantic atmosphere.

Personally, I do feel that what we had for lunch had an edge over what we had for dinner especially when considering that price wise, they were more or less the same – I had to fork out over RM70 at both even though there was a 15% discount at the time at the latter for National Day.

CAFE CAFE@GIANT (2.325540, 111.853538), is located on the ground floor of the Giant Hypermert Megamall located to the left of SMK Bandar Sibu along Jalan Ling Kai Cheng while ECO-DELITE CAFE (2.330846, 111.855645) is located further  in, to your right at the roundabout ahead and at the shops on your left a short distance ahead along Jalan Ulu Sg Merah. 

At home…

No, we do not eat out all the time. In fact, we do cook our own and eat at home a lot. For one thing, I would get up early in the morning and very often, I would whip something up for breakfast.

Not too long ago, I decided to use up some spaghetti that was lying around in the house – my girl ate some of it those days when she did not know she was gluten-sensitive/intolerant so that would be sometime towards the end of last year.

I cooked it char kway teow style…

My ckt-style fried spaghetti

…with prawns and I added some minced meat and egg too. It sure looked great and tasted very good too, anytime nicer than the fried macaroni…

Sugar Bun fried macaroni
*Archive photo*

that I had at one outlet here of our Sarawak’s own fast food franchise.

That, of course, meant that we did not have any more pasta at home when Peter, the thoughtful and generous boss of Payung Café, gave my girl his very nice bolognese sauce, just my girl’s gluten-free ones and we had to go and buy some to eat with the sauce without finishing off her stock.

And talking about Payung Café, other than the very nice beef spaghetti that I had there the other day, they do have some really good fusion pasta dishes as well like this belimbing prawn spaghetti…

Payung Cafe belimbing prawns spaghetti 1
*Archive photo*

…that I have had a few times before…

Payung Cafe belimbing prawns spaghetti 2
*Archive photo*

…or this tom yam one…

Payung Cafe tom yam spaghetti
*Archive photo*

…but I would not order them when my girl is around as she can’t eat the spaghetti and we would usually have those dishes with rice instead.

On another occasion, I cooked some fried rice, kampung-style…

My kampung fried rice...

…for breakfast at home and had it with this ayam berlada

Ayam Berlada from Bandong Walk
*Archive photo*

…from my favourite roadside Malay food stall at Bandong Walk here and yes, it…

...with ayam berlada

…was good too. It sure can beat a whole lot of the fried rice one can get at the shops hands down, that’s for sure.

More recently, last Friday to be exact, I decided to cook this Sarawak/Kuching laksa

My Sarawak laksa 1

…for my girl who would be coming home that afternoon after school. She enjoys it very much and being our no-meat day, Friday, I did not have any finely-shredded boiled chicken breast meat and replaced that with finely-sliced tofu puffs…

My Sarawak laksa 2

…instead. For some reason, my girl loves those. They do have those in the laksa here in Sibu but I did hear that you will not get to see any should you go for this local delight in its place of origin, Kuching.

We only stop by the shops for something to eat, usually for lunch on the way back home from visiting my mum in the morning and keeping her company and sometimes for dinner after dropping by mid-afternoon and staying till after she has had her dinner.

That day when she was discharged from the medical centre after she was admitted there for over a week, we were running late and it was way past 1.00 p.m. when we could go and grab a bite to eat. This one near their house is open daily except on Sundays till 5.00 p.m. so it was very convenient for us to go there.

My missus had their mee mamak (RM5.00)…

Sara Cafe mee mamak

…which she said was very nice but I thought it was kind of expensive considering that I had an egg…

Sara Cafe fried kway teow, egg

…and one chicken drumstick…

Sara Cafe fried kway teow, chicken drumstick

…with my fried kway teow (RM6.50)…

Sara Cafe fried kway teow

…for just RM1.50 more but I did see some prawns in the mee so I guess that would explain everything.

I’m pretty sure this is the same with everybody else – sometimes, we do eat out for convenience’s sake or for some reason or other while at other times, we just eat at home.

PAYUNG  CAFE (2.284049, 111.833014) is located at No.20F, Lanang Road, Sibu, Malaysia, back to back with the multi-storey car park of the Kingwood Hotel which faces the majestic Rejang River while SARA CAFE (2.307544, 111.820744) is located among the shops at Simpang Tiga, Sibu, one of the two facing Jalan Bunga Normah 4.

One of the three…

I don’t recall ever using this one…

A1 Mountain Globe instant curry paste, seafood

…out of the three in their somewhat limited range of instant curry pastes, just the one for meat and the one for rendang. My missus did use it a number of times before though – for her fish head curry. She would buy the head of the ang chor (red snapper) for this and yes, it was very nice and could easily give the ones at the restaurants here, there and everywhere a run for the money.

I did not feel like having the head that day and there was this ikan tenggiri (bay kar/mackerel)…

Ikan tenggiri

…in the freezer, not a very big one but that was enough for the two of us for lunch and in the evening for dinner when my girl came home for the weekend.

As always, everytime we use the instant paste, these would the added ingredients…

Added ingredients

– one Bombay onion, peeled and finely chopped, a few stalk of serai (lemon grass) and a few sprigs of curry leaves.

I went and bought these…

Toppings

…that one would usually find in a dish of fish head curry at a restaurant – some ladies’ fingers, brinjal, pineapples, bean curd sticks and tofu puffs. I think they do add long beans at some places too but I did not feel like having any that day.

I fried the chopped onion in a bit of oil…

Chopped onion

…before adding the serai and the leaves from one sprig of the curry leaves…

Serai and curry leaves

…and the instant paste…

curry paste

Since it was not a very big fish, I just used half a packet and stored the rest in the freezer for use at a later date.

After adding a bit of water, I put in the head and tail of the fish and the vegetables…

water, fish head & tail and vegetables

I did not put in the rest of the fish for fear that it would disintegrate in the course of the simmering to cook the vegetables.

When I felt that the vegetables were more or less cooked, I added the pineapples, the bean curd sticks and the tofu puffs…and also the rest of the fish and curry leaves…

All the rest

…before adding santan (coconut milk), half a can of it, to the gravy.

After bringing it back to boil, it was done…

Done

…so I just dished it out and served…

My own-cooked fish curry

I guess it could do with a nicer presentation but since it was solely for our own home consumption, I did  not bother about it. What would be more important would be the taste and yes, it was good. My girl, when she had it for dinner that evening, remarked, “Very nice curry, dad!” and that sure made up for all the effort that I put into cooking it.

Everybody’s favourite…

If you drop by a grocery store or a supermarket in town, you will see all kinds of instant pastes for anything under the sun so much so that these days, to be able to cook merely means opening one of these packets and adding the meat or whatever and you’re done! See! Even Phong Hong had no problem cooking her own Sarawak laksa…or daging masak hitam! Kacang aje! LOL!!!

Of course, it would be nicer to cook from scratch but when it comes to cooking dishes like curry, there is so much to be done and it can be such a chore so of course, we were delighted to find one that was really very good – not quite as good as how mama did it but pretty close – and there has been no looking back since.

This is the A1 Mountain Globe brand…

A1 Mountain Globe Brand

…but be forewarned that so many of them has A1 on their packets too and some did end up buying the wrong brand that was not all that nice. I’ve tried others but this one remains my favourite and the favourite of everybody else who has tried it as well.

Usually, we would use evaporated milk these days as somehow or other, we all felt it had an edge over santan but it just slipped my mind that day and I ended up grabbing hold of a can of coconut milk and taking it home. Ah well! Since I had bought it, I might as well make use of it, I thought.

I fried the finely-chopped Bombay onion…

From my garden, except the onion

…in a bit of oil till soft and fragrant before throwing in the serai (lemon grass) and curry leaves from my garden, just a sprig or two to fry in the oil…and after adding the instant paste, I put in the organic chicken drumsticks that I bought and diluted it with some water before putting in the pandan leaf, also from my garden, knotted.

When it started simmering, I added the potatoes…

Potatoes

…peeled and cut into chunks and once the meat and the potatoes were cooked, I added the rest of the curry leaves and the santan and that was it. So easy! I did not add the santan earlier as with all that simmering while waiting for (the meat and) the potatoes to cook, it might keluar minyak, they call it in Malay, and one might get one kind of unpleasant smell that is not something to my liking.

Once ready, I dished everything…

Chicken curry

…out and that was it!

Now, don’t say you do not know how to cook curry and all the rest! If you can cut open a packet, you can!