Gave me…

My neighbour gave me this the other day and I managed to cook this dish…

…for dinner with it, moringa leaves!

At one time, everyone was talking about it and I also went in search of the green noodles, made from those leaves. Unfortunately, it did not sweep me off my feet so I never went back for more. I did check the websites and I saw a lot of health benefits one could derive from them and I was contemplating on planting my own tree. Luckily, my friend, Annie, in KL sent me a photograph of the one in her mum’s garden – it was HUGE, as big as a durian tree and I changed my mind instantly!

My neighbour at the back had a tree right beside the fence and ever so often, the broken twigs and branches would drop over on our side but I never paid any attention to them. I don’t know why they eventually got rid of it and in its place, they have planted a few guava trees and it sure looks like they are enjoying the fruits, growing in abundance all over the trees.

This neighbour who gave me the leaves…

…had a plant in a pot so the growth is kind of inhibited or controlled, so to speak. I guess that is why it is small and so are the leaves as well.

I did not know how to cook them so I went and googled. It looked like most people would brew tea with them and drink and others would dry them in the sun, pound them into powder and stuff them in capsules and eat. I saw an Indian recipe with dhal and the rest were all fried with egg, like cangkok manis. I went and asked my friends on Facebook and most said I could fry with egg like cangkok manis. One said I could throw them into the soup when I cook instant noodles – actually, that did cross my mind! In the end, I decided to go about it my own way.

I fried some chopped garlic in oil till golden brown, added one chili, thinly sliced, followed by all the stuff I got from here – two prawns (with heads and shell intact), a few pieces of sotong (squid) and some fried fish cake made from the bay kar/ikan tenggiri (mackerel)paste that I bought, sliced and when it was done, I added an egg, followed by a teaspoon of oyster sauce diluted in some water…

I must say that it tasted very nice… – one can never go wrong with all that seafood!

If the leaves had any taste, I sure couldn’t detect it and on the whole, I must say that cangkok manis, with its special sweetness, can win hands down. However, considering that the dish tastes all right and that the leaves have so many health benefits. that got me wondering as to why this is not cooked and served at our restaurants and chu-char (cook and fry) places in town.

Short-lived…

I blogged about how happy I was, when in the absence of the shallots/bawang merah (red onions)/chang kia (small/baby onions) from India, I was able to grab hold of some from Myanmar. Unfortunately, the happiness was short-lived as it was not in any way as fragrant, not so nice…and extremely expensive, RM26.00 per kilo, and likewise, the spring onions that I managed to get from planting them were quite disappointing, more suitable for colour and presentation only.

The good news is the ones from India are available again and I wasted no time at all in planting them in the hope of getting some spring onions that I can use with my instant noodles or whatever that I may be cooking. Unfortunately, out of the many that I planted, only two sprouted…

…but there is still some hope. The morning after I took this photograph, I spotted another one breaking through the soil. I quickly picked some more, the ones with longer roots, and planted them. Fingers crossed, these will yield a bountiful harvest.

The whole time when there were no shallots from India, there were no spring onions for sale at the market. If you go and eat kampua mee at the shops, you will not see the usual sprinkling of fried shallots and chopped spring onions on top.

My missis went and bought daun sup (Chinese celery) for use as a substitute. We would use the leaves and the stems but we would leave a bit, those parts close to the roots, intact and I took the ends and planted them. Of course, I was delighted to see that they have sprouted…

…and are growing quite well. My missus did try a few times but no, she did not fare as well.

Talking about what she planted, she bought some sweet basil sometime ago…or at least, that was what she said it was. She also saved the bottom part of the stems and the roots to plant but only one…

…survived and I don’t remember the leaves being this big in the ones she bought.

Well, it does not look like there is enough to cook for one dish. Perhaps we can pluck and drop them into our instant noodles instead.

All you get…

I liked the mini char siew pao from Johore that my missus bought not too long ago so I told everyone about them on Facebook. My friend, Annie, in KL promptly commented on my post and shared a photograph of this…

She likes this one too!

That was why when the ladies went out shopping the other day, I told them to drop by the supermarket and grab a pack for me if they see it there. Well, they did and yes, they got me a pack.

The very next morning, I could not wait to steam it to heat it up and give it a try. When I opened the pack, I was stunned. There were ONLY two…

…inside, two big ones but two is all you get in a pack, no more, no less!

Yes, they were very nice, piping hot, straight from the steamer and there were huge chunks of meat inside, with quite a bit of egg some more…

…unlike those miserable steamed paos here.

However, they are RM11.00 something a pack so it works out to almost RM6.00 EACH, two plates of kampua mee, mind you! At that price, I think I would give them a pass – at least, I’ve given them a try and I do know how good they are. Period.

TA KIONG EMPORIUM (2.2933,111.82713,783) is located at No. 42-46, Jalan Tuanku Osman.

Seafood…

I have not gone to the central market here in Sibu since the outbreak of the pandemic last year so it has been over a year now. They are very strict with the SOP’s when anyone wants to enter but I do not fancy how everyone is free to move around as it pleases them and physical distancing seems to be the last thing on their minds. Lately I have noticed a lot of pork shops opening here and there all over town and other than those, now stalls selling fish and other seafood are popping up everywhere too.

I do not have a problem buying these from the shops in my neighbourhood so I see no reason to go to the central market at all and lately, I’ve been buying seafood from one stall located by the side of the building where this shop, hotel and food court are located. It will only open when there is a fresh supply of fish, prawns and what not and I was delighted to see it was open when I went over very early the other morning on Good Friday at around 6.40 a.m.

The lady boss and the workers were very busy taking out all the fish and everything and arranging them nicely at the stall. There was only one other customer that early, a lady so there was physical distancing and everyone was wearing masks.

My girl loves sotong (squid) so I bought some and we had that…

…cooked with assam (tamarind) and kunyit (turmeric) for dinner that evening. We were fasting and abstaining from meat the whole day so this was indeed a lovely treat.

I bought 2 kilos of the bigger ones…

…selling for RM20.00 a kilo. There were small ones but my missus does not like like those as cleaning them would be such a chore and will take like forever, the same reason why I am not fond of buying those small pek hay (seawater prawns).

There was enough for two servings like this…

…and I did ask my missus to pack a few in small packets so we can drop them into our instant noodles or use to fry vegetables like how we use prawns for this same purpose.

I did not buy any prawns as we still have those in the freezer but I was thrilled to bits when I saw some ikan terubok – the lady said their season is starting at this point in time – and I wasted no time in grabbing two of them. She also had some phak thik poh, literally translated as the blacksmith’s wife (tripletail fish or patipok or kuku laut in Malay, 打铁婆,松鲷 in Chinese), but they were way too big. She said that I could buy half, RM20 a kilo for the top and RM25 for the bottom. Of course I wanted the bottom – for reasons unknown, my girl loves the tail when it comes to fish. I told her to cut it into slices so we would be able to just fry and serve.

Once I was done, I made my way home, feeling really pleased with my loot that morning.

The fish stall is located to the right of CCL FRESH MINI MARKET against the wall at the 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, on your left just before the Petronas petrol station a short distance from Delta Mall. You can also go in via Lorong Pipit 4, turning left into the lane at the junction where Starbucks Sibu is located and go straight ahead from there.

Very good…

My missus went to that supermarket in town, the one that imports all kinds of stuff from everywhere within the country and from countries overseas and came home with this…

As far as I know, the only good ones available in town are from this shop and also from those dim sum selections at one Chinese restaurant here. I guess the latter are freshly made but the ones at the former are actually brought in frozen from the main shop in Kuching – they only steam them for sale here. They started off at RM1.50 each in 2017 and now they are over RM2.00 each. I have not been to the dim sum breakfast at that Chinese restaurant so I am not sure how much theirs cost now. If I remember correctly, they were RM4.50 for a lau (storey/basket) of 2 a long long time ago.

Where I am concerned, the locally-made ones are not worth the calories. The meat filling may or may not have the right shade of red and it does not even taste of char siew (BBQ pork), not at all. The meat ones may be quite good depending on where one goes to so I may buy those instead sometimes.

These that my missus bought are from Johore, distributed by a company in Skudai but there is no mention as to where exactly the factory that makes the buns is located. The skin is very good and yes, the char siew filling…

…is very nice too.

There are 9 of these mini buns…

…altogether in a pack, tagged at RM9.80 each which means that one costs less than RM1.10. Be forewarned that they are very small and because they are so nice, you may finish off half the pack in one sitting without your realising it!

TA KIONG EMPORIUM (2.2933,111.82713,783) is located at No. 42-46, Jalan Tuanku Osman.

I really did

All these years, I have wanted to make my own so much so that I even bookmarked this 2012 post in this particular blog that appeared very detailed and comprehensive about how to go about it. However, it has turned out to be a case of the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak and I never got down to doing it.

I am talking about my favourite Malay kuih, the serimuka

…also known as kuih salat or what we call, for reasons unknown, tinggi salad.

Over the years, we never had any good ones here unless we get it from Kuching – I do not even recall enjoying any special order homemade ones that were good. The ones they sell at the Chinese cake stalls or the Malay kuih ones are not worth the calories. I do not know why the pulut (glutinous rice) is extremely white but it is very obvious why the upper egg custard layer is a stunning apple green – it is all artificial colouring, not pandan, and as if that is not bad enough, the texture is all wrong, something like agar-agar which should not be the case.

Well, lately we have been able to get some pretty decent ones from a couple of places here and the other day, my sister bought some from here and gave us a couple of packs. One thing that I liked about this one was how they did not staple the corners of the plastic packs…

The lid fits perfectly so it will not open by itself anyhow. I do not mind the ones that use cellophane tape, unlike the stapled ones – those are very hard to open as the flimsy plastic tends to tear easily and besides, the hardly visible staple may come loose and drop into the kuih! That is so very dangerous if it is accidentally swallowed!

We all tried these…

…that are available on certain days only – the ones on other days may be from this girl – hers would be good too but all of us agreed that this one has a slight edge over hers – it was a little bit more lemak and my missus was praising the texture of the green layer that she said was very nicely done.

I hear there are other types of nice nyonya kuihs available but I do not know how much they are selling them for – they shouldn’t be very expensive. Usually, these kuihs are quite affordable here unlike the ones over in the peninsula and they may not even be nice! However, much as I love them, I am staying away from these sweet delights at this point in time – they usually have a high sugar content and pulut (glutinous rice) is notorious for its level of hidden sugar. Do drop by the place yourself and ask the people there if you are thus inclined.

HONG KONG PUFF is located along Ramin Way (2.291180, 111.826634), beside Sin Kiaw Coffee Shop, right behind the Petronas station at Kpg Nyabor Road (formerly Esso) across the road from the HSBC Building, Sibu branch. 

Two ways…

The other morning when I went over to the neighbourhood shop to buy the ingredients for my Sarawak laksa, the lady boss kept trying to persuade me to buy the fresh venison/deer meat that had just arrived. I was not all that keen as I have never been a fan of the meat. I feel it does not have its own unique taste or smell unlike beef or lamb or wild boar. At best, I will eat when there is any but I will not go out of my way for it.

I don’t think there is a problem getting to eat it at our local Chinese chu-char stalls and restaurants but as far as I know, they all cook it in that same way – with lots of ginger and soy sauce, served in a hot plate like the one here

Mom's Place venison

…or here

Ruby venison

…or just simply in a plate…

Y2K venison

…like what we had here.

What I did not know was that my missus  was quite keen so when she went over that afternoon, she bought this huge chunk…

Venison

…of the meat.

Of course that was a lot so she divided it into two and cooked one half of it…

Fried venison

…for our lunch and dinner that day.

She cooked curry…

Venison curry

…with the other half to keep in the fridge to take out and enjoy on another day. My late mum used to buy venison sometimes – it must be dirt cheap way back then – and cooked curry with it.

Yes, it was nice and yes, we enjoyed it very much but like I said earlier, because it does not have any taste or smell of its own, it could jolly well be pork or chicken – they’re all pretty much the same.

Do like that…

I happened to see this Australian-Vietnamese chef, Luke Nguyen, on one of his food travel shows on TV the other day. He went round all the places in Vietnam enjoying all the gorgeous local culinary delights. I do love Vietnamese cuisine and the best that I have had the pleasure of enjoying would be this one in Kuching that I enjoyed a lot more than this one in Miri.

I saw on the aforementioned TV show how they eat those Vietnamese mint or daun kesum leaves…

Daun kesum

…with whatever they were eating just like that. I do have those growing in my garden and we do use them in our cooking like when my missus cooks chicken in the ethnic ayam pansoh (chicken cooked in bamboo) style or when I cook ikan buris wrapped in daun kunyit (turmeric leaves)…

Pa'is ikan buris

…but no, I would not want to eat them raw because of the extra-strong pungent smell which blends in rather nicely with whatever one is cooking when cooked.

The ones in my garden do not seem to be doing too well right now, growing but not flourishing. Hopefully, they will recover and look a whole lot better soon. The same goes to my Thai basil…

Thai basil

…which is another one of those leaves that they eat a lot in Vietnam, raw. We do use it quite a lot in our cooking…

Thai basil in beef pho

…but just like the daun kesum, we do not eat it raw. At best, I would just take the leaves, throw them into the piping hot soup and take it from there.

We have acquired the taste of this sawtooth coriander…

Sawtooth coriander

…the “cousin” of the daun ketumbar (coriander leaves) that is a must in Kuching popiah or as a topping in Kuching laksa. The uninitiated would quickly pick them up and get rid of them, grumbling that they smell of bed bugs! LOL!!!

We got ours from our friends at Payung and talking about them, they also gave us these Holy Basil…

Holy Basil

…seeds. Brew the leaves with ginger and mint…

Mint

…for instant relief from cough! It certainly worked quite well for me.

I must say that I rather enjoy watching those food and travel shows that feature our neighbouring countries and seeing how similar we all are in what we do and eat.

Good for us…

The other day, I blogged about the  New Zealand hake fish that we bought.  We did not really enjoy it oven-baked/grilled and we decided to try some other way of cooking the other piece that we had.

No, we did not think we would like it steamed either and knowing my girl so well, I was quite sure she would love it coated with batter or bread crumbs and deep fried a la fish &chips. The mum went for the latter…

New Zealand hake

…and yes, it was very nice, enough for the three of us for two meals – it was not a very big piece for some RM26.00 or so but considering that a plate of that VERY thin slice of New Zealand hoki (plus rice and pickles) at our local Sarawak franchise is currently on promotion at RM9.90 a plate, this does not seem all that expensive after all.

Incidentally, I now patronise a seafood (fish & prawn) stall by the side of The Grand Wonderful Hotel building. The lady will only be there if there is a fresh supply of fish – she wanted to give me her contact number so I would be able to call and find out if she would be there or not but I said it was all right. I stay close by and can always hop over to check anytime.

For one thing, the lady is very friendly and when I buy those huge prawns, I would ask her to pick for me and she would choose the best ones, no need to get my fingers all smelly. That day, I bought a kilo at only RM40.00 and I got 40 of those  crustaceans altogether, only RM1.00 each. I used to buy at the shop near my house, over RM40 a pack (RM60.00 a kilo), assorted sizes and I would get over 20 only, over RM2.00 each and most were not really big! Incidentally, I also bought a kilo of the regular-sized ones, RM16.00 a kilo, I think. It went up to some RM18.00 to RM20.00 at the central market at one time.

Other than that, there are very few/no customers so there is no problem whatsoever when it comes to physical distancing. If there is somebody there, we can just wait a while – let him or her buy and leave before we approach the stall. The aforementioned shop in the next lane is getting a bit too crowded these days even when it is still so early in the morning so I do not feel all that comfortable stopping to pick up anything that I may need.

Well, it so happened that that morning, the lady had filleted some bay kar/ikan tenggiri (mackerel) and scraped off the flesh/meat for making fish balls. No, she did not season it – she only sells it like that with specific instructions to defrost and add one’s own salt and msg when one wants to cook it. I bought quite a lot – with the RM10.00 pack, we were able to come out with this big pot of fish ball soup with tang hoon (glass noodles)…

Fish ball tang hoon soup

My missus just added a bit of salt, no msg and whipped it till really very QQ and boy, it was really fresh and sweet, so very nice!!!

Actually, ever since I saw the photo that day of the gorgeous tod mun pla (Thai fish cakes) that my missus cooked sometime ago, I was wishing we could have those again but unfortunately, she thought otherwise. Maybe she did not have all the ingredients and actually, I guess one deep-fried dish would be enough for the day so she cooked soup with it instead. Well, I still have a few packs in the freezer so hopefully, we can have that Thai delight some other day.

We had some daun sup (Chinese celery) in the house so we used that to garnish the soup and saved the spring onions that I had harvested and chopped…

Spring onions

…for another day.

The fish stall is located to the right of CCL FRESH MINI MARKET against the wall at the 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, on your left just before the Petronas petrol station a short distance from Delta Mall. You can also go in via Lorong Pipit 4, turning left into the lane at the junction where Starbucks Sibu is located and go straight ahead from there.

Sushi…

The other day, my girl was called back to school because there were things to be done. Yes, if you’re one of those who think that teachers are so fortunate and get to stay home, shaking legs all this time, think again! Usually, they work from home but sometimes, they have to go back to answer their call of duty.

She will call me when she’s done and I will drive over to get her and bring her home. That is not a problem as Sibu is a very very small town – it will only take around 5-10 minutes and with the on-going MCO or CMCO, traffic is not all that heavy.

However, that day, my sister was in the vicinity and my girl contacted me to let me know that she would give her a ride home. What I did not know at the time was she told the aunt that she was thinking of having some sushi and the latter thought she might want these…

UNIQ SUSHI BAR

…for a change from the usual here or here.

These people have been around for a very long time now. They have a stall at the mall round the corner from my house ever since the mall opened for business, if I am not mistaken. I’ve never tried anything from them though but I think my girl and the mum did and I did not hear them complain. My guess is, therefore, what they dished out wasn’t too bad.

Now, their sushi and whatever else including those things wrapped in seaweed, whatever you call them, are available at a family mart in the block of shops on the way to my sister’s house, at Lorong Delta 4 where this hotel is located and where this coffee shop was at one time. Unfortunately, for reasons unknown, it was not open so the doting aunt went back there the following day to get her a pack…

Chao Da Roll

…and send it to the house.

I am not sure but I think this is their chao da (burnt) roll. While my girl was enjoying it, she did mention that the imitation crab stick was lightly burnt on the  outside. Ah well!!! Everybody is so into burnt cheesecake these days so what’s stopping them from burning more stuff to eat? LOL!!! I checked the menu on their Facebook page and I must say that at RM12.00 something for 8, they sure do not come cheap – for two of those, you can have a more filling and more satisfying plate of kampua mee.

Moving on from there, one morning, I was rummaging through the fridge and I saw a bit of the brown rice noodles that we had and a bit of some buckwheat noodles that my girl did try that day with the salad to see if it was compatible or not. The sum of the two would be enough for one plate of noodles so I took them and fried them char kway teow style…

Fried brown rice & buckwheat noodles

…with some chopped garlic in a bit of oil, two prawns, soy sauce according to taste and some of my missus’ pounded chili dip, taugeh (bean sprouts) and egg, served garnished with a sprinkling of chopped daun sup (Chinese celery).

My! My! That sure was as good as it looked and I enjoyed it very much! I wouldn’t mind frying noodles this same way again, you can take my word for it.