Don’t look down on me…

We call this fish bak chi‘…

I do not know its name in English or Malay but my missus would buy it quite frequently a long time ago when she used to do her marketing at the central market but ever since the pandemic broke out, we have not set foot on that high risk place so we have not had this for almost two years now.

According to her, in her growing up years, they would eat this fish all the time for the simple reason that it was very cheap and they all enjoyed it – all of them loved it and I must say that I would agree with them. Don’t look down on it because even though it is cheap, it tastes real good and if you fry it a little bit longer till it is more crispy, you can eat most of it, the fins and all, leaving behind only the big bone in the middle. I do enjoy its crispiness and that special taste along with it a lot.

There may be some of those smaller fish like the kembong and all the rest…

…at my favourite fish & seafood stall but my girl does not seem to like those so I would not buy them. That was why when I saw them at the Malay stalls, I would buy one or two…

…for myself to “buang gian” (appease the craving).

She does like bak chi’ to some extent but they are very small and I cannot imagine cleaning them one by one. That was why when I saw some at the aforementioned stall the other day, I asked the nice lady if she could clean it for me and she said that would not be a problem.

I asked for 1 kilo (RM10.00 only) and got 20 of them, so cheap! I expected her to pass them to her helper, a nice young boy, to cut and clean out the insides but no, she did it herself…and I was stunned when I saw how she simply plucked off the heads of each fish violently…and that was it! When I got home, my missus was delighted that I had bought her favourite bak chi’ and when I told her what the lady did, she said that was the way they would do it, no need to cut and clean one by one inside out.

My missus just rinsed all of them well and deep fried them…

– there was enough for the three of us for lunch that day and also for dinner.

Actually, I dropped by the stall that day to see how the lady was doing. I noticed that usually, the stall was not open lately. For one thing, it had been raining a lot and besides, I did see those warnings regarding strong winds and stormy seas so I guess under such conditions, the fishermen could not go out to sea. She seemed to be doing all right, lots of fish that day and I still have my stock of prawns that I bought from her not too long ago, enough to last till after Chinese New Year so I did not want to buy anything else that morning, other than the bak chi’.

I saw her taking out one of the huge storage styrofoam containers and opening it and I was stunned when she put a packet of this…

…in my bag with my fish. “For you, for Chinese New Year!” she said.

Oh dear!!! I thought that was so embarrassing but she insisted and would not take “no” for an answer. Left with no choice, I just said thank you so much and took it home – perhaps, we shall have that for our Chinese New Year’s Eve Reunion dinner, may the Good Lord bless her and all her loved ones abundantly in the year ahead. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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 (formerly Jalan Pedada).

12 days of Christmas…

The postal service here is absolutely atrocious, so much so that many have resorted to sending ordinary letters and cards via courier service, not that it is any better plus it is so very expensive even though it is just within our own country. Of course, it is even worse these days as it has been raining quite a lot here and on rainy days, the postman will not be going round at all. Obviously, he will melt! Tsk! Tsk!

My cousin, Yvette, in Perth, Australia who, without fail, will send me a card every year, was saying that hers must have got lost along the way seeing that I did not say anything about receiving it. Well, thankfully, at long last, the beautiful Christmas card…

…finally arrived on Tuesday, the 11th Day of Christmas. In her own words, it made it just in time, still within the 12 days of Christmas.

This is what it looks like, inside looking out…

…through the very intricate festive paper cutting and just like the one she sent me in 2017

…this one is also in aid of a good cause…

I love buying and sending cards that are in aid of some charity like the ones by the Mouth and Foot Artists. – I do get those from them regularly and of course, I would send them a cheque or pay them online.

Thank you so much, cousin Yvette, hubby Steven and all loved ones in Perth, Australia. I hope you all had a Blessed and Joyful Christmas and a Wonderful New Year and here’s wishing you all Kong Hee Fatt Choy/Qong Xi Fa Cai, a very Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year in advance.

Receive…

I did mention in my blogpost on my birthday the other day that I received some presents from my in-laws and those included this tin of cookies…

…which turned out to be a special Cozy Winter Cookie Collection.

Initially, I thought it was just another brand of butter cookies but when I sat down and opened it that day for our afternoon tea, I realised that inside, there were these delightful brown sugar and cinnamon cookies…

…in some very appealling festive shapes such as the Christmas tree…

…or the present tied with a bow…

…and the Christmas wreath…

They tasted great with their very nice cinnamon fragrance but they were sweet. I had to limit myself to one or two only in one sitting so they probably would last for quite sometime, right up till Christmas, perhaps.

I also got something couriered from KL…

…from my dear cousin there for Christmas

Gosh!!! That was so very sweet of her to send us this cute Santa door sign…

All these years, I had been sending Christmas cards to family and friends but last year, I only sent to the older ones in my immediate family and I am sitting this year out. The post office that I usually go to is VERY small, air-conditioned and often packed with people. I don’t fancy the idea of going in there to buy the stamps and stick them onto the envelopes and mailing the cards, not at this time when we should be #stayingsafe and #stayingwell.

In the meantime, I also received two of this ngor hiang/lor bak (meat rolls)…

…from my friend, Teresa, who gave me her or koi (deep fried steamed yam cake) and kim kua koi (deep fried steamed pumpkin cake) not too long ago, not once but twice and this time around, she showed up at my gate to pass me the aforementioned and also quite a few of her sio bee (meat dumplings)…

I saw on her Facebook page that she was making these for sale so of course, I offered to pay her for them but no, she would not hear of it. She said those were some leftovers, unsold and she chose to give them to friends as it would be a blessing to give and to share – like what I have always said, “As thou giveth, thus shalt thou receive!”

Thank you, one and all. May God bless you all abundantly always.

So glad to see you again…

Richard was in Form 5 when I joined the school where I retired in 2007. He joined the staff there as a temporary teacher for a while after he obtained his degree at a local university, after which he want to Liverpool in the UK to do his Masters.

Fate had it that our paths would cross again when we were on the same flight to KL – he was attached to a bank in Bintulu then and I was on my way to attend a meeting as the area co-ordinator for the MUET Oral Examination. Of course, we shared a cab from KLIA to KL and we got together that night for dinner/supper and also for drinks (at The Ship, Bukit Bintang). We met again when I dropped by Bintulu while I was carrying out my aforementioned duties but we never met again after that.

I managed get in touch with him, now married, happily settled and residing in JB, blessed with a son and a daughter via Facebook after a very very long time and the other day, I saw some snapshots of his kid’s birthday so I dropped a comment to extend my birthday greetings. Much to my surprise, Richard responded to let me know he would be coming back to Sibu in a few days’ time (now that the borders are open once again) and he would like to meet up sometime.

That was how we ended up here

…for lunch that day together with his ex-classmate (extreme right) and his childhood neighbour/primary school friend (extreme left) who turned out to be the owner of the place. That leaves Richard and I in that snapshot, no prize for guessing which one I am- I’m the old and fat one, of course!!! LOL!!!

This teriyaki chicken noodles platter…

…that we had was very nice. I particularly loved the taste of the noodles especially but anything teriyaki never did excite me.

I wanted to try this Vietnamese chicken chop with lemon grass…

…and this too was great but not exceptionally so. I wouldn’t mind if the lemon grass and whatever herbs and spices used had been stronger but that might not go down to well with the other customers.

The vinegar fried kway teow

…was special all right, nice in its own way but I spotted Penang char kway teow on the menu – I would want to try that the next time I drop by here.

Out of the four things we ordered that afternoon, my vote goes to their creamy tom yam fish bihun

The boss said that was one of their signature dishes. It was sour enough, not too sour, in my opinion, just right and it was not over-creamy so I did not feel I had had enough after having a bit of it. I certainly would want to order this again.

We had a great time catching up with one another’s lives and yes, Richard, I was so glad to see you again after all these years. Thank you for the lunch treat and hopefully, we can get together again when you come back to Sibu, come Chinese New Year. In the meantime, take care and may God bless you and your loved ones.

烤大爷 Mr. Cow (2.306031, 111.849136) is located at 2, Lorong Pahlawan 7e, among the shops opposite Everwin, Sibu Bus Terminal.

Brownies…

No, I did not go out to buy these brownies…

…that’s for sure, not when I am presently on a low-sugar diet!

So how did we end up having these beauties to enjoy? Well, my girl’s friend got these for her birthday from a friend who stays next door to my friend/ex-student whose wife runs this homebased business…

…making brownies and everything else and he got them from them for her. You can hop over to their Facebook page to have a look. My girl’s friend gave my girl some to try so that was how we managed to get some in the end. Gosh!!! That’s so complicated! LOL!!!

I tried the one with the Kit Kat on top…

…and yes, I would say it was very nice. It was sweet but not too sweet.

A long long time ago, I used to buy the brownies from what was called the Applebee Bakery then, now Uniqbun, the bakery section of our Sarawak own franchise, the Sugar Bun. Theirs were very nice but very very sweet, with cherry slices and strawberry jam squiggles on top – it was all right then as I was not on a low-sugar diet. I enjoyed them so much at the time that I just could not resist buying one once in a while to nibble nibble.

We also got the ones with the almond flakes…

…but I guess the only difference would be what’s on top.

Of course we shall not be ordering these…

…from them unless we want to give them to somebody but if any of you is thus inclined, you can call them or check out their Facebook page and PM them from there.

It’s not so bad…

The other day, when I blogged about the packet of Kawan Brand’s Malaysian roti channai that I bought, my regular follower & commenter, Irene, from Kuching had this to share: Best to go with curry. Normally, if I have this paratha, I open up a small can of curry, Sunstar brand to go with. Nowadays, I go for this Sunstar brand curry, not into Yeo’s brand much now.

I was quite positive we had a can or two of curry something in the pantry – I think I saw them there a long time ago. We are not into those canned curries as they have one kind of smell – we call it kwan thow air bee (canned smell) so we would rather cook our own even though because of the convenience especially, we had had our share of those a long long time ago, Yeo’s especially.

I went rummaging through the shelves and found these…

Yes, we go for some of those Sunstar products such as their satay sauce…

…ever since, for reasons unknown, wee’s stopped producing theirs…

…and their clams in soya sauce…

…for frying bihun with cangkok manis. They’re just as good as the formerly-made-in-China Amoy Canning ones, now produced in Singapore (Amofood) and are very much cheaper.

I heated the beef curry briefly in a pan and poured it into a bowl…

Then, I took two slices of the roti channai out of the freezer and fried them till nice and crispy. Incidentally, I took them out around an hour earlier to thaw and I found that the pieces came apart easily even though there wasn’t any paper separating them – not need to pry them apart using a butter knife like what I said previously in my aforementioned blogpost.

Once done, I ate the roti with the curry gravy, the beef and the potato…

…and yes, I would say it was not so bad. The canned smell was there but it was not too obvious unlike some brands that I had had before – it definitely did not put me off and I quite enjoyed it actually.

I think when I drop by the shops again, I shall pick up a few cans, the bigger ones, to keep in the pantry. It may not be as nice as the curry we cook ourselves but it is good enough and so very convenient to just open a can, heat it up and eat…like when there is nothing left from lunch – it sure saves the trouble of having to cook something else for dinner.

Travellin’…

My girl’s coursemate in Wellington, New Zealand and Sg Petani, Kedah, Farid Bubu, enjoys travellin’ with his missus, Suzieyana and son, Faaeq and will grab every opportunity that comes along to go some place here in Sarawak and even to Sabah. Of course, they were kind of restricted during the pandemic but now that inter-district travel is allowed, they are on the move ever so often once again.

In Bubu’s own words, “The family that travels together stays forever!” Now, that is something I would wholeheartedly agree. Over the years, once our girl was big enough, we went here, there and everywhere – initially, by car mostly, here in Sarawak to Kuching, Bintulu and Miri and when she was bigger, we ventured further to West Malaysia and Singapore and yes, I do believe that our holidays spent together did serve to draw us closer together and tie our family bond.

During the long Deepavali weekend, Bubu and his family were off to Kuching and places here and there along the way including Damai Beach, Lundu and they even went to a strawberry farm a la Cameron Highlands minus the crowd and the horrendous traffic jam.

Their last trip was quite recent, to Sarikei, and when they came back, they brought us these lovely bread and buns from their favourite bakery there. This time around, when they came back, they gave us this…

…the celebrated butter cake from Mita Cake House in Kuching. Of course, I know their cake only too well.

My sister-in-law in Kuching would always buy that for us everytime she came back to Sibu and my other relatives and friends, ex-students included, would do the same too. It is something like Gardenia’s butterscotch loaf/bread at KLIA2 – anyone and everyone flying home via that airport would surely buy as many loaves as they can carry to enjoy themselves or to give to everybody here.

Yes, it is VERY nice…

…Even before you open the box, the instant you take that out of the plastic bag, you can catch a whiff of the wonderful fragrance of the cake already.

Of course, when you cut it…

…and eat, you will be bowled over by its lovely soft texture and the awesome buttery taste of the cake.

You can see it is not dry…

…at all unlike many of those wannabes from other bakeries around.

It is not cheap though, that much I know, way over RM10.00 for one like that so I always tell people not to buy for me. As a matter of fact, we can get this…

…from a bakery here in Sibu for only RM6.00 at the time, dunno now. Maybe it pales a bit in comparison but I would say it comes pretty close, just that it is very much smaller, maybe around half the size only.

Nonetheless, it sure feels great to be remembered and to receive a little something from so far away. Thank you so much yet once again, Bubu and family. May God bless and take care of you all on your travels north, south, east and west throughout the state of Sarawak. I am sure by the time you get to go back home to Terengganu, you would have gone to so many parts of Sarawak that many of us do not even know exist. *facepalm*

All I have to do is dream…

Not too long ago, I shared with everybody the story behind my nickname among the Melanau folks in the kampung (village) and how an old colleague of mine told me that it was the belief of the older Chinese folks that anyone with a protruding chin/jaw like mine (and Bob Hope, Jay Leno and all the rest) would never be short of things to eat. Well, it most certainly seems to be true!!!

The other day, I dropped by the neighbourhood bakery in the next lane from my house because I wanted to buy some croissants for my girl – she enjoys eating those and it has been a long time since we had any, not since those cheaper factory-made ones from West Malaysia in January. I did not get my hopes up too high that day because it was already almost 4.00 p.m. As a matter of fact, I was thinking it might not even be open but it was!

I went in and I saw three of the plain ones left, their butter croissant, they call it and two of their dunno-what versions. Of course, I did not want the latter and bought all their plain ones. In the past, one would have to make a booking and collect around noon if one was hoping to get hold of any. That day, the nice and friendly girl told me that their second batch for the day would be ready soon if I would wait a little longer. I guess the first batch would be convenient for customers to stop by and collect on their way home for lunch and this second batch is targetted at people going home after work at around 4 or 5. They sure are smart, these people!

The plain ones are RM4.50 each now, RM4.00 in my earlier blogpost on the place, but it’s all right – as long as they are still as good, value for money and my girl enjoys eating them. It was past our teatime already when I got back so we saved them for breakfast the next day. My girl ate one with scrambled egg and the mum had the other. She was reserving the third one for me but I told her I did not want it so we saved it in the fridge for her to eat the next morning – she toasted it in the oven and had it with the beef patty and some cheese and yes, she said it was good.

Personally, I am not really into croissants, will buy and eat sometimes but no, you will not catch me craving for them…and that day, when I was telling my girl to finish off all that I had bought, I was thinking that I would enjoy those lovely scones she and her mum made recently and would very much prefer those instead. Of course I did not say it out loud as I did not want to trouble them – I wouldn’t mind going out to buy but the thing is we can’t get any nice ones here.

As the title of that old classic goes, all I have to do is dream…and the very next day, in the afternoon, my phone rang. Surprise! Surprise! It was my long-time blogger friend, Yan, now working and residing in Kuching. Obviously, she was stuck there all this time because of the pandemic and I guess now that people are allowed to travel inter-district, she has grabbed the opportunity to come home for a while.

She had just touched down in Sibu and reached home and without wasting any time, she headed to my house to pass me these beautiful scones that she made herself…

See! Dreams do come true, don’t they? And look!!! Don’t you think they’re absolutely gorgeous?

I did not sit down to enjoy them right away though – I saved them for breakfast the next morning with butter and roselle jam and yes, they were so so good!

Now, if you’re wondering why I did not feast on them right away, it was because my friend, Yan, also gave me these awesome banh mi

…that she made using her own home-made char siew (barbecued pork)…

…that was so good it would put all the miserable ones we have here to shame.

I saw so many people praising the banh mi they had to the skies so I really had my hopes up high and was dying to try it myself. Well, I did get the opportunity at some Vietnamese restaurants here and here but no, they did not sweep me off my feet. What I had on both occasions did not change my opinion of the French colonial-influenced Vietnamese delight – at the end of the day, it is what it is, a sandwich.

These…

…however, were absolutely out of this world. I guess the char siew was the main draw – the star of the show and together with everything else that went into the mini-baguette/French loaf, it turned out to be a real winner. If there were people selling something like this in town, you can bet your bottom dollar that I would be the first in line to go and buy!

Thank you so so much, Yan, for thinking of me and for taking the trouble to drive over to my house to give me these scones and banh mi to enjoy. I most certainly did!!! Take care, God bless always, #staysafe #staywell Cheers!!!

I owe you…

My missus made these vegetable fritters…

…the other day and yes, we enjoyed them very much. That sure was a welcome change from how we would usually cook long/string beans.

Most of the time, we would just fry them plain with garlic or with sambal hay bee/udang kering

…or sometimes we would cut them thinly and fry with egg…

My missus added some imitation crab sticks to her fritters – I guess that was because there was a pack in the freezer and she would like to get rid of it. Otherwise, there are still a whole lot of the prawns that I bought that day – adding those would definitely bring her cucur to a whole new level!

Moving on from those lovely fritters, I think it was on the following day, past noon, when my friend, Teresa, dropped by to give us another round of her awesome kim kua koi (pumpkin cake)…

…and or koi (yam cake)…

She did give me some the other day to try and she went through all that trouble to drive over to my house to give me some more! Isn’t she nice?

Both were really yummy, heaps better than those wobbly ones (owing to the amount of flour used in the making) sold at the shops and stalls but between the two, my girl likes the pumpkin a bit more – she says it was softer and I guess there was also the lovely sweetness of the pumpkin as well.

Thank you so much once again, Teresa. So sorry that I do not have anything in the house to give you in return – I owe you once and now, I owe you twice! Sighhh!!!

Honeybee…

My girl’s coursemate in Sg Petani & Wellington, New Zealand, Bubu, we call him, has been teaching here since 2013. I guess he is getting on pretty well with his missus and son and also in his school. With the pandemic, he has not gone back to Terengganu for so long now but now that they have opened up all borders and are allowing inter-district and inter-state travel, I am quite sure that they will go home when the school holidays come at the end of the year in December.

In the meantime, they have been very adventurous every weekend since they are free to move around without going through all those restrictions and what not. The previous week, they had a delightful weekend in Miri and last weekend, they were in Sarikei and yes, they went back to this bakery

…there again at this location…

…and they bought me some lovely stuff from there like what they did in December last year.

I remember they gave us the long cylindrical bun…

…the other time and it was very nice with its lovely custard cream filling. They did not give us the cheese stick then – my girl’s favourite so of course, I reserved that for her for her breakfast when she got up the next morning and yes, she said it was good.

This…

…was new too and no, there was no filling inside. It did not matter one bit though as I liked the bun in itself and the cheese, the custard and the sesame seeds coating outside plus all the raisins sure brought the overall taste to a whole new level. Yes, if I were to drop by this bakery, this is one bun that I would want to buy.

They gave us these butter milk buns…

…last year and they gave us a pack again this time around. Unlike the square-shaped ones from the bakeries in Sibu, these were rectangular, longish in shape and one stark difference would be how generous they were with the lovely butter milk filling – they gave so much of it throughout the length of each bun unlike the Sibu ones where once you’ve bitten off the little that they have inside, you are left with just the plain bun to finish off completely kosong. You can take my word for it – these are very good too, not to be missed if you stop by here.

Thank you so much, Bubu, Suzie & Faaeq – it was so sweet of you all to think of us and to take the trouble of sending them over to my house. Much obliged, indeed!

HONEYBEE BAKERY (2.130238, 111.518739) is just next to SugarBun Sarikei at No. 75, Jalan Masjid Lama.