Come on over…

Borneo Cultural Festival poster

Well, that’s the slogan for this year’s Borneo Cultural Festival – “Beauty in Ethnic Diversity”…and here’s the promo from www.virtualmalaysia.com.

BORNEO CULTURAL FESTIVAL 2008

Get a taste of the indigenous arts at the Borneo Cultural Festival which takes place from June 27 to July 5 at Sibu Town Square, Sarawak. This annual Sibu signature event will entrance you with a blend of dance, songs, poetry and dramas from various ethnic groups in Borneo.

Be prepared to see lively performances that incorporate aboriginal musical instruments like drums and gongs, and even sprightly martial arts moves. Apart from the cultural extravaganza, your palates will also be tempted by the local cuisine at the Borneo Food Fair. An amazing variety of traditional food from the different clans in Sibu will be there for your picking.

Last year’s performances received overwhelming response both locally and internationally, and this year you can expect an equal or even better line-up of activities and shows. Be sure to also explore the local attractions like the Lembangan night market, Sibu Civic Centre Museum, Rejang Esplanade, the beautiful Seven-Storey Pagoda which offers a panoramic view of Sibu town, and the Iban longhouse where the dwellers will welcome you with their warm hospitality.

Come June 27, make your way to the Borneo Cultural Festival 2008 to witness the celebration of traditional arts, food and dance.

I’ve browsed through some of the photographs on the internet, taken during the festival last year and these two from monkeywong.com are my favourite…

Monkeywong's photo 1/Borneo Cultural Festival

Monkeywong's photo 2/Borneo Cultural Festival

And I have another nice photo here from e-borneo.blogspot.com

Leaf Dance/Borneo Cultural Festival

On my part, I look forward to the festival every year because I will be able to enjoy the delicacies from the different dialect groups among the Chinese…and also from the ethnic communities like the Ibans and the Melanaus! You can bet your bottom ringgit that I will be making my way there to buy the ayam pansuh, the umai….. Drool! Drool! See you there!!!

All by myself…

Now! Now! What’s this that I read about stp!!! Bongkersz said something to Cibol in response to the latter’s comments that I only go out to eat and then post on the food! That’s absolutely and blatantly untrue!!! Now as everybody knows, I have posted on some of the things that I have enjoyed at some of the eating outlets outside BUT I have also posted on some of the dishes that I have cooked ALL BY MYSELF!

Last Friday, for instance, I fried the leftover cabbage that I still had in the fridge after using some of it for the sayur masak lemak that I had cooked a day or two earlier and here’s the proof…..

Fried cabbage with egg

I’m sure everyone can cook this dish! Just heat a little bit of oil in the wok, throw in some chopped garlic and when it has turned lightly brown, throw in the cabbage, cut in thin strips, add one or two beaten egg(s)…and finally, sprinkle a bit of salt and msg according to taste. And it being a Friday, I would not be eating meat…so I cut a bit of my ikan terubok masin and fried it…..

Ikan terubok masin

Then, this morning, I cooked a variation of the Bovril mee sua that I cooked a few days ago. Now instead of the mee sua, I used two pieces of those egg noodles that you can buy in packets at the supermarkets…and instead of the half-boiled free range eggs, I fried one nui pau (egg purse) and presto!!! I managed to keep the yolk intact! Clever!!! Hahahahahahahaha!!!!

Bovril noodles

Whew! Luckily I have concrete evidence to protect my good reputation! So Bongkersz, you’ll have to eat your words now!!!! Next time, don’t simply say liao!!! Of course, time and time again, I will post on things that I eat outside…especially when they are very nice so that others may go and enjoy them too. Now I definitely would not encourage anyone to go for this fried kway teow in tomato sauce that I had for brunch on Sunday…

Fried kway teow in tomato sauce

nor this fried kway teow (minus the tomato sauce) that my missus had…at Kin Coffee Hut, Pusat Tanahwang here in Sibu.

Fried kway teow
The mee sua in chicken soup is fine…and the lor mee at the other stall there is also worth trying!

Then, today, I went to Ruby again with two pretty ladies who happened to be in town and we had their specialty, the Pandan Chicken…..

Pandan chicken/Fried mee sua

Bengbeng will definitely give TWO thumbs up for this dish…and in the background, you can see the fried mee sua that Clare would die for! We also had a few other dishes but I was so caught up in the captivating conversation and the delightful company that I forgot to take the photographs. Ah well…another time perhaps!!! Hahahahahahahaha!!!!!!

Stronger…

Those who are into Chinese herbal cooking should be familiar with names like ginseng, tungkwai, cordyceps, khee sat and so on and will attest to the fact that these are good for health. The Foochows will cook duck or chicken in pa tin eyok, a combination of different kinds of herbs and stuff that is available pre-packed in plastic bags…and they say you can get the best and the cheapest from a shop in Sarikei (Bongkersz? Any idea?)

Personally though, I prefer char bee lau which is used to cook chicken or pork (leg). These are long black roots that you may see outside the Chinese medical stores in Sibu; I don’t know if you can see it elsewhere. In the past, people had to buy a bundle and cut them into small bits and pieces at home but be forewarned! The roots are very very hard so you will need a sharp chopper/axe and a lot of strength! Thankfully, the medical stores today have ready-cut ones pre-packed in plastic…and you can even get these in some supermarkets here though some people may claim that it is not so nice if it is not freshly-cut. To me, anything that’s easier is better! LOL!!!

Char bee lau chicken 1

In the past, I would see my mother boiling the roots in water for a long time and then she would drain it and use the water to cook the chicken. I would just throw the roots into the slow cooker together with the chicken, chopped into pieces plus a chunk of crushed ginger, some meng ngee (dried cuttlefish) and shitake mushrooms, lots of Foochow red wine and water…and then switch the appliance on! When it has started boiling, just add a bit of salt, according to taste. Here’s another photo of it, taken with the night mode on…

Char bee lau chicken 2

It is claimed that if you have been travelling or working OT…and you are very tired, it will help revive you and make you stronger! I like it for its taste. When you are cooking it, the whole house will be filled with its fragrance. Maybe those of you who have eaten this before would like to add your comment?

And since I am posting on Foochow delicacies, I was at one of those mini-supermarkets yesterday…and was pleasantly surprised that they are selling these already…

Foochow moon cake

That’s right! You’ve read correctly! Kek bulan, or translation, moon cake! Goodness gracious! The Mooncake Festival (Chung Chiu Chieh) is not until September 14th…but I think I’ve seen those direct-sale catalogues advertising too – mooncakes, as most people would know them. But I have loved these jing su gao, the Foochow biscuit-like mooncakes, since young…and make sure you buy those that mengandungi lemak babi (contain lard/pig fat) as they taste nicer! They have some without lard but these are harder and a bit too  sweet. And I like the ones from this place in particular – some shop in Sarikei!!! RM4.00 a packet only. Though it was very much cheaper, it’s definitely cheaper than eating those mooncakes today! Looking at the prices, one would think they’re gold-plated or something!!! No thanks, I’ll just stick to my jing su gao!!! Well, Kuching bloggers! You can get Bongkersz to bring back a few packets for you when he goes home to Sarikei to see his parents!!! Place your orders today! ROTFLMAO!!!!! 

I want it that way…

Mee sua literally means thread or string noodles, a name accorded to it probably due to the resemblance. It is believed that in ancient China, it was reserved for the imperial dining table. Today, it is eaten on birthdays, anniversaries, festivals and other auspicious occasions in the hope that one will be blessed with long life and good fortune.

Mee sua in chicken soupFried birthday mee sua

The photograph on the left shows how mee sua has been served all these years – in a bowl of steaming hot soup of chicken cooked with ginger, dried shitake mushrooms and traditional red wine. The hard-boiled eggs are usually served unpeeled with the shell coloured red. As a matter of fact, women after childbirth, especially those from the Foochow community, will eat this every day throughout their confinement period.

However, today, an alternative would be to have it fried. This is getting quite popular among diners and is available in a few restaurants in Sibu. The above photograph (on the right) shows fried mee sua served with “golden” eggs (hard-boiled eggs that have been lightly-browned by deep frying them in oil). I have another photograph below (stolen from clare aka kampua talk) in case anybody wants a clearer view of the dish…

Fried mee sua

Well, other than having mee sua in those two ways that I have mentioned earlier, here is another way that you may wish to try. Take roughly a spoonful of cooking oil, a spoonful of Bovril and a bit of msg…and after you have boiled the mee sua until it is soft and translucent, drain away the water and mix the noodles with the ingredients. It will be nicer if you fry some chopped shallots and use the oil, and add the fried shallots and some spring onions as well. The end product will look something like this…

Bovril mee sua with half-boiled eggs

I had two half-boiled free range eggs to go with the mee sua but unfortunately, one of the yolks broke…so you may think that it looks kinda messy. (I was too lazy to use a separate plate for the eggs! LOL!!) Well, here’s a close-up shot of it…..

Bovril mee sua close-up

If you do not quite care for the taste of Bovril, you may substitute that with soy sauce…and if you like it hot, you can add a spoonful of chilli sauce as well. So there you have it – the different ways in which you can enjoy mee sua. Which way would you want yours?

That’s the way I like it…

Sometimes, especially after having been eating out a lot, I would yearn for some simple food. Yesterday, I cooked some sayur masak lemak again or what some people would call sayur lodeh

sayur masak lemak

As usual, I had sweet potatoes, cabbage, bean curd sticks, baby corn, fish balls…and this time I threw in a bit of cangkuk manis, button mushrooms and fresh water prawns, and I also added a bit of hay bee (dried prawns) and belacan to the pounded ingredients; I did not use these the last time as my mother had some itchy rashes. As a result, I think it was much nicer this time around.

For one thing, there are vegetables for roughage and sources of protein in that one dish, so eaten with rice, we would have a balanced meal already. Today I cooked sayur rebus with the leftover sweet potatoes and cangkuk manis (Usually I would not be using all of the RM1.00 bundle as there is simply too much of it!)…..

sayur rebus

…and since it was a vegetable soup dish, I had to prepare something else for protein. Most of the time, my wife would go to do the marketing…and whenever I want to cook, I would just have to make do with what is in the refrigerator. Well, I found this bundle of pork in the freezer so I just boiled it…and pounded some belacan to eat it with.

Boiled pork and belacan

I wonder if you all know it or not, but boiled pork, roast pork, phak lor pork/pork leg (in soy sauce and five spice powder) and so on will taste much nicer with belacan! Ok! OK! The fatty pork isn’t exactly good for health…but my wife always insists on buying such three-layer pork cuts as she feels the meat is nicer! I always tell her that I’ve this uncanny suspicion that she is trying to kill me! LOL!!! Anyway, we would just eat the lean and throw away the fat (which I feel, is such a waste)! 

I did not have much time nor the necessary ingredients like prawns and bean curd skin, otherwise I could mince the pork (then you do not get to see all that fat! Hahahahaha!!! What you don’t know won’t hurt you!) and make ngor hiang (meat roll)…..

Ngor hiang

Well, it’s Friday tomorrow and usually, I do not eat meat. Perhaps I’ll just cook some sweet and sour fish fillet, with cucumber and tomatoes and eat that with some rice…and that again would be a balanced meal by itself…..

Sweet and sour fish fillet

Well, it certainly beats eating out as not only is it cheaper but there is not that much oil used and a lot less salt and msg. Often, after eating out, I would feel very thirsty and end up drinking a lot of water…but not when I eat my own cooking at home…and that’s the way I like it!!!

Here, there and everywhere…

Life’s back to normal now. I have resumed my usual daily routine because my daughter has gone back to the other side of the world country to complete her Foundation year. But the day before she left, she wanted some dosai or thosai whichever way you wish to spell it, so we went to Balkis again…and this time, I remembered to insist that they made it paper thin and my daughter actually had TW0 of these…

Paper thin dosai

I had a bit of rice and a few of the stuff they had – hati masak hitam (literal translation – liver cooked black), sambal sotong (cuttlefish/kalamari in sambal) and nenas masak kunyit (pineapples in tumeric)….. 

Balkis mixed rice

They all tasted very nice!!! With drinks, it came up to only RM11-12.00 (inclusive of charges for sitting in the air-conditioned section). However, I think it was earlier that day that I took my daughter to this Toto cafe somewhere behind Delta Mall, opposite Everise to try the kolo mee that somebody said was very nice…..

Imitation kolo mee

It was definitely nothing like kolo mee…and it wouldn’t be so bad if it had tasted nice. Well, as they always say, do not believe everything you hear…and that would be the first and the last time I would go and eat there! On the other hand, yesterday being a Sunday, I went to church and after the service, I had this for brunch….. 

Tom yam mihun

This was the tom yam mihun I had at a coffee shop also in the same vicinity (Delta Commercial Centre, the coffee shop next to the Sweet Smelling Bakery). It was nice and cost only RM4.00. Of course, the miserable shrimps cannot compare with the huge udang galah (freshwater prawns) that Huai Bin had at Glory Cafe in Sarikei but that, if I remember correctly, cost RM15.00! I would rather tapau (takeaway) this for RM4.00 to heat up at home and throw in a few of those giant prawns myself. You can get them at the Sibu Central Market, the native jungle produce section at RM10 per plate of 10 – 15 prawns or more, depending on the sizes. Anyway, talking about Huai Bin…..

Huai Bin of sixthseal.com

He contacted me and asked me out to dinner with a number of other bloggers. It had been a few years since we used to bump into each other at airports…and lately, we had communicated via our blogs. So last Saturday night, we went for the RM11.50 nett per head buffet at Li Hua Hotel coffee house. That was really cheap and the food was good, especially what was left of the ayam masak hitam (black cooked chicken). They have the buffet every Saturday but be forewarned that if you wish to go for it, be there early (around 7 p.m.) for it seems that they do not refill anything that runs out in the buffet spread. It certainly was nice meeting Huai Bin again; I’ve always liked him and felt he has always been very pleasant and polite (Maybe it’s because I’m old…and a friend of the parents? LOL!!!), and easy to talk to, despite the disparity in our ages. I will not post on the dinner itself as all the others have done so…and I do not wish to be redundant. After all, it wasn’t so much the food that night but the company. We had a great time, to say the least…and stayed till they started switching off the lights to hint to us that it was about time we left! LOL!!

Well, also on Saturday, in the afternoon, I went to the Rajang Park post office to send a letter. Strangely though, the car park was full…..

Car park full

Normally, it would be quite empty on Saturday afternoons as everybody would be relaxing at home and enjoying the start of the weekend. Never mind, I got myself a space as somebody was leaving…and walked to the post office. To my surprise, it was open…and there was a long queue!

Queue for RM600-rebate

Good grief! They were all there to claim the RM600 rebate in lieu of the increase in the petrol prices. I heard that the crowd was very much bigger at the Central Post Office in town, spilling over onto the road. I really wonder what the hurry was…for we have until March next year to make the claim. Is it like this too elsewhere in the country or is it just in Sibu?

Well, that’s about it for this rojak post. Here’s hoping that you all will have a wonderful week ahead…..

The sweet escape…

This post is RATED 18-SX! Proceed no further if you are underaged!…LOL!!!

Some days over here, it can get really hot…and it certainly would be nice to escape from the heat! Well, you can head to Delta Mall in Pedada Commercial Centre…and while you are there, you may want something cold to drink and a light snack perhaps. Easy! Just drop by KOKOBERRY…

Kokoberry sign

It’s on the ground floor in one corner and you can get some freezing thirst-quenching drinks and do try one of the specialty of the house, crepes. This sweet lady-blogger is the enterprising proprietress (http://goolooloo.com).

Goolooloo

She was nice enough to invite me and a few other bloggers over for a special treat so we all turned up in full force. After all, as they say, the best things in life are free! LOL!!!

This is the counter in the shop…

Kokoberry counter

Drinks were served all around…and I had a cappuccino. I have always been a kopi-o guy but I must say I liked it very much. Very cold, not too sweet…and had that rich aroma of coffee! I don’t know what Clare had…but she was already halfway thru’ by the time I got there…..

Clare at Kokoberry

…with her hand fondling around Alvin’s toy camera, safely strapped around her neck as always! Huai Bin was busy sucking enjoying his too… ROTFLMAO!!!

Huai Bin at Kokoberry

Clement and Bengbeng were also around…and all the flashes (of the sophisticated cameras lah!!!) certainly caught the attention of all the curious shoppers walking past! Needless to say, I was reluctant to take out my tiny…handphone with photo-taking facility but in the end, I had no choice but to fish it out of my pants pocket. I had promised goolooloo that I would post on her shop and I would need some photos to go along with it. The one I have here shows this little kid (Benghui), obviously delighted with his chocolate chip crepe…

Benghui and his crepe

…and this one shows this BIG kid clearly sexcited that he was getting one whole cheesey creep crepe all to himself!! LOL!!!

Hauai Bin and his crepe

So, there you have it! Do yourself a favour. Pamper yourself and stop by KOKOBERRY at Delta Mall today!

To each his own…

In Malaysia, we have all kinds of cuisines to choose from…but being from a Chinese family, on special occasions, we will have the typical banquet with at least 8 to 10 courses, starting with this hot combination dish perhaps… 

Hot combination dish

This was what we had the other day for the Dragon Boat Festival (Tuan Wu Chieh)…and this was followed by the soup that shall not be named. After that, we had a plate of chicken, done in two different ways – roast on one side and chicken with Thai sauce on the other…

Two-style chicken

and then we had fried snowfish with its special sauce and baked cheese prawns…

fish and prawn

There was delicious roast duck too, served with baked man tao and its special sauce…

roast duck Baked mantao

and after that, we had a plate of Foochow fried mee for the benefit of my deprived sibling, home for a few days from Auckland, New Zealand with his kids…and lastly, we had dessert. All that came up to RM350 for 10 persons, that is over AUS$100 and around NZ$150…

I guess if we opt for some Western cuisine, it may be more expensive but it is definitely not as heavy and once in a while, it may be nice to go for something different . Well, we had a lot of Western fare when we were in Kuching recently and around that same time, Gerrie had this beef tenderloin with shitake mushrooms at Grazie in KK…

beef tenderloin with mushrooms

and also this plate of pasta…

Grazie's pasta

But personally, after all that rich and heavy stuff, I would yearn for some plain porridge with omelette or salted/century eggs with salted fish and preserved vegetables…or those simple kampung dishes that my grandma and my mother used to cook and one thing’s for sure, this plate of umai (Melanau-style raw fish) that Gundot made would definitely be a welcome change…

Melanau umai

Well, you may not agree with my point of view. After all, one man’s meat is another man’s poison…so as the song title for this post goes, to each his own!!!

Eat it…

I was on a weekend trip with some friends recently and one of my friends was cooking breakfast for the whole group. I went over to see what he was cooking and saw he was getting ready to make a big batch of eggs. Well, to my shock and horror, I noticed that he was cracking the eggs open and screening the egg whites into a bowl and throwing out the egg yolks.

I asked him why the heck he was throwing out the egg yolks, and he replied, ‘Because the egg yolks are terrible for you. That’s where all the nasty fat and cholesterol are.’

And I replied, ‘You mean that’s where all the nutrition is!’

Oyster omelette
Oyster omelette: Camemberu’s photo
from http://www.flickr.com

This is a perfect example of how confused most people are about nutrition. In a world full of misinformation, somehow most people now mistakenly think that the egg yolk is the worst part of the egg, when in fact, the YOLK IS THE HEALTHIEST PART OF THE EGG! By throwing out the yolk and only eating egg whites, you’re essentially throwing out the most nutrient dense, antioxidant-rich, vitamin and mineral loaded portion of the egg.

The yolks contain so many B-vitamins, trace minerals, vitamin A, folate, choline, lutein, and other powerful nutrients…: it’s not even worth trying to list them all. In fact, the egg whites are almost devoid of nutrition compared to the yolk. Even the protein in egg whites isn’t as powerful without the yolks to balance out the amino acid profile and make the protein more bio-available, not to even mention that the egg yolks from free range chickens are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Yolks contain more than 90% of the calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, B6, folate, and B12, and panthothenic acid of the egg. In addition, the yolks contain all of the fat soluble vitamins A, E, and K in the egg, as well as all of the essential fatty acids.

Poached egg in instant noodles

And now the common objection I get all the time when I say that the yolks are the most nutritious part of the egg…’But I heard that whole eggs will skyrocket my cholesterol through the roof!’…No, this is FALSE! First of all, when you eat a food that contains a high amount of dietary cholesterol such as eggs, your body down-regulates its internal production of cholesterol to balance things out. On the other hand, if you don’t eat enough cholesterol, your body simply produces more since cholesterol has tons of important functions in the body.

And here’s where it gets even more interesting…There are indications that eating whole eggs actually raises your good HDL cholesterol to a higher degree than LDL cholesterol, thereby improving your overall cholesterol ratio and blood chemistry. And…high cholesterol is NOT a disease!  Heart disease is.

Fried egg with nasi lemak
espion’s photo from http://www.flickr.com

So I hope we’ve established that whole eggs are not some evil food that will wreck your body…and actually whole eggs are FAR superior to egg whites. Also, your normal supermarket eggs coming from mass factory farming just don’t compare nutritionally with organic free range eggs from healthy chickens that are allowed to roam freely and eat a more natural diet. I recently compared eggs I bought at the grocery store with a batch of eggs I got at a farm stand where the chickens were free roaming and healthy. Most people don’t realize that there’s a major difference because they’ve never bought real eggs from healthy chickens. The eggs from the grocery store had pale yellow yolks. On the other hand, the healthier free range eggs had deep orange coloured yolks indicating much higher nutrition levels and carotenoids.

Free range eggs
Free range eggs: smallar and paler but nicer taste. 80 sen each at the shops in Sibu, 60 sen direct from supplier

One more thing about eggs…I read a study recently that compared groups of people that ate egg breakfasts vs groups of people that ate cereal or bagel based breakfasts.  The results of the study showed that the egg eaters lost or maintained a healthier bodyweight, while the cereal/bagel eaters gained weight. It was hypothesized that the egg eaters actually ate less calories during the remainder of the day because their appetite was more satisfied compared to the cereal/bagel eaters who would be more prone to wild blood sugar swings and food cravings.

Disclaimer: I received the above from a friend via email, so I am in no position to claim it to be gospel truth. As always, it’s your body and you decide what you want to stuff in it.

Simply the best…

People around KL would swear that they have the best bak kut teh at some place in Klang. Well, I never had the chance to sample that…but those that I had tried elsewhere were very nice, though not very different from what we have here at Ba Sen Ba Ku Teh along Kpg Datu Road in Sibu, which would come as no surprise for around the time when it first opened, I heard that the chef originated from West Malaysia.

Well, Huai Bin had a post on this place a few months back, so you all can hop over to his blog if you want to see nicer photos. (I’m not trying to increase his traffic here but I do notice that I get quite a number of visits each day via his blog! An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth… LOL!)

I had some errands to run yesterday so my daughter and I had to have lunch outside and she wanted to go there for Bak Kut Mee (literally translated, meat bone noodles). It was served in a claypot and priced at RM4.50…

Bak Kut noodles

But you may opt not to have the noodles, in which case it will be priced at RM5.00…and you can request for the side orders of rice and yew chia kwai.

Bak Kut Teh

One thing that I definitely will have to concede is that our satay pales in comparison with those in Kajang. They are small…and the sellers are very stingy with the gravy…and we only have two choices – chicken and beef, or should I say one, because the other day, when my missus went to buy some at the stall at Taman Selera Muhibbah, they did not have any beef ones. I guess this has got something to do with the Sarabif monopoly in the state over fresh beef…and Australian and NZ beef is getting way too expensive.

Sibu satay

In Kajang, the sticks of satay are huge and they will give you the complimentary gravy in big bowls and they will refill, once you run out. Other than chicken and beef, they also had lamb…and my daughter loves those!!! Other than than, we don’t have ketupat here; I don’t know why they don’t make those anymore…but I really love having some with my satay.

Well, I haven’t come across any kampua in KL (though I’ve tried two semi-authentic Sarawak kolo mee there) but those in Kuching, KK and elsewhere are definitely nothing like what kampua should be. But anyway, my main intention in including this here is actually to disprove kpenyu’s criticism that the slices of meat are paper thin and will fly away once you switch on the fan…

Sibu kampua mee poh

See…my kpenyu law-eya!!! They’re definitely not as you claim them to be so you’ll have to retract your statement now or else all the Sibu kampua sellers will take legal action against you for defamation of their good reputation. LOL!!! Well, in my case, I will always ask for pian-sip/kiaw/wantan instead of those slices of meat anyway…and incidentally, what you see in the photo is the flat mee pok done kampua-style…and these few days, I wonder if the price has gone up from its usual RM2.00/Rm2.20. I haven’t heard anything regarding this and as they say, no news is good news!