Convenience…

I guess everyone knows by now that I do not usually venture very far to shop for my food supplies and other daily needs as I can get most of what I want at the nearby shops and stalls in the next lane in my neighbourhood and my favourite fish & seafood stall is pretty close by as well.

Other than the convenience, these places are not so crowded unlike some of those popular malls and supermarkets around town. They may claim that all their employees are fully vaccinated and insist on ALL their customers being fully vaccinated too before they are allowed to enter but still, their names would appear so frequently in the daily list of places where there have been positive cases. That sure is kind of worrying! It is the same with the Sibu Central Market and at the time of writing, it is closed because there have been a lot of cases there, so I was told.

I do not usually go early in the morning as I’ve noticed a lot of shoppers doing their marketing for the day at that time, not only ladies but men too, some of whom have just finished their regular morning jog/walk obviously. I cannot understand why they have to do it every day – I would grab a whole lot each time I go out and dump everything in the house and my missus would do the same so we would not have to go out so often. My cousin in KK called me that day and I assured him that we would have no problem with food whatsoever as we have so much in store at home – like a kedai runcit (grocery store), he said. LOL!!!

I would stock up on things for breakfast too as we jolly well can’t be eating instant noodles all the time and I am cutting down on sweet cakes, biscuits, cookies and crackers. That is why I would buy bread and buns and mantao and steamed paos…

…all of which are easily available in the aforementioned shops and talking about the paos, they are RM2.20 each now, an increase of 20 sen since the pandemic broke out but they have insisted on each pao being wrapped in a plastic bag…

…so they would not be lying there, all exposed, waiting for somebody to buy and I do know of some people who have this horrible habit of poking everything or touching and taking something and then putting it back. I simply do not understand why they must do that – the vegetable seller (the old man in the afternoon) complained to me once about his bruised tomatoes, the result of people taking and pressing them one by one. Of course, nobody would want to buy them anymore!

Anyway, back to the paos, I would buy a few and keep in the fridge to steam and heat up for my breakfast when I get up in the morning. These days, I like to boil an egg and cut it into wedges and push them into the paos…

I so love egg in my paos.

There are quite a lot of things I can buy at that same shop for breakfast or tea and other than that, I can also drop by the coffee shop to the left of the block of shops on the left and tapao something home like what I did the other morning. The chu-char stall is at the back so I can go and order through the back door. That way, I do not have to go through the whole coffee shop which means that I can avoid any physical/close contact with any fellow human beings who may be there at the time.

That day, I bought this char pek koi/fried rice cake (RM5.00)…

…for my girl. She does enjoy it and now that we do not go out to eat here, there and everywhere these days, she will not get to eat it unless I buy it home for her. Yes, she loved it but the serving was a bit too big for her to handle so she saved half of it…

…for her lunch that day.

I got the Foochow fried noodles, the moon version (RM4.50)…

…for the mum and yes, it was good too.

Of course, by the time I got home, it would have soaked up all the sauce/gravy…

…but it did not matter. Sometimes. these noodles taste even nicer when they have absorbed the sauce/gravy – it will make them tastier! Yes, like the daughter, she could not finish all of it too so she put aside the rest for her lunch.

No, I did not buy anything for myself. I usually wake up very early, around 3 or 4 something in the morning. I’ve noticed that some of you are up and about around that same time too, already active on Facebook and may, at times, leave a comment in my blog even. Of course I must have my breakfast so usually I will see what I can eat in the house and that morning, I tried this instant mi goreng and with the added egg and sausage, I was already too full for anything else.

Of course, there may be things that are not available at those aforementioned stalls and shops. For instance, cheddar cheese is easily available, block or slices and cream cheese too but if you are looking for parmesan and the rest, I’m afraid you will have to go elsewhere. I guess at a time like this, we will just have to learn to live without certain things and make do with what we can get while making safety our priority at all times – #staysafe #staywell.

SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441) is located along Jalan Ruby, in the block of shops on the right – next to The Bethel Hair Salon at the extreme end and on the other end, to the left is the Kim Won Chinese Medical Store and Mini-supermarket while AH KAU CAFE (2.316346, 111.839861) is located in the same block as Kim Tak Mini Supermarket, to the extreme left.

Not for everyone…

In my post the other day, I was talking about this brand and range of instant noodles…

…and how that Korean guy on Youtube picked it as his favourite instant noodles in Malaysia and my ex-student who went and tried agreed with him and was praising it to the skies.

That was why when my missus went out last Friday to the neighbourhood shops in the next lane from our house to stock up on food and other necessities, I asked her to look for it…

…in the hope that they were selling it and I would be able to give it a try as well. Much to my delight, she came home not with one, but TWO packs of the noodles.

At RM5.50 for a pack of only 4, that works out to almost RM1.40 a packet so comparatively, I would say that it is not all that cheap. Inside, there are three sachets…

– one with the paste, obviously the sambal or the rempah, one with the seasoning and garnishing and the third one with the creamer.

I boiled two of the New Zealand mussels…

left over from the other day and used the stock for the soup. I threw in the mi tarek (pulled noodles) and the contents of the three sachets.

Once done, I poured everything into a bowl and served with the two mussels by the side and the vegetable fritters, the ladies’ fingers and the brinjal from our garden, from our previous night’s dinner, sprinkled some chopped daun sup (Chinese celery) on top and served…

And now, the moment of truth! Frankly, I could not see what was so special about the mi tarek as they came across as what they were – instant noodles, nothing more, nothing less and the garnishing in the sachet of seasoning was just a few bits of thinly-sliced red chili – no spring onion, no fried shallot.

On the other hand, I absolutely loved the taste! It was bursting with the flavours and the fragrances of whatever went into the sambal/rempah and I did enjoy it…

…initially. I would say I had never had anything quite like it. I wouldn’t say it was too lemak – I thought it was just right but still, towards the end, I started to feel that I probably should have just used half the contents of the sachets or added a little bit more water. After all, it was a little bit too salty for my liking too and yes, it was VERY spicy. Considering that I actually love things spicy, perhaps this may be a bit too much for some people to handle.

When the ladies got up that morning, they too wanted to try so I told them to share one packet. True enough, they enjoyed it very much and no, they did not think it was spicy at all. They said that the Korean ones they ate before were a lot worse. Furthermore, they did not get the effects of the Economics Law of Diminishing Returns like in my case whereby towards the end, I did not think I was enjoying it all that much.

The good and the bad…

It takes all kinds to make the world – there are the good and unfortunately, there are also the bad. Let’s look at some of the people around us, for instance. Some are very kind, honest and very generous while others may lie through their teeth to get us to buy whatever they are selling. Don’t we know them all?

These days, many people shop online and I am no exception. I did make a number of purchases that went perfectly well like here, here or here and in that last post, I mentioned how I bought those 4XL t-shirts and what I got in the end were way too small for me and I could not use them at all.

Well, the other day, I shared a photo of these pek guek tong chiew peah (8th Month Mid-Autumn Festival biscuits)…

…our traditional Foochow Mooncake Festival biscuits that I had bought, on Facebook and grumbled away that they had increased the price by 50 sen to RM6.50 this year. I did buy the last 3 packs from last year…

…in January for only RM6.00 each.

My cousin in Kuching said that she bought it online, never mind the price since she was craving for it. Obviously she had to pay a lot more than what I had to fork out for mine. Unfortunately, when her order came, this…

…was what she received.

I do know this Sarikei brand, same as the aforementioned, very well and I do enjoy some of their products that are very well-marketed and well-distributed. In fact, they were available in Kuching too but when they told me that some years back and I saw some photographs of the ones at some shops in Padungan, I told them not to bother as they did not MENGANDUNGI LEMAK BABI (contain pork fat). I did buy it myself before, probably by mistake, and I found that it was rather hard, not nice and crumbly and sweeter plus it did not have that lard fragrance so of course, I never bought it again.

The thing was this…

…was what the seller displayed for all to see. Anyone would be able to tell from the double happiness character(s) in the middle that this was a different brand altogether and the seller had excluded the top part of the pack with the brand name from the photograph and in the pack that my cousin received, the phrase MENGANDUNGI LEMAK BABI wasn’t there plus it was not in the list of ingredients either.

To give her the benefit of the doubt, however, perhaps she is one of those who are not really familiar with these things and since they are from the same place (Sarikei) and the price tag is exactly the same, when one is not available, the other one will do. The packaging looks quite similar even!

Of course, my cousin was pissed off by this whole episode and actually, she said she paid double of what I paid for mine. I guess that 9.9 was the price – the seller sure makes a lot for every pack sold – and with the postal/delivery charges, the total was a lot more than that. I think my cousin did make a complaint to the online shopping website concerned – I hope they will blacklist the seller. If you want to go into business, the onus is on you to know your stuff and make customer satisfaction your priority. It’s not all about making money, lots of it! The likes of these sure give online shopping a bad name!!!

Well, if anyone around here is keen on buying the made-in-Sarikei ones that I like…

…they are available at the shop in the next lane from my house or at this bakery in town. Do be on the alert, however, and check before buying because I did notice then, dunno now, that for reasons unknown, there were two varieties (same brand) sold at the bakery – one with lard and the other without.

Kim Won Chinese Medical Store and Mini-supermarket is located on the left of the block of shops to the right along Jalan Ruby, with Swee Hung (2.316161, 111.840441) and the Bethel Hair Salon at the other end on the right.

Handmade…

My sister was telling me about how she would buy the mini-mee kua/mee pok these days because the regular ones would be too much for her to finish on her own.

I remember seeing this…

…at one of the shops in the next lane in our neighbourhood so I decided to grab one, selling at RM7.80 for a 1 kilo pack…

…to give it a try.

One thing I noticed quite obviously was how these noodles are rather pale/white, not yellow like the traditional mee kua or regular mee pok but yes, the noodles are nicely rolled up into very small rolls…

…unlike the regular mee kua/mee pok these days…

Not only are those no longer round, more oblong in shape but they are huge! One piece is definitely enough for two plates/servings, maybe even three.

I decided to cook some the other morning and because they are somewhat small, I took three, thinking that I would need that many to make up one plate for one person.

I still have some Bovril in the fridge so of course, I cooked the noodles with that in the usual way

I only added half a tablespoon of Bovril and a teaspoon of dark soy sauce plus a pinch of msg as I did not expect the noodles to expand so much and yes, it did take a long time to cook, not like when we cook instant noodles.

I would say that one roll would be enough or if one is a big eater and is in a ravenous mood, two would be fine. Three…

…is definitely enough for two, if not three, servings.

If I had known, I would have added more of the Bovril and dark soy sauce for a stronger taste but as it was, I thought it was a bit on the mild side but it was nice too, eaten with my missus’ own blended chili and garlic dip.

Well, it so happened that I dropped by my sister’s house that day and she took out the ones she had bought and wanted to give me a pack. Of course, I did not take it from her but hers were made in Sarikei and were packed in somewhat plain plastic packs, no label, no colour whereas these that I bought were made in Sibu…

Kim Won Chinese Medical Store and Mini-supermarket is located along Jalan Ruby, to the left of the block of shops on the right – with SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441) and BETHEL HAIR SALON at the other end of that same block.

Peanuts…

During my growing up years, come Chinese New Year, my dad would order two things through his friends or business associates in Singapore – bak kua (barbecued meat slices) and menglembu groundnuts.

I do not know what brand the bak kua was but I do recall it being wrapped in layers and layers of white paper with its blood red label stuck to the front. The menglembu groundnuts came in a big cylindrical tin, taller than the LARGE tin of Milo and there was a picture of a bearded Chinese farmer carrying a cangkul (hoe) over his shoulder and a bunch of groundnuts in the other hand…

Those were things that we could not get anywhere in Sibu or anywhere else around here so of course, we would look forward to the festival as that was the only time in the year when we could get to enjoy them. Nowadays, bak kua is so common that it no longer draws that much attention and as for those groundnuts, we do have them still but I do not think I’ve seen that aforementioned brand around here.

Well, I was in one of the shops in my neighbourhood the other day and I saw a box of these…

Yes, I bought these a few times before from some other place, one of the supermarkets but I never took note of the price. I was somewhat surprised that it was not expensive – RM12.00 for 36 of these small packets…

…a little over 30 sen each. My girl enjoys eating them and she would help herself to a packet or two each time until it all runs out.

People these days are so pampered, so spoilt – they do not even have to crack the shell to get the nuts out to eat. All they have to do is to open a pack and start munching…

…away and because they come in these very convenient small packets, you do not have to worry about the nuts masuk angin (going limp) while you are enjoying yourself unlike those that come in tins…

These remind me of the packets of peanuts that they would give you when you fly on our national airline…

Actually, I have heard stories of people asking for more – they sure seemed to be rather popular and if you were lucky enough to get some tea or coffee spilt on you, to make up for it, the cabin crew would give you one big bag of it to take home and enjoy.

If I am not mistaken, those airline ones were from Tong Garden but these are the products of this popular brand…

I was quite put off by those people once a long long time ago when I used to buy their menglembu groundnuts quite frequently to enjoy. I noticed this statement at the back of the pack – FOR EXPORT TO SABAH AND SARAWAK ONLY but I could not see the reason why they said that until I bought home a packet while I was in KL or somewhere in West Malaysia. When I compared the groundnuts, those sold here were very much smaller and I was so pissed off. That was downright discrimination and to think that we are all in the same country! I refused to buy it anymore and told everybody else here to boycott it as well.

Yes, they still sell them at the shops and supermarkets but I have not bought any for a long time so I don’t know if they still say that at the back of every pack or not. I most certainly hope not!!!

We need a lot more happiness…

At a time like this, we sure need a lot more happiness and that may come about through little gestures that may mean a lot to those who are #stayingsafe #stayingwell #stayinghome.

When I bought the ikan terubok (toli shad)…

…from my favourite fish & seafood stall that day, I thought of my aunt, my mum’s cousin, in the kampung. This fish seems rather hard to come by these days and my mum, when she was still around, enjoyed it so much so I was thinking that my aunt would love it too.

That was why that day, I took one of those that I bought and panggang-ed (baked) it…

…with the intention of sending it over to her house for her to enjoy.

Unfortunately, it poured cats and dogs that morning right through till the afternoon and I did not fancy going out in the rain. That was why I abandoned the plan and we ate the fish ourselves. Well, last Friday, the weather was very good, bright and sunny, so I quickly took out one of the fish to defrost, rub salt and pepper on it, wrap it in aluminum foil lined with daun kunyit (turmeric leaves) and put it in my Tatung pot to bake.

It did not take very long – after around half an hour, the fragrance of the fish filled the whole house so I switched off the fire and left it in the pot for another fifteen minutes to continue cooking in the residual heat. My missus said that once we could smell it, it would be an indication that it was cooked already.

I called my aunt to make sure she was home and I drove over to pass the fish to her. Of course, she was delighted – the radiant smile on her face said it all…and no, she did not let me go home empty-handed.

It so happened that some people in the kampung managed to get hold of these kulat ta’un

…and she managed to get her share. We call these mushrooms chicken mushroom (kaybak ko) in Hokkien because when we cook soup with them, it tastes just like chicken soup! They are more or less extinct now – the last time I saw some was way back in 2011 and I cooked the little that we got for my mum to enjoy and because there wasn’t a lot to go round, I did not get to eat it myself!

My aunt said that she got them two days ago and she cooked half already and she was busy the following day doing some spring cleaning in the house so she did not cook the rest. That was why she had a bit left and when I called and said I was coming over, she said, “This fella! Memang ada rezeki makan!” Well, didn’t I blog that day about how they called me Nyangoi because of my protruding chin and someone said that I would always be blessed with things to eat? Looks like there is some truth in that, don’t you think? LOL!!!

I took the mushrooms home happily and asked my missus to cook them, fried with egg…

It may be simple to cook, nothing to it at all but it…

…is so delicious.

This was probably the first time my girl got to eat these mushrooms and yes, she loved them! Here, we can get those farmed oyster mushrooms that are easily available at the market, the ones that they use to make those mushroom rolls at Payung…

…the favourite of many but these definitely have an edge over those, definitely nicer. Too bad they are so hard to come by.

Incidentally, that morning, I saw my neighbour’s wife in their garden so I took another one of the ikan terubok to give to her. She gave me an or chio/ikan bawal hitam (black pomfret) once and yes, she sure was delighted – she said that she had not seen it for a long time and yes, she loved eating that too. From the look of it, obviously, she was very pleased to be given the fish and she kept saying thank you as she took it into the house.

Personally, I do think that it does feel good to, once in a while, share the joy and spread the love. Like what I said at the beginning of this post, at a time like this, we sure need a lot of that!

Take your time…

The ladies’ fingers…

…are getting on pretty well, steadily bearing enough fruit for us to pluck and cook and enjoy time and time again.

It was the brinjal that I was worried about the other day as nothing seemed to come out of the plants even though they were growing very well. I sought the advice of my blogger-friend, Nancy and she said that it should be bearing fruit soon…

…since it had started flowering…

…and true enough, it obviously was taking its sweet time.

Since then, it has been flowering and bearing more fruits…

…but at this point in time, they are not big enough to be harvested just yet. We will have to be a bit more patient before we can get to do that. Actually, Nancy did say that it was good that our brinjal plants had started flowering and bearing fruits already even though they were still so small so I guess we should count our blessings.

Incidentally, I have heard people calling brinjals eggplants, something I had never heard before in my growing up years during the colonial days so I went and googled to find out. Well, this website says that they are one and the same thing and brinjal is a less common term heard in countries such as India, and eggplant is used in the US and is a more common term. No wonder! We were taught British English in school, not American.

Well, the tomatoes are flowering…

…so hopefully, they too can yield a harvest soon and in the meantime, the kangkong (water spinach/water morning glory)…

…is growing well but it does not look like quite a lot. Perhaps that will be enough for a plate only but never mind! Something is better than nothing.

It definitely is a lot easier to just go and buy these vegetables and they’re inexpensive but planting our own helps keep us active and occupied during these #staysafe #staywell #stayhome times plus our own-grown vegetables are pesticide-free and we do not use any chemical fertilisers, definitely a lot safer and healthier.

Stuck together…

Sometime ago, somebody was complaining about buying noodles home or getting them delivered to the house. I do not remember whether he or she was talking about Sibu kampua or Kuching kolo or whatever mee but it is true that when you buy and take them home nicely wrapped in plastic bags like this…

…the strands of the noodles will all get stuck together and stay in that shape when you take them out especially when you buy them in the morning from here to take some place else, like to KL, for instance, to appease somebody’s craving there and he or she will only get to eat it come evening time and they will take it out and eat it while in a clump like eating a bun.

Well, I found out by accident that there is a solution to this problem. Before taking out the noodles, press them from the outside to loosen those strands and get them to come apart…

It was quite easy for me to do that as I went home straight away after buying them at the shop so they were not so “stuck” yet but had it been much later, it probably would have taken me longer to do that.

Once I was through, I emptied the noodles onto a plate and arranged the slices of meat on top and served them with a sprinkling of chopped spring onions from my garden…

There you are! Don’t you think that looks exactly like how you would get it at the shops? It certainly comes across a whole lot nicer and more appetising than what I see some bloggers eating when they buy noodles home or get them delivered to the house.

Up up and away…

I was out and about very early that morning. Usually, I would take the car out for a spin around the neighbourhood to recharge the battery but I would venture out later in the morning or mid afternoon.

I was somewhat surprised when I drove past this very popular coffee shop and saw that the customers around there at the time were rather few and far between. In the past, it was always so crowded at any time of day and it was quite difficult to get a seat and if you want to tapao (takeaway), you probably would have to wait a mighty long time. I decided to buy something home for the ladies for breakfast so I parked my car right beside the kampua mee stall and went and placed my order.

During my more recent visits, either the boss or the Indonesian helpers would be doing the cooking – very rarely would I see the lady boss taking over the helm. That morning, however, there was a young girl doing it and from what I observed and heard, she was the daughter of the boss and his wife. Oh me oh my!!! How time flies! All these years, I never saw any children around the stall and suddenly, there was one, so big already!

She took the kampua noodles…

…and threw them into the cauldron…

…with the hot boiling water.

Then she put all the ingredients in a big stainless steel bowl/basin…

– the shallot oil (lard) and the light or dark soy sauce and a sprinkling of fried shallots and chopped spring onions plus of course, the msg. They do that at most places here, toss the noodles separately before pouring them into a clean plate to serve. At places where they do not do that, you may be served something that looks quite a mess, not a pleasant sight at all.

Once the noodles were cooked, she tossed them well with the ingredients…

…and poured them into the plastic bags…

The Indonesian helper added the slices of meat, tapao-ed (wrapped) everything before collecting the money and handing them over to be taken away.

My girl loves pian sip (meat dumplings) so I also ordered those…

…for her and after cooking them in a separate cauldron, they were packed as well for me to take home…

Things used to be more expensive here than most, RM3.20 while elsewhere, they were selling for RM3.00 or even less, depending on where you go. That was why I paid the Indonesian helper RM10.00 expecting to be given the change but when she did not do that, I asked her and she told me that I would have to pay her another 50 sen. The lady boss came over and told me that the prices had increased to RM3.50 now. Oh dear!!! I can’t say I was surprised though because that is what I have seen all round lately, the prices of virtually everything going up, up and away!!!

Thankfully, the ladies enjoyed what I bought for them. My missus said that both the kampua mee and the pian sip were great and she really enjoyed them especially when she had not had any for a long long time. When I told her about the increase in price, she said that she was not surprised either as there seemed to be a lot more meat…

…unlike before and they were a bit more generous with the noodles than elsewhere.

As far as I am concerned, as long as what they dish out is very nice, value for money, a little increase in price at a time like this is only to be expected. I did not bring along my tiffin carrier – it is in the boot of my Ol’ Faithful (the Wira) and I was not using it that morning. That was why I rushed home right away to take everything out of the plastic bags – I did not feel that comfortable, all that hot stuff wrapped in plastic. Maybe I should get another tiffin carrier, one in the boot of each car.

SOON HOCK CAFE & RESTAURANT (2.312181, 111.845824) is located among the Delta Mall/Jalan Pedada area of shops, facing the Methodist church along Lorong Taman Seduan 8, off Jalan Gambir

Lady’s choice…

There was a discussion not too long ago in Rose’s blog about the peanut butter one would prefer, the brand and whether one would like it creamy or crunchy and it sure took me by surprise to read that the one from Lady’s Choice…

…is made in China…

All this time, I thought it was made in Malaysia and since it was the favourite of many who participated in the discussion, I made up my mind to buy a jar to try.

I don’t remember which Malaysian brand I bought once and it was not to my liking so I never bought any local-made peanut butter again. I was somewhat surprised that day when I saw so many new brands of peanut butter, probably Malaysian, at the shop that I had never heard of nor seen before. Well, my mind was made up – I wanted Lady’s Choice and Lady’s Choice it had to be. As far as this brand was concerned, we only bought the mayonnaise, nothing else.

When I opened the jar…

…I was a bit disappointed to see the “bubbles” when it should have been smooth. Probably there is a need for better quality control…or what I got was the odd one out.

I had some chia seed bread so I toasted a slice on a non-stick pan and generously applied a layer of butter…

…before adding the peanut butter…

…on top of that. I have always liked my peanut butter creamy, not crunchy and no, I am not into those with streaks of jam, thank you very much.

Yes, I thought it was nice and at RM15.80 a jar, it does seem to be a little cheaper than the other brands that I’ve bought before. I guess I shall stick to this one from now on.