Just one time…

Believe it or not, I had pulut kuning (yellow glutinous rice) just one time before and that was in 1986 when I was attending a one-year TESL (Teaching of English as a Second Language) specialist’s course at the Language Institute, Lembah Pantai in KL.

I would venture far and wide on weekends, using the mini buses to get around. I think it was only 50 sen any distance in any direction and one Saturday, I was around the vicinity of the Jaya Supermarket in Petaling Jaya. I liked to hang around there and once I met Sheila Majid in person! Too bad selfies were not the in-thing at that time or I sure would have had one taken with her. She was very small though, pint-sized – I bet I would look like a giant beside her.

One Saturday, I decided to walk around the shops in the area to see if I could find anything of interest and not far from the mall, I came across a coffee shop with a simple stall serving peranakan/nyonya dishes including pulut kuning. I was very familiar with nasi kuning (yellow rice) or whatever you call it but that was the first time I had seen anybody cooking it using pulut (glutinous rice). Needless to say, I simply must give that a try so I had it for my lunch with a curry dish and oh boy! It was so good!!!

I did not know then its significance in the Malay culture. I read in one website that it is used as a special dish in the celebration (happy ceremony) of a marriage, a birth or a circumcision, the Khatam Quran and any feast of thanksgiving. I never came across it ever again though so that was the one time when I ate that and enjoyed it so much.

Well, it so happened that last Sunday morning, after our early morning church service and our breakfast after that, I dropped by here to see if I could get hold of any of their very nice laksam. As expected, they were all sold out – one would have to go real early as they open at around 7.00 a.m. and all would be gone by around 8 or 9.00 a.m.

There were just a few plastic containers of whatever things they were selling left and among them, I spotted this…

– I was attracted by the yellow colour and much to my delight, it was pulut kuning with chicken rendang

…just one tub of that left, selling for RM5.00 only and of course, without a second thought, I grabbed it straight away.

Despite having had our breakfast already, I could not wait to get home to give it…

…a try and yes, it was so so good!!! I certainly would make my way back there soon to grab some more to enjoy, that’s for sure!

In the meantime, my missus harvested some more of her terung Dayak/assam

…and she gave some to our immediate neighbour. I saw one more in the tree, a big one yet to completely ripen and many small ones, all still green. We certainly are looking forward to more and it is good that they grow and ripen slowly but steadily, not a whole lot at one go.

NASI KERABU ASLI KELATE (2.311303, 111.820699) is located to the extreme left of the stalls at Pelangi Food Kiosks…

…in front of Wisma Azra, Jalan Kampung Nangka.

Pathetic…

Ever since I fell out with love with the nasi lemak here, I have yet to stumble upon one that is really good except for this one that they sell in little packets

…at the neighbourhood fruit & vegetables sundry shop in the next lane from my house for just RM1.50 each.

No, it will not sweep anybody off their feet but the rice is not hard and dry and I can detect a hint of the lemakness (richness) of the santan (coconut milk) which is something I really cannot say about all the nasi lemak that I’ve tried here, there and everywhere. Perhaps there are good ones somewhere but so far, I have not come across any that is worth going back for more, not even one. Truth be told, I might as well be eating plain white rice with the sambal and it would pretty much be the same.

Sad to say, though the one in those little packets has a bit of the coveted taste, I would say that the added condiments in each of them are a sorry sight…

You will get TWO peanuts, ONE slice of cucumber and a few miserable ikan bilis (dried anchovies). No, don’t dream of getting any hard-boiled egg in it, not even a few thin strips of omelette…and as if that is not pathetic enough, they seem to be getting a bit stingy with the sambal. There is barely enough to mix with the rice adequately…

I am quite sure it wasn’t that bad before.

There used to be more when it was wrapped in brown paper…

…but of course, they were selling it at RM2.00 a packet at the time. Frankly, I do not mind it one bit if they raise the price a bit, provided they do not scrimp on the ingredients so pathetically.

At one time, they were selling these RM5.00 packs…

…probably from a different source but it was nice too and no, I did not complain! Unfortunately, I never saw those ever again – probably, most of the other customers did not think it was worth spending RM5.00 on that even though they were getting a whole lot of stuff inside, chicken nuggets even and yet, they willingly part with that kind of money for a plate of kampua mee with a few paper-thin slices of boiled meat coloured red to make them look like char siew!

Well, as they say, beggars can’t be choosers so until I find one that is worthy of its name, nasi lemak, I shall just have to be happy with this one. I wish they would raise the price a bit though – after all, EVERYTHING is increasing in prices like it is never ever gonna stop…and make each packet a bit more presentable, less pathetic.

SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441) is located along Jalan Ruby, in the block of shops on the right – next to a hair salon at the extreme end…and on the other end, to the left is the Kim Won Chinese Medical Store and Mini-supermarket.

I wasn’t there…

One of the three schools where I taught – the one where I retired in 2007 after teaching there for 15 years, celebrated her 120th Anniversary last Saturday night. I was invited but I decided not to go.

I cannot imagine parking my car in the multi-storey car park and then walking all the way to the lifts on a certain floor and taking one to the floor where the event was being held and walking all the way to the ballroom…and everytime I had to go to the washroom, I would have to walk so far from one end of the building to the other – usually, the ballroom and the washroom on any particular floor are located far apart.

A lot of people were taken by surprise – I suppose they do not read my blog or they would have come across all the hints about my condition for quite sometime now…and the nasty fall that I had so I am not all that keen on venturing very far all that much these days. My sister was there – she studied Form 6 in that school and she accepted the ang pao from the School Board of Directors for retired teachers and staff members over the years…

…on my behalf. It sure is nice to know that I have not been forgotten, not a case of out of sight, out of mind…after all the blood, sweat and tears that I put into the years of service in that school, thank you all so much!

I guess now, I can afford to go and buy a few kilos of the buah dabai (black olives)…

…to enjoy. LOL!!! The ones from Durin that I bought the other day from the nearby shop round the corner from my house were really good but I only grabbed half a kilo, enough for a day – two meals.

I was telling some people about how difficult it is to bring the fruit over to West Malaysia even when you are carrying it in an open bag by hand all the way. You have to wrap it in newspapers (they seem to work wonders in preserving the fruit, don’t ask me how or why) and you cannot simply throw it in your suitcase or box, hand carried or checked-in. Needless to say, wrapping it up and sending it by courier service is totally out of the question.

Long, long ago, the fruit was available in Central Sarawak only (amazing how so many things were found here only and not in other parts of the state) but these days, they have planted the trees here, there and everywhere so it is now sold in the other towns and cities. Recently, word had it that the fruits from trees around Kapit and Song had come out. I saw on Facebook people selling the dabai from Song at RM40.00, RM45.00 or RM50.00 a kilo. Theirs are reputed to be nicer, the best of the best, so to speak. The ones I bought that day came from Durin, lower down the river, nearer to Sibu and they were only RM38.00 a kilo.

We loved it a lot, my girl especially, so I went back to the shop in the hope of getting some more. “Come tomorrow!” they told me. “None today!” The next day, it was the same ol’ story and the next and the next… Somebody told me to go and get those from the Sibu Central Market where they were selling them at that same price. In the end, after so many futile attempts to get them at the shop, we made our way to the market.

My missus managed to buy half a kilo from an ex-student of mine in Chung Hua, Ing Hua, who has been selling fruits at the market all these years. I would buy dabai from him only, nobody else and he knew if what he was selling was good or otherwise. If what he had for a certain day was not that great, he would go and get from the others selling dabai at the market as well.

That day, my missus said that he took out some hidden somewhere underneath all the baskets and boxes and he gave all of them to her, more than half a kilo, he said but he took only RM25.00 in payment – it was RM50.00 a kilo. She never asked him whether they came from Song or elsewhere.

Of course, we could not wait to prepare a handful…

…for dinner that evening, tossed in a bit of soy sauce and brown sugar like what I did the other day. They turned out to be so very good, almost like the Durin ones that day – very rich (lemak), the flesh yellowish in colour and the skin, very thin…

It would have been even better if the flesh had been a bit thicker but on the whole, if these were nicer, the difference would be so minimal that it would be very difficult to tell.

My missus managed to buy a bundle of daun empasa (tapioca/cassava leaves) or what we call daun bandong, or daun ubi as they call it in the peninsula and cooked that to enjoy with the buah dabai

…and yes, it was so good, a whole lot nicer than what they serve at a few places serving such local ethnic dishes here in town. Frankly, this is my kind of food, what I truly enjoy having for our meals and it would take quite a bit of self control to refrain from going for a second plate of rice!

We’re so good together…

I used to enjoy eating Quaker oats, boiled till nice and mushy and sweetened with condensed milk. Eventually, they came out with the instant version where we just need to add hot water, no need for any boiling for a prolonged period of time.

I don’t know when or why I stopped eating it but I always enjoyed those rich and creamy oats cookies/biscuits from Jacobs and anyway, it is not easy to get hold of condensed milk here these days – what they are selling everywhere are sweetened creamers made from palm oil, not cow’s milk.

It so happened that I read somewhere that if I take three tablespoons of oats every day for a month, it will help lower my cholesterol. Remembering how I used to enjoy eating that, I made my way to one of the neighbourhood shops to buy a pack. Yes, they have Quaker but the instant ones and I think I saw somewhere that those aren’t as great.

In the end, I settled for a pack of these organic rolled oats…

…which I have to boil for quite sometime before they become mushy and soggy enough to be eaten.

Of course, I cannot add any condensed milk as I am supposed to stay away from dairy products as well. Needless to say, they are not very palatable, bland and quite a chore to eat and at times, I added a little bit of honey or our low GI gula apong (nipah sugar) but even so, after a while, I, more or less, gave up.

I told my sister about it and she went and ordered this huge pack of dried cranberries…

…for me. It’s from the same people who came out with these sambals that my dear friend, Mandy, sent me sometime ago. I am not supposed to eat those because like raisins, they are soaked in sugar syrup before drying so the sugar content is very high – I can’t eat raisins either!

However, my sister said that cranberries are good for the kidneys so I can mix a bit with my oats for the sweetness and also the delightful taste of the cranberries would make it a lot easier for me to eat the oats.

I tried cooking just a bit with the three tablespoons of oats…

…in low fat milk (it is all right for me to drink that)…

…till it is mushy and soggy…

…and it turned out to be rather nice – I love the taste of the cranberries and there is a hint of sweetness in the oats that makes it a lot easier to eat.

My sister said that I can eat it on alternate days, no need to eat it every day if I am worried about the sugar and incidentally, perhaps I can buy a can of sweetened creamer to add to the oats sometimes – after all, it is not a dairy product so except for the sweetness, it should be fine for me…once in a while. What do you all think?

This is for me…

I guess some of you may remember that I just bought the kacangma chicken…

from here around a week or so ago and I did mention in the post that I saw the two ladies (my missus & my sister) enjoying it to the max while I did not touch it myself for fear that its high alcoholic content might be bad for my kidneys.

I do not know if that was the cause of the poonek or in Malay, the keempunan (You can read all about the traditional Malay/Melanau superstition here) that led to my fall that sent me sprawling on the ground in front of a coffee shop here. Four boys ran out of the shop to help me up but to no avail. I managed to grab a chair within reach to pull myself up and get on my feet again. Luckily, other than some aches and pain on the left side of my body where it hit the ground, there were no bruises, no fractures, nothing that a bit of massage using the Cap Tiga Kaki balsam could not help.

I was all right again after three days or so and I went back to buy some more of the kacangma chicken…

…and of course, this time, I made sure that I had a piece of the meat myself. As you can see in the photographs, they will give you three huge chunks of meat in each serving, just nice for a group of 3 but if there are more than 3 of you, you probably would have to share or order another serving so there will be enough to go round.

As far as I know, this is the only place in town where we can buy this Hakka specialty for ladies in confinement, convalescing after having given birth. It is easily available in Kuching – I have seen it among the options at one chap fan (mixed rice) place even but of course, those would not be so generous with the motherwort (kacangma) leaves, the ginger and the pek chiew (white wine) and would not be anything to shout about. Here, if we do not buy it here, we would just have to cook our own at home and yes, my missus does that sometimes.

Going back to that day when we had this for our lunch, I also bought some ikan keli (catfish)…

…and because my girl seemed to enjoy it so much, I just took a small piece, the tail end, and let her enjoy it all by herself. I bought two servings this second time around so there was enough for me as well. My sister loves it too but my missus, for reasons unknown, would not touch it with a 10-foot pole.

I also bought this lamb masala

…that day for my girl, her favourite dish in their menu. She managed to finish the whole single serving in one sitting and yes, even though I should not be eating any red meat, I did have a piece of the meat to make sure there will be no recurrence of a mishap of any kind.

Along with my purchases, the very thoughtful and generous Andy gave me their guava salad…

This was the first salad on their menu that I tried the very first time I went there and I loved it but over the years, I found myself sticking to their pomelo salad and their Payung rojak all the time.

I guess I shall be dropping by again soon enough to tapao (buy and take away) some of their other dishes to take home and enjoy.

PAYUNG CAFÉ (2.284049, 111.833014)…

…is located at No.20F, Lanang Road, Sibu, Malaysia, back to back with the multi-storey car park of the Kingwood Hotel which faces the majestic Rejang River.

Not by choice…

I guess everybody knows by now that I am staying away from a lot of things, not by choice but because of health reasons. For instance, I am off red meat and I’m staying off noodles – I will eat just a bit of rice and anything made of rice e.g. bihun, kway teow and dianpianngu. and I shall have to control myself when eating those as well – a little bit is fine, not too much! Of course, I have to stay away from sugar and go low on salt. I guess it comes as no surprise that what I eat these days isn’t very appetising, not anything that I would be looking forward to at all.

I eat a lot of fruits but I have to be selective – some are too high in their sugar content, others have too much potassium and phosphorus. Sweet cakes and cookies are out which leaves very little that I can eat for breakfast or for tea in the morning. No, my weekly tests show that I do not have a problem with my blood sugar but of course, it pays to be careful when it comes to these things.

The other day, I saw them selling these tausar peah (bean paste biscuits)…

…at a coffee shop here. They said a lot of things but in Mandarin and they insisted that they were not sweet. In the end, I decided to buy some to give them a try.

They were only RM1.10 each, the skin was very flaky and very nice, not sweet at all…

…but as far as the tausar filling was concerned, even though it was not very sweet, to me, it was sweet enough to be of concern. I think I would have to spread them out, one piece a day for breakfast or tea…or less and I would give some of them away.

I also dropped by this bakery that day – they make the nicest Swiss rolls in town. My girl loves the strawberry…

…but they have not been making that since those one or two times when I managed to grab one from there. They only had the coffee/vanilla so I bought one…

…and took it home. The ladies in the house said it was very nice but of course, I was very good and kept my distance the whole time. I felt I could do without the sweetness, never mind that it was not VERY sweet.

I’m eating the buns that I bought from there though, the pandan lotus paste…

…and the butter buns…

They’re very nice and we have enjoyed eating them all this while. The filling is a little on the sweet side so just like the tausar peah, I shall have to control myself and spread them out instead of eating too many at a time.

I don’t know if it was just my imagination but things did not look too good at the bakery. It was rather dim inside – they did not switch on all the lights and the Indon helper who used to man the cashier’s counter was no longer around. They probably sent her home already.

Other than that, there were not many things available, all placed on a small table beside the door – they used to fill the shelves but this time around, whatever was available was quite limited. There was only one pack of each of the buns that I bought, for instance. I did see the nice coconut roll…

…that I bought from there once, just one, but I did not feel like having that so I did not buy that.

YAT BAKERY (2.293035, 111.835887)…

…is located along Lorong Chew Siik Hiong 1A, directly opposite Uncle Dom, at the other end of the block of shops where Sushi Tie is in the commercial centre behind the Rejang Medical Centre.

At night…

Except for Saturday evenings when we go for the sunset service in church, we hardly do anything at night these days. In other words, we just stay home and never go out at all.

We sit down for dinner at 6.00 p.m., more or less and we should be done by 6.30 or so. Then I would adjourn upstairs and have a shower before retiring for the night. No, I don’t go to sleep that early, around 7.00 p.m. but I would not want to go downstairs again – going down is easy, it is the coming up that is the uphill task! Truth be told, I am certainly no longer as agile and as mobile as before any longer.

In the meantime, I just laze around in our master bedroom and watch reruns of “The Nanny“, “The Jeffersons” and “Mr. Belvedere” on my smartphone or “Mrs. Brown’s Boys” (not screened in Malaysia) from the BBC. Funny how I used to watch those shows on TV but I cannot remember ever seeing those episodes before!

I would usually call it a day at around 9.00 p.m., earlier on some days, a bit later on others but that night, at 8 something, my dumbphone (as opposed to my smartphone, my antique NOKIA 3310, also called a brickphone) rang. It was Yan of Yan on second thoughts. She said she had just touched down, after flying in from Kuching for the long weekend (it was a public holiday here on Friday, 22nd July – Sarawak Day) and she would stop by my house on her way home to pass me a few things.

Oh dear! I was already upstairs, ready to hit the sack so I asked my girl and the mum to go out and meet her and get the things she brought. Wowwwww!!!! She brought a whole lot of goodies that she made herself! There were these delightful scones…

she did give me some before and they were so so so good!

Other than those, there were these brioche buns…

…and pork patties…

…too.

Of course, that was red meat, not for me but I did sample a bit and yes, it was so very good. The ladies in the house sure enjoyed the burgers…

…to the max while I could only watch them eat…

Poor me!

Nonetheless, a big thank you so so so much to Yan, my kind and generous friend and thanks especially for going through all that trouble to make all those things yourself…and sending them over to my house. Honestly, I couldn’t ask for more!

Yes! I could not resist having a scone for breakfast the next morning and that sure appeased my constant craving for my favourite English traditional breakfast even though I had it without the clotted cream and fruit jam -the buttery fragrance was enough to sweep me off my feet!

Finally over…

It was in June 2020 when my friend/ex-student, Alex dropped by my house to give me a pineapple, a 2.5 kg nanas sawit. According to another ex-student of mine, currently in the fruit business in Kuching, this is the best variety when it comes to pineapples.

I took the crown – the spikes/leaves on top and planted that part of the fruit. Later, I heard that I would have to wait for two years before I would get to see any fruit and true enough, in May this year, after 1 year and 11 months, a little fruit FINALLY appeared. Earlier this month, we noticed that it had grown too big, so big that the plant could not support it and we had to tie strings to hold it up. Unfortunately, it wasn’t ready yet for the plucking.

Well, the other day, after all this time, way over two years, the time came and my missus went and harvested the fruit…

It had not turned completely yellow/orange but my missus was afraid that if we waited much longer, it might over-ripen and go bad inside.

Usually, when I buy pineapples from the shops, I would ask the seller to peel them for me. I don’t know if he/she will charge me for that or not – I never asked. I just happily paid the total amount before grabbing it and taking it home. I guess I did not have a choice so I had to peel it myself!

Firstly, I cut off the crown…

No, I did not bother planting that, lesson learnt! I sure would not want to wait another two years to get to enjoy the fruit.

Next, while holding on to the stump, I peeled off the skin…

…after which I cut crevices/ridges in the fruit to get rid of the “eyes”…

Once done, the pineapple will look like this…

Lastly, after cutting off the stump, I sliced it up into long slices and removed the core…and then, I cut it further into smaller pieces…

Usually, we would eat it just like that or with rojak sauce (prawn paste) or use it to cook a dish…

It was so very sweet, especially the part that had turned orange/yellow.

I went and googled and found this about pineapples: “Kidney health is extremely important, and if you want to do everything you can to keep them functioning well, incorporating pineapple into your diet is a great way to start. This delicious fruit is packed with nutrients that are beneficial for kidney health, including vitamins C and B6, manganese, and Bromelain.” Needless to say, I ate a lot of the fruit of my labour and seeing that it is good for me, I shall be going out to buy more, that’s for sure.

Make up your mind…

Last Saturday, we went out for lunch as usual.

One thing I’ve noticed about the ladies is how they always do not seem to have anything in mind all the time. When you ask them what they would like to eat, they would just say they do not know or they have no idea whatsoever. In the end, I would have to decide on behalf of everybody but the moment we get to our destination, suddenly the ideas would start pouring in!

That was the case last Saturday as well – nobody had any place in particular in mind so I said I would come to a decision all by myself. I had the very nice crusty and crispy, absolutely delicious lemon chicken (RM20.00 – the standard “new” price for their meat dishes here)…

here, my girl’s favourite, in mind. I had a feeling that they use chicken breast for this dish so it would be perfectly all right for me to eat it, no red meat involved and I was right!

Along the way, my girl asked where we were going and I told her – she sure seemed pleased with my choice of venue and when we reached our destination, I dropped them off and went to park the car before walking there myself.

The moment I sat down, the mum declared that she would want their Foochow fried noodles, wet/with sauce (RM6.00)…

…and my girl said she would like the fried glass noodles/tang hoon (RM6.50)…

Gee!!! I wonder why the latter is a bit more expensive when the serving seemed a bit smaller and there were fewer ingredients added. Perhaps, glass noodles are more expensive than regular noodles…or they would have to add an egg to fry the dish, hence the extra charge.

Of course I was quite pissed off by that! If everyone ordered their own noodle dish, then everyone would be too full to eat much else. In that case, ordering a few dishes, including the aforementioned lemon chicken to enjoy with rice, would be out of the question. Unfortunately, everyone turned a deaf ear and stuck to their decisions.

Left with no choice, I decided to order a noodle dish for myself…

…their tomato kway teow (flat rice noodles) with the much sought after, very popular ikan tapah (RM18.00)…

Yes, that was very nice. The fish was good even though it was pretty obvious that it did not come cheap (and personally, I still prefer some of my personal favourites like the siakap or the lajong).

Well, I was not going to give up that easily so I also ordered a plate of the lemon chicken to share. It was so very nice but sadly, we did not have any rice to go with its most delightful sauce and had to leave all of it behind.

This wasn’t the first time…and knowing what the ladies are like, it is definitely not going to be the last!!!

Y2K CAFE (2.294220, 111.825753)…

…is located in the Tunku Osman area, round the corner from that block of shops where the branches of AmBank & RHB Bank are located with its back entrance facing the side (right, not the main one) entrance/exit of Methodist Secondary School.

Let’s hear it for the boy…

Mdm. Lau, the owner of my favourite fish stall not far from my house, has a few young boys working for her. They are very nice and friendly, independent workers and trustworthy and ever so often, Mdm. Lau would be nowhere to be seen, leaving everything to these boys.

I like one of them in particular especially when I look at how he does his work. Whenever I buy any fish, he would ask me how I would like to cook it – it seems that there are different ways to prepare the fish depending on whether you want to deep-fry or steam it…

The other day, for instance, I bought some barramundi (ikan siakap) and like the previous time I bought one from him, he removed all the scales till completely clean – many fishmongers would not do a good job and I had to do it all over again when I got home.

After that, he proceeded to cut open the fish and gut it, removing all that was inside including that black streak inside along the middle bone – some say that’s the blood of the fish. My girl is very fussy – the instant she sees that, she will not go on eating anymore!

Finally, he will cut the fish down the middle to split it open, still attached at one end. I understand this is the butterfly cut for fish that we would like to steam…and believe it or not, he would do all this for his customers free of charge!!!

The moment I got home, all that my missus had to do was to rinse and wash the fish clean and placing it in a plate, she would steam it…

I did not stick around in the kitchen to see what else she did but I guess eventually, she would add the sauce and the ingredients before steaming it further till it was done…

Gosh!!! That was so good! It was so very sweet and fresh, very smooth and void of any fishy smell whatsoever, absolutely delicious…

…and the best part was it worked out to only around RM17-18.00 each, less than half the price of the ikan lajong we had at the restaurant that day and everyone agreed that this was a whole lot nicer and yes, we had a lot more to eat too – the fish was big enough for the three of us for lunch as well as for dinner!

There are some very popular fish like the white pomfret (ikan bawal putih) or the ikan tapah or the tilapia that they will serve you at most, if not all, the Chinese restaurants in town and a lot of people seem to like them a lot, not me…and besides, they sure do not come cheap. I would much sooner settle for this barramundi or ikan siakap and enjoy it a whole lot more without feeling the pinch.

The fish & seafood stall…

…is located to the right of CCL FRESH MINI MARKET against the wall at that 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.