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.

Come visit me…

Hari Raya Aidilfitri came and went and of course, there was that traditional practice of holding open houses to welcome family members and friends to share the joy.

We did not go “visiting”, that’s the usual word used to refer to the practice of dropping by houses of relatives and friends on such auspicious occasions, till mid-afternoon at around 3.00 p.m.

We went to my girl’s good friend’s house first and we stayed for quite a long while, chit-chatting and enjoying the cakes and the biscuits. We were also served the fragrant nasi

Nasi

…cooked using the long-grained basmati rice and it went so well with the very nice curry…

Curry

…and the acar (pickles)…

Acar

…and there was this kelupis

Kelupis

…too – I sure enjoyed that with the daging masak hitam (beef)…

Masak hitam

After that, we adjourned to my girl’s colleagues house and as soon as we got there, a storm blew up and it poured cats and dogs so we just stayed there till the rain eased a little.

In the meantime, we sat and enjoyed the biscuits and the cakes and also the food served…and chatted away happily. It was getting late by the time we could make a move so we decided to call it a day and did not go to any more houses in the end.

Triangles…

The Duanwu Festival or the Dragon Boat Festival, commonly called the (Bak) Chang Festival, falls on Friday, the 7th of June this year which is today. The Chinese eat zongzi or chang on this special day because they are considered a symbol of luck, as the pronunciation of zong is very similar to the pronunciation of zhong (中). This character has a positive connotation, used in words such as 中奖 (winning a prize).

Every year, without fail, my dear friend, Richard, would give me his exclusive home-made nyonya chang

Nyonya chang from Richard

…I guess if you are a regular follower of my blog, you would know that there is no way we can buy these here.

We can go out and buy the not-so-nice (the ones here, that is) Hokkien chang or the pillow-shaped Cantonese chang but one just can’t expect too much from those commercially made ones plus they do not come cheap. Often, I would buy some home and end up rather disappointed and I get really put off to see them tying the dumplings with nylon string and boiling it in the water for so long until the rice is cooked.

Richard, on the other hand, does not scrimp on the ingredients like that so you can see a lot of meat in his changs…

Filling

…and if you are observant enough, you will notice that he does not use pre-minced meat from the butcher or the shop – he will painstakingly cut the meat into tiny little cubes for the filling, the way it should be. More often than not, when eating the ones outside, you may be hard pressed to find some meat inside. These days, you may find a teeny-weeny piece, mostly fat or traces of minced meat, barely visible to the naked eye.

Rest assured that if it is Richard’s chang, you can bet that it is as perfect as it looks – see how symmetrical it is on the outside…

Richard's chang outside

…and also on the inside…

Richard's chang inside

Thank you so much, Richard, for remembering me again this year. Truly, yours are second to none…and a Happy Duanwu Festival to you and all your loved ones. Hopefully, we will all 中奖 after feasting on your lovely changs and here’s wishing everyone the same as well.

Extra…

This…

Mee Daddy 3-in-1 X-tra

…was my late father’s favourite when he was still around. On some days, he would get the helper to cook him a bowl for breakfast and on some nights, he might cook it for his supper himself. I do like it a lot too but I am not very particular about which brand I eat and usually, I will just go for the cheaper ones.

For one thing, it is more expensive than most, if not all, of the rest, over RM4.00 for a pack of five while there are many others going for around RM3 something and I do know of some Indonesian ones selling for around RM2.80…and at times, there may be 6 in a pack even.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – when there is no necessity for them to pay for transport and shipment, I cannot understand why, when it is made right here in Sibu…

Made in Sibu

…it cannot be a little cheaper. Is it because flour costs more here since we have to import that from elsewhere?

Anyway, I spotted the word x-tra on the packaging the other day and I was wondering what that was all about so I grabbed a pack and took it home. There is nothing on the packet to explain what that extra-something is and my guess is that there is more noodles in this one than in the regular packet. I do know for a fact that some people would need two packets – one will not be enough.

Of course, these days, when I cook instant noodles, I will boil the noodles first and then drain away the water and after that, I will rinse it well. In the meantime, I will boil some more water, empty the sachet(s) of seasoning and whatever into it and add the noodles before serving. I’ve read articles online about how they coat the noodles with wax or whatever and cooking it this way will remove it and render it less harmful to health.

Of course, there are a lot of other reasons why we should not consume instant noodles too often but looking at the shelves and shelves of these at the supermarkets, it sure looks like people simply do not give a damn. These days, the Korean ones, though a whole lot more expensive, are very popular.

Anyway, back to how I cook instant noodles, usually I would just use half of the seasoning which I am sure contains a lot of salt and msg and throw away the rest. However, with this brand, I would use all of it…

Contents

…as I find that it is not as salty as the rest and I do not feel the msg overload all that much. There is also a sachet of onion oil (Oooppsss!!! I got it upside down in the photograph!) or shallot oil as I usually call it and of course, I would add all of it for the fragrance and the flavour and when I cook it the other morning, I also sprinkled a bit of chopped spring onion from my garden on top…

Mee Daddy, cooked & served

…before serving.

I had it with a lightly-grilled sausage and egg and some sawi manis so I would say that was quite  a balanced meal. don’t you think? There are carbohydrates, protein and vegetables – not all carbohydrates like when people just eat it on its own.

Whatever it is, it is best not to consume this way too often and in my case, I will just stock up some in the pantry for days when there is  nothing else to eat in the house.

Look no further…

I did mention the other day in my post that the lady at the grocery store told me that this…

SUNSTAR clams in soya sauce
*Archive photo*

…would be the same as the made-in-China clams in soy sauce that for reasons unknown have disappeared from the shelves here – word has it that they have ceased production. She said that it would be exactly the same, also with those very tiny bits of clam inside…

Inside

…and incidentally, it says in Malay on the label, “Kepah dalam kicap” so don’t go looking for kerang or cockles as I did try one brand and even though it tasted all right, no, it was not the same, not at all. I sure was delighted when I opened the can and saw that it did look the same and the fragrance was the same too. Of course, the test of the pudding was in the eating so I had to cook it first before I could confirm anything.

These were the ingredients I used…

Ingredients

…some shallots, peeled and sliced, a few cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped and a whole lot of spring onions flourishing in my garden. They usually add cangkok manis, shredded/torn, and I had a bit from the plants in my garden which do not seem to be growing too well but just the other day, my missus harvested all the leaves to cook sayur rebus with some baby corn that she bought. I spotted some leftover long beans fried with egg in the fridge so I just took that and threw it in instead.

I soaked the bihun in hot water first to soften and after draining it well, I added everything from inside the can and mixed thoroughly. As what I would usually do, I fried the shallots and garlic in some oil till golden brown before adding the long beans. Next, I drained away any excess water/sauce in the bihun and added it to what was already in the wok and after stir-frying for some time, I added the spring onions…and lastly, an egg plus a bit of salt and msg according to taste…

Done

That sure was a lot of bihun, enough for breakfast, lunch and dinner…

Fried bihun with canned clams in soya sauce

…and I was very happy that it tasted exactly like how it should taste like and my missus shared the exact same sentiments. Of course, you are entitled to how you may feel about it and if you go and buy a can to try and you think differently, don’t blame me!  As far as I am concerned, I certainly will not be going round looking for the made-in-China ones no more and I think I will go back to the shop one of these days to stock up on the clams, this brand, in case they get sold out and will no longer be available.

KEDAI RUNCIT HEW KEE HONG (2.307562, 111.824969) is the grocery store, the first one in the blocks of shops on your right as you turn into Lorong Delta 10 from Jalan Delta.