Where’d you go…

In my post the other day, I blogged about the outbreak at the Pasai Siong cluster and how Sibu came to be declared a red zone. There were 37 cases initially and over 90 cases in the subsequent two days and almost 150 cases the third day, over 400 cases already at the time of writing.

This is so very shocking and that is not all. Using MySejahtera, they are able to keep track of where you go and that was what they did in the cases of those tested positive. Every day, they would release lists of places those people had been to and one of them in the list is this shop…

Kim Tak

…in my neighbourhood.

This was once very popular because of the availability of most anything and everything and the competitive prices so much so that come Chinese New Year, people would come from miles around and the road would be jammed and you would see all the cars parked all along the side of the narrow road.

It is not as popular now – as a matter of fact, it has been downsized a bit. I, for one, would buy my eggs there and once in a while, I may pick up a loaf of bread or  a thing or two. I think I am more of a regular at the fruit and food shop at the end of the other block to the right and thankfully, it is not in the list.

It seems that somebody dropped by this particular shop on a certain day (if I remember correctly, it was on 10th January, Sunday) at 2 something in the afternoon, a rather unusual time to be shopping – probably just stopping by to grab something and if you happened to be there on the same day and especially around that same time, you would have to go for a swab test to make sure that you had not been infected.

No, that was the day of my sister’s birthday gathering in the evening and we were here for lunch and at home the rest of the time so we did not go there. I can’t remember when I went there, possibly a few days earlier to stock up on eggs, canned food, instant noodles and everything when the number of cases in the country was mounting and I had a feeling that there was going to be a lockdown.

I bought two packs of these Malaysian-made biscuits…

TIGER susu

…that I do enjoy a lot. When my bed-ridden mum was still around, on days when she did not have an appetite, we would give her these, the susu ones. I guess that is all carbs and sugar but at least, she would be eating something, better than nothing.

At the same time, I also picked up a pack of the original…

TIGER original

For one thing, they’re a whole lot cheaper than those imported biscuits which are super expensive and may not be that great. The ladies in the house bought me those celebrated Scottish shortbread for Christmas, almost RM20.00 a box and only a few pieces inside…plus they did not seem to be as nice as before. They got me two boxes, almost RM50.00 – with that kind of money, they could have got me a roast chicken or a roast duck and still have change and I would enjoy it a whole lot more.

Talking about shortbread, my cousin in Melbourne says these Foochow  shortbread – that’s what she calls them, the Mooncake Festival biscuits (pek guek tong chiew peah)…

Foochow Mooncake Festival biscuits

…are anytime nicer than the Scottish ones. Well, they are nice, especially the ones with the lovely fragrance and taste of lard and I happened to be at the shop in the block next to the aforementioned (this one was not on the list) early on Monday morning…and thank goodness I did not hop next door to look around. There were only three packets left, probably leftovers from the festival earlier last year, expiring on the 31st…so I grabbed all of them to enjoy. After all, we would not be getting anymore until the festival this year…that is if things get better and return to normal, more or less and we shall be able to get them again.

The business owners of all those places were supposed to close for 14 days and have them sanitised from top to bottom but I don’t think many of them would bother. The only thing we can do in the light of things in this present situation would be to just stay home and if, for whatever reason we simply have to go out, we must make sure we have our masks on at all times, sanitise often and wash our hands thoroughly…and bathe once we get home. Better be safe than sorry!!!

I’ll try anything…

I blogged about these leaves…

Daun hempedu bumi 1

…a few times before like here in 2016 , for instance or here in 2008. You can click those links to read all about them.

They are still growing in abundance here and there all over my garden, at times flourishing and doing very well while at other times, they seem to be struggling to stay alive and I really do not know why. All I can do is to sit back and watch and hope for the best.

Well, it so happened that I stumbled upon this Bloomberg article that reported that Thailand’s health ministry had approved the use of the herbal plant extract to treat early stages of Covid-19  as an alternative treatment to reduce the severity of the outbreak and at a time like this, I’ll try anything!

I used to pluck them to brew tea with them and drink loyally without fail every day but lately, I have not been that motivated even when I see a lot sprouting here and there and growing beautifully…

Daun hempedu bumi 2

In Chinese (Hokkien), we say “ching pui“, meaning very fat or very fertile.

After reading that article about what is happening in Thailand, I am inspired once again to go back to my daily ritual and yes, I  have been plucking those leaves every morning now and drinking the tea.

I seem to notice evidences of flowers and seeds appearing which, I’m afraid, is not a good sign. When there is too much of these, those plants will not thrive so well and it will be difficult to find big succulent leaves for my morning tea. The only consolation is I’ve seen new plants sprouting out elsewhere so hopefully, there will not be a break in the chain and fingers crossed, I will not run out of those leaves eventually.

Benefits…

In my recent posts, I mentioned how I was plucking my butterfly pea flowers all along the fence at the back of my house and giving them to my friends at Payung and also to another friend who said she wanted them.

Somebody commented somewhere that I could make tea with them as they would be good for my eyes. Well, I have no problem with my eyes, not dependent on glasses still even at 68 going on 69 but anyway, I went and googled and came across this link that listed the health benefits of these flowers

Health beenefits of the butterfly pea flower

I also read somewhere that I must pluck the flowers or else they will wither and grow seeds and the leaves will not grow well. No wonder I noticed that my plants were not looking too good, all the dead vines, all dried up, with lots of seeds dangling from them. Ever since I have been plucking them every day and drying them…

Butterfly pea flowers, ready for drying

…the leaves have started to grow pretty well and generally, it is looking good again. Another thing that struck me is how after plucking all the flowers in a day, they would bloom with a vengeance the very next day and I would be getting more and more!

According to my friends at Payung, they could keep them in the fridge for a few days but I guess because I have been sending a whole lot to them every day, I heard they have resorted to boiling them in water to get the colour and storing that for use eventually when they cook their nasi kerabu. They probably can use them to brew tea to serve to customers but at a terrible time like this in our current deplorable situation, around 100 cases a day, I don’t think they will have a lot of customers dropping by.

My cousin in Brisbane grows these flowers too and she says that she stores them in the freezer and takes out the number she needs to boil. She says that by boiling, one will get a bluer than blue colour and it will kill whatever toxins there may be.

To dry the petals, I would pull out the middle part…

Remove middle part

I read somewhere that that part should not be consumed. My missus said she saw online that some people may be allergic to the pollen in that part of the flower and that is why, nothing too serious. Having done that, I would arrange the petals nicely as in the above photograph to dry. If I just dump them all in a basket and put them out in the sun, they would all stick together in clumps and it would be hard to pull them apart.

I don’t know how much they are selling this at the market but I did see at a supermarket here once these dried petals being sold in small packets of 300 gm each for RM13.50. Needless to say, at the time, I was shocked by the fact that it was so expensive. However, after drying all the flowers I plucked for around a week, I can now understand why – after all this time and effort, I have only managed to collect this much…

Dried butterfly pea flowers

It is such a chore but I guess good things don’t come easy.

What a day…

In the peninsula, they have Tenaga Nasional (National Energy) while in Sarawak, we have our Sarawak Energy or what we still call SESCO to this day as that was what it was called before, the Sarawak Electric Supply Corporation.

I bought our house in 1988 and I don’t know what special arrangements my dad made with the former owner and all these years to this very day, we have been paying for the electricity bills issued to his name.

However, it seems that SESCO is switching to e-billing so I clicked the link and went to the website to register. The first thing they asked for was my name (according to my MyKad) and I hesitated – should I just type my name or the former owner’s name? In the end, I decided to go and change it once for all to avoid any complications in future.

I contacted my ex-student from a previous school, now an officer at SESCO, Sibu and she told me to go over to the office which I did. When I got there, she said that she had checked the contract and found out that the guy, wherever he is now (after he sold the house to me, I heard that he moved to Johore to manage a bank there), has a lot of contracts to his name (I guess he owns a lot of property) so they cannot transfer his deposit to me – I would have to have a new contract drawn up registered in my name.

Everything went well – I had to pay the deposit (RM500.00) plus another RM150.00 connection charges for meter fee and RM10.00 stamping fee. They told me they would come to my house to fix a new meter…

New SESCO meter

…a digital one, the following morning – the existing meter was as old as the hills. Ah yes! My ex-student gave me another complimentary umbrella, the same as the one she gave me sometime ago when I went to the office regarding my auto debit and yes, they registered for me so I shall get my bills via email from now on.

The next day, I waited and waited and waited but there was no sign of them and finally at around noon, they showed up  and got the job done in no time at all. I watched them at work and I was amazed by how they had to take a lot of photographs of the old meter and the new one from all kinds of angles and one was busy the whole time doing whatever he was doing on his laptop and after they were done, it took him quite a while in the car to come out with the form for me to sign – he said the printer was slow. Good grief!!! In the old days, they would just come and change and all documentation, report and what not would be done when they got back to the office…and they say with all this modern technology, our lives would be a whole lot easier? Hmmmm!!!

Unfortunately, the story does not end there. They turned off the main switch outside so they could do the work and once they finished, they switched it back on. It turned out that my UNIFI modem refused to reboot – the TM light at the side came on but none of the little ones appeared. The other two, whatever they were, looked all right.

I called their 1-100 number and got to speak to a machine. She gave me 4 options but none seemed to be what I was looking for. I called the TM service centre number but nobody answered and I kept being redirected to their voice mailbox. In the end, I gave up and drove to their office. Who says with technology, things are a whole lot easier these days. Tsk! Tsk!

Luck was on my side! There was nobody at the office, just the security guard and a sweet young girl at her table with her monitor right in front of her. Yes, she was very nice and friendly and I did not have a problem at all in lodging my report. She told me the people would go to my house that afternoon or to the latest, the next morning. I had no choice but to go home…and wait. By the time I was done by around 1.00 p.m., I saw that a queue was starting to form right behind me.

The technicians showed up very soon at around 2.00 something and they changed the modem to a brand new one…

New UNIFI modem

…free of charge. When I first registered and got connected, the whole set was all silvery chrome in colour and looked impressive. Over the years, they have changed the other two (I think one is a router and the other small one is for the online TV) so now I have three odd ones, all looking different. Ah well! As long as they work fine, that would be the most important.

I asked them what happened and they said that we did not switch it off when the SESCO guys turned off the main switch outside and when they turned it back on, the power surge caused it to go kaput. I give them canned drinks to take back and a tip in appreciation of their prompt response for them to go for tea.

Gosh!!! All this is just one day…and what a day it was!

Growing in my garden…

I’ve been plucking my butterfly pea flowers…

Butterfly pea flowers

…and sending them over to my friends at Payung for their nasi kerabu.

I read somewhere that the flowers must be plucked or once they wither, they will produce seeds and the leaves will not grow luxuriantly anymore. No wonder I saw dried leafless vines with lots of seeds dangling from them. I am supposed to take the seeds, remove the “dead” vines and plant afresh. Well, the good news is ever since I started plucking the flowers and the seeds and removing those unwanted vines, new leaves have appeared and it is starting to look good again…and yes, I do pluck the pods and take out the seeds so if anyone would like to plant their own, they can always get them from me too…anytime.

One thing about the flowers, they seem to come back with a vengeance. I pluck all of them one day, more will bloom the very next day, even more than the day before. Of course, those people at Payung will not need so much so if anyone would like them to use for the natural colour in their nasi kerabu or nyonya kuihs…or their drinks or whatever, they can drop by my place to get them, free of charge.

The wife of an ex-student of mine saw my Facebook posts on the leaves and asked for some so I told her to come over to my house and I gave her the ones I plucked that day plus the seeds. The following evening, she PM-ed to tell me that she was on the way to my house and she gave me these…

Fong's serimuka

the rice tinted with the natural colouring from the flowers (her second attempt at making the kuih, she said) and she also gave me these chicken quiches…

Fong's chicken quiches

…that she made. Thank you so much, Fong & Henry.

In the meantime, my Brazilian spinach…

Brazilian spinach

…is growing very well too, so well that I’ve been harvesting it ever so often and giving bags and bags of it to my neighbour (they shrink badly in the process of cooking) – she says her grandchildren love it! If I am not wrong, they use it at Payung for their herbs salad so perhaps one of these days, I can give them some too. For one thing, I do not use pesticides, 100% organic, so some of the leaves would be quite badly eaten by whatever and would have holes all over. I would just cut and throw those away even though my missus said that I should not do that. Since the pests will eat it, she said, it should be good for us too – what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. LOL!!!

I planted some sweet potato leaves sometime ago and they grew rampantly and went completely out of control. We ate and ate till we got quite tired of it so I got rid of all of it. After all this while, I felt like eating it again and that day, I bought a bundle from my neighbourhood shop. We ate the leaves and I planted the stalks/stems. They seem to be growing pretty well…

Sweet potato leaves

Hopefully, we can harvest and eat our own-grown sweet potato leaves soon.

I saw that FINALLY my cangkok manis

Cangkok manis

…is thriving not too badly so I decided to harvest the leaves to cook and eat. At the same time, I selected the bigger, sturdier stems/stalks and pushed them into the ground in the hope that they will sprout leaves so we shall have even more to enjoy the next time around.

I thought there was not enough for a dish so I went to buy some baby corn and sweet potatoes to cook sayur masak lemak (vegetables cooked with santan/coconut milk). It turned out that there was enough to cook on its own so we just fried it with egg…

Fried cangkok manis & baby corn with egg

…but we did throw in a packet of the baby corn.

Not too bad, don’t you think? At least I am getting something back from all those things growing in my garden after all my effort day in and day out.

The Hope of Christmas…

It’s Christmas Day, 2020…

Christmas 2020
*My girl’s DIY Christmas crib using recycled stuff*

I guess unlike those before, this one is not one to bring a lot of cheer and celebration after almost one whole year of living in dread and fear, following the COVID-19 pandemic breakout around March.

I only received four Christmas cards this year, thank you so much to all of them for the effort and their thoughtful and meaningful gestures. Well, I did not send out any myself, just three to the older folks in the family, all residing in Kuching and I was delighted that they reached them safe and sound.

My cousin in Cheras, Selangor sent me this pop-up Christmas tree…

Pop-up Christmas tree frrom Cheras, Selangor

…and I got these lovely ones from my cousins in Kuching…

From Tabuan Laru, Kuching

From Kumpang, Kuching

I certainly was surprised to get one…

From Brisbane, Australia

…from my cousin in Brisbane, Australia too. Our Malaysian postal services made an announcement sometime back that we can’t send anything overseas so I was thinking that would include cards and letters as well.

Every year, as December approaches, I would be keeping track of all the Christmas commercials as and when they appear. I’ve always loved the ones from the UK and sometimes, the Philippines too but this year, I was not really overwhelmed by any of them. Eventually, I stumbled upon this one…

…that I absolutely love and surprise, surprise – it’s from Malaysia!!! You can click the link and watch but be forewarned – make sure you have a box of tissue paper beside you. It is so relevant in these difficult times that we are going through and watching it really touched me deeply. “No one knows when these trying times will finally come to an end but…we believe that things will get better.” Well, for that, we pray.

There are a few new Christmas songs this year but only a couple fit into the context of the situation we all are in. I would say that my favourite is this one…

Some extracts from the beautiful lyrics go like this:
…Cause right now the world looks nothing like those innocent Decembers…
…These days, peace on earth is hard to find.

And I need You to remind me one more time…
You’re still the hope of Christmas
You’re still the light when the world looks dark
You’re still the hope of Christmas
And You’re still the hope of my heart…
…May the sick find healing’s touch…
…And may every heart make room for you, the One who came to save us.

Even though things do not seem to be getting any better, let Christmas fill our hearts with hope, the hope that all this will be over soon.
A Blessed Christmas, everyone. Joy to the world, peace, love and goodwill to all mankind!

You’re so sweet…

My 68th birthday on 2nd December fell on a Wednesday and my girl had to go to school in the morning. That was why we did not have our Foochow longevity noodles…

68th birthday longevity mee sua

…the mee sua served in traditional Foochow red wine and ginger chicken soup in the morning. We had that for lunch that day.

My girl insisted that we went out for dinner that night and the mum did order a cake from Marcus to be collected at 4 that evening. Other than that, we did not have anything planned for the rest of the day.

I was in the washroom downstairs and for reasons unknown, my handphone connection is very poor there and it is the same in the downstairs room that I use as my computer room. That is why should anybody call, I would have to go out quickly to talk. Internet connection is next to nil at those places and likewise, in the washroom upstairs…which is a blessing in disguise. You will not find me sitting on the “throne” longer than is necessary, browsing to see what’s on Facebook or whatever.

Well, around 3 that afternoon, the phone rang – “no name”. Normally I would not accept anonymous phone calls but my instinct told me to take it and I did. I could hear the girl caller loud and clear but she could not hear me. I think she made several calls and in between, I started getting calls from zmun2. I quickly finished off everything quickly and rushed out of the house…and I saw a nice white car at my gate! I walked over to see and the girl stepped out. “Grab delivery!” she said and she passed me the things and left – didn’t ask any questions, didn’t say another word.

It dawned on me right away that my dear blogger friend in KL had gone through the trouble of placing an order and getting them to send everything over. I called zmun2 but did not get a reply so I sms-ed her instead. Yes, it was from her, just in time for tea, she said.

I got these slices of cake…

Secret Recipe red velvet and chocolate odyssey

…red velvet (RM11.88), my favourite and chocolate odyssey (RM11.88) which was very nice but very sweet because of the chocolate. That is why I hardly ever go for their chocolate indulgence that my girl likes a lot.

In another box, there were the salted caramel macadamia (RM11.88) and the Hokkaido triple cheese (RM11.88)…

Secret Recipe salted caramel macadamia & Hokkaido triple cheese

Personally, I prefer their white chocolate macadamia but the latter was very very nice! I sure enjoyed it like how I’ve always enjoyed those Japanese baked cheese cakes.

We only managed to finish the cakes and felt very full after that so even though the pastries were delivered piping hot, we saved them for breakfast the next day.

I’ve had their chicken Cornish spicy (RM10.05)…

Secret Recipe chicken Cornish spicy

…before, way back in 2010 when their outlet here first opened. I enjoyed it more than the chicken curry puffs (RM16.06 for 2)…

Secret Recipes chicken curry puffs

For one thing, I like shortcrust more than puff pastry and the filling in the latter was kind of sourish, something like tom yam, not quite like curry.

We all loved the black pepper lamb pie (RM20.10 for 2)…

Secret Recipe black pepper lamb pie

The filling was something like lamb stew with chunks of the meat and very strong on the black pepper.

Gosh!!! I really don’t know how I can thank you enough, zmun2 –  it was so very sweet and so very thoughtful of you!  That was a pleasant and lovely surprise indeed and yes, it sure made my day, thank you, thank you, thank you!

In the meantime, my cousin in Cheras, Selangor sent me a birthday card…

Birthday card 2020

…a week earlier but it arrived a day late, on the 3rd. It’s the thought that counts, of course, thank you for that and for the effort too. She also sent us a Christmas card – now, that one sure arrived way ahead of the festival towards the end of this month.

I remember my special birthday celebration at my dear friend, Mary‘s out-of-this-world Thai restaurant and the one we had for my girl was no less stunning. Too bad the restaurant had to close – it’s been a while now but that did not stop Mary from coming out with something special for my birthday. She and her girls made this beautiful apple pie…

Apple pie from Mary & her girls

…and went through the trouble of sending it to my house! Gosh!!! I never had an apple pie this nice before, honestly! It was so so so good, as gorgeous as the ladies who made it, thank you all so much!

I truly am so blessed, praise the Lord!!!

FOOTNOTE: Prices quoted above are Grab Delivery prices, inclusive of charges.

SECRET RECIPE, town outlet (2.303270, 111.849253) is located along Jalan Pahlawan, round the corner from the Sibu Bus Terminal.

When you are old…

I absolutely love this Mandarin song…

…inspired by a poem by W.B. Yeats – I so love how he incorporates the classic La Vie En Rose into his song, and whatever you do, do not click this link for the one this handsome singer sang for his father – it is so beautiful, so very emotional that I am very sure you will break down and cry! I cried buckets, I tell you, the first time I heard it and every time I play it!!!

Well, I am old now – 68 years old today…

Longevity mee sua 2020

…and the lyrics of another song come to mind:

The older I get, the more I think
You only get a minute, better live while you’re in it
‘Cause it’s gone in a blink
And the older I get, the truer it is
It’s the people you love, not the money and stuff
That makes you rich…

The older I get, the fewer friends I have
But you don’t need a lot when the ones that you got
Have always got your back
And the older I get, the better I am
At knowing when to give
And when to just not give a damn…

And I don’t mind all the lines
From all the times I’ve laughed and cried
Souvenirs and little signs of the life I’ve lived

The older I get, the longer I pray
I don’t know why, I guess that I got more to say
And the older I get, the more thankful I feel
For the life I’ve had, and all the life I’m living still.

I guess there is no need for any further elaboration – these lines from the song say it all.

And on this my special day, I sure would appreciate it very much if you would whisper a little prayer for me and ask that I shall continue to be blessed abundantly with lots of love, endless happy days and good health in the year ahead and for that, I thank you all. Cheers!!!

 

Play it safe…

One thing that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic and the CMCO or whatever lockdown is the surge in the use of plastic containers as a lot of people would order cooked food to be delivered to their homes. Even though I, for one, have not done anything of the sort since it all began, I did not know until I read about it in zmun‘s blog that those are supposed to be for single-use and should not be used to contain food more than once.

I went and googled to read up about this and I found this one that says that takeaway plastic food containers used at eating establishments, including hawker centres, are meant for single use and such containers should not be used repeatedly. They are safe for their immediate intended purpose, but not beyond what they are designed for. Oh dear! We have been reusing those containers all this while!

Ever since the ban in Sibu on the use of polystyrene containers which we would simply throw away after eating the food inside, the general public has been encouraged to use these disposable cardboard boxes…

Disposable cardboard boxes

…instead. For one thing, they complain that they are very expensive, more expensive than the plastic ones, and sometimes, they transfer the cost to the buyers so if you want to tapao something, you will have to pay extra…

Extra charge

…and that can be as much as 30-50 sen!

Other than that, those boxes are rather flimsy and  not durable especially when used to contain something hot. The steam will make it soggy and it will tear very easily.

The article also goes on to say that for repeated storage of food, consumers should opt only for reusable plastic food containers that have been specifically designed for repeated use. I’m afraid that is not very clear. Does that refer to containers like Tupperware that cost an arm or a leg? What about those cheap plastic containers that they sell at the shops like the Mr DIY or 100% Discount or Supersave stores?

In another article that I found, it says that chemicals lurking in some containers — especially those that aren’t designed for reuse — could leach out of the plastic and into your food if you heat them in the microwave, toss them in the dishwasher, or leave them in the sun for a long period of time. Well, I don’t have a microwave nor a dishwasher but maybe, this is the reason why people have been told not to keep their plastic bottles of mineral or drinking water in their cars.

That article also went on to say this:  But before you toss your tub away, check the bottom for the recycling code, a number that can help you identify what type of plastic your container is made from. If you see #2, #4, or #5, then you’re most likely in the clear for chemicals, which means you can safely reuse your container, whether you bought it at the supermarket or brought it home from a restaurant.

I went and checked all the plastic containers that we have in the house such as this rectangular one…

Plastic container, rectangular

…or this one…

Made from recyclable plastic

…that they claim (at the bottom) is made from recyclable plastic and all the round ones…

Round plastic containers

…including those from the fast food franchises that they use for their whipped/mashed potatoes or their coleslaw and all of them had this…

No. 5

…at the bottom. As you can see, in the recycle icon, there is the No. 5! I guess that means they are all o.k.

Still, whatever it is, we should put in a concerted effort to cut down on the use of plastic. Some of you may recall that I did mention in some earlier posts that I keep my stainless steel tiffin carrier in the boot of my car so everytime when I need to buy something home, I would just take it out and use…and yes, I do keep those big recycled carrier bags too for when I go shopping at the supermarkets and I did buy a whole lot of these glass containers…

glass containers

…on offer, selling for less than half price. I can use them to store food in the fridge or in the freezer. Other than doing our bit for our environment, however small, it is good to play it safe…and avoid using all those plastic containers as far as we can.

Finders keepers…

With Sibu in the yellow zone now, I decided that I should go out once again to stock up on food in the house. I planned to go to the Sibu Central Market after I had dropped off my girl at school but I changed my mind and headed to the one beside the Dewan Suarah (Civic Centre) instead.

I bought two big 2-inch thick slabs of phak thik poh (tripletail fish or patipok or kuku laut in Malay, 打铁婆,松鲷 in Chinese), literally translated as the blacksmith’s wife, a very nice fish and two pretty big ikan bawal hitam (black pomfret). The total came up to RM104.00 and I asked the guy to round it up to RM100.00 but he said he could give me a discount, RM102.00 and yes, I did have RM2.00 loose change and I passed that to him with a RM100.00 note We had one piece of the phak thik poh for lunch and dinner that day – we had that at a restaurant before and we sure loved it and we had not had it since.

Having said that, I think I prefer ngor hu (threadfin/午鱼) – we still have that in the freezer. I bought one whole fish from the fruit and food shop in my neighbourhood –  they said it was small, just over RM100 only for it and they wanted to sell it at one go. I went ahead and bought it but it sure wasn’t small – we have been eating it bit by bit for quite sometime now and there are still a few slabs left, four, at least. I thought it was expensive at the time but considering that we have been able to stretch it so far for so long and enjoying it to the max, it sure is worth it!

Much to my disappointment that morning, there was not a single prawn at all the fish and seafood stalls at that market. One of them had a tray of some miserable farmed ones but no, thank you! The texture is completely out and one can easily taste the difference!

On my way home, I stopped at the aforementioned shop to see if they had any. No, the lady boss said, they did not have any then but she called somebody and she told me that they would send some 10 kg over at around 10.00 a.m. She took my handphone number from me and told me that she would call me when they arrived…which she did and I went over quickly and grabbed a little over 2 kg…

Prawns 2 kg

…of those lovely crustaceans.

The son was packing them for sale – usually, they would sell these prawns in packs of RM30-40 but he said I could just take what I wanted in a plastic bag and pay according to the weight – RM60.00 a kg. and that was what I did.

I went and picked the BIG ones…

Big as a spoon

…and the boy kept telling me not to do that – if I picked all the big ones, they would have to charge accordingly, a different price. They did not do that, of course – they’re very nice people there and all in all, I took slightly over 2 kg, a little over RM120.00. I paid the boss two RM100 notes and he gave me the change and I went home happily after that.

I counted 20 extra big ones…

XL

…22 big ones…

L

…and 18 medium-sized ones…

M

…60 altogether so that roughly worked out to RM2.00 each, so much cheaper than the RM28.00 for a plate of 4, RM7.00 each that we had here that night, so shockingly expensive!!!

Of course, as soon as I got home, I had to go through the chore of getting them done before putting them away in the freezer. I would cut away the legs…

Legs

…and those four peculiar-shaped ones…

Forelegs

…in front below the head but leaving the rest intact. Then I would cut off the tip of the head and remove the black sac…

Black sac

…inside. That is bitter so if you do not remove it and you happen to eat it in the head, it may spoil your enjoyment of the prawn.

Lastly, I would cut a slit along the back to remove the vein…

Devein

…and that was it, all done…

Done!

I put all of them in a plastic tub…

Ready to freeze

…and filled it with water before putting it in the freezer to freeze so eventually, all the prawns would all be frozen in a  block of ice.

My friend, Peter, the boss of Payung, told me once that it would be better to leave the shell intact or the prawns would shrink badly in the process of cooking so you would not have very much left to serve. I managed to put together two plastic tubs for freezing, one with the XL prawns and the other with the L ones…and I also have another tub of the L ones that I managed to buy a couple of days earlier – the last one available that day.

As for the M ones, I removed all the heads and shell and deveined them to keep in sets of 3 for use when frying vegetables. Just 3 would be enough to give your dish that special sweetness to bring it to a whole new level. Like I always say, you just can’t go wrong with prawns!!!

Now, while I was busy with the prawns, the lady boss called me again to tell me that I had dropped a RM100.00 note in their shop and asked me to go over and collect it…which I did. They found it on the floor so they checked their CCTV and saw that it was mine. It’s not so much the money but the fact that there are people who are willing to go through the trouble to find out whose money it is and go through the trouble of returning it!!! I’m sure many will not be bothered to do so and will just keep it, finders keepers, losers weepers!

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.