Gotta get it right…

When it comes to fried eggs, I like it done the traditional old-school way…

Wok-fried

…fried in a wok with a bit of the oil splashed onto the yolk so it will not be “bright and sunny” as in a sunny-side-up. I wouldn’t like it flipped…

Flipped

…though as even though the yolk may still be runny, it does not look all that nice.

I certainly am not crazy about those fried using a ring…

Ring-fried

…but they do that at some places where they do everything on a hot plate. At a burger stall, for instance, they will toast the bun, fry the patty and the egg all at one go…and I guess using the ring will ensure that the egg white does not flow far and wide and will fit nicely in the bun.

I do know for a fact that some people use a few rings at a time, also on a hot plate, so they can fry a number at a time and serve them in a tray or plate like what they do at some nasi lemak stalls. However, I am not fond of the thick and rubbery white in eggs fried this way and besides, one will not get the lovely fragrance and taste of the golden frills all along the edges.

For one thing, the one frying must make sure that the plate is clean or else there will be that unsightly layer of “soot” at the bottom like the one in the above photograph or the one I had here

Burnt and uncooked

…even though the boy did not use a ring and even though he was frying one egg at a time, the end result sure did not look all that palatable.  No, they did not burn the egg, just that the plate was dirty and they went on and fried the eggs on it.

In the case of that last one, the white was still uncooked around the egg, something that I encountered at a five-star hotel in Kuching

Uncooked

I would have thought those guys would have gone to some cooking school and would have the credentials to show but the one who fried the eggs for me sure needed a refresher course…but at least, I saw how he fried two eggs at a time and learnt something that morning – he broke them into a bowl first.

The traditional Malaysian breakfast at the old school Chinese coffee shops would include our local coffee in the thick blue and white cup and saucer way back in the good old days but not anymore,  the loti kiap/roti kahwin (sandwich toast) that I blogged about in yesterday’s post and half-boiled/cooked eggs.

However, for me to cook half-boiled eggs the way my mum used to do it, I would need to boil some water and pour it over the eggs, cold from the fridge, and let them stand for 15-20 minutes depending on the size and also how many I am cooking at one time.That is why I would prefer to just fry them using a non-stick pan as it will be faster this way and besides, I am too lazy to take out my extra-heavy wok (7-ply Zebra brand) even though I do prefer my eggs fried that way.

To fry two at a time, following what I saw the aforementioned guy at the egg station at the hotel did, I would break the eggs into a cup…

In a cup

…heat up the pan and grease it with a bit of oil and pour the eggs into it…

In a pan

Move the pan to swirl the egg white in it and spread it all over the pan and if you are thus inclined, before the white gets cooked, you can push the egg yolks to the middle to make your fried eggs look more presentable, not lop-sided like mine.

Turn down the heat and wait till the egg white is completely cooked and the bottom is lightly browned like this…

Bottom, golden brown

You can cook it a little longer if you wish and on low heat, it is not likely that it will end up burnt.

There you have it! My pan-fried eggs…

Pan-fried

…not uncooked around the yolk, not burnt at the bottom – so very easy, absolutely no problem at all. I really wonder why I see so many people in the food business who just can’t seem to get it right!

Do what you like…

Everyone has his or her own likes and dislikes, his or her own preferences and idiosyncrasies and of course, one is free to do what one likes.

I have a toaster…

Toaster

– it was given to me by a dear friend as a wedding gift; he was my best man but sadly, he had passed away not too long ago, may he rest in peace.

Of course that was a long time ago but yes, it is still in very good working condition. For one thing, things made in those days are a lot more durable and lasting than what one can get from the shops these days. We had a sandwich and waffle maker that my missus got from some direct sales agency, using her bonus points – it was working all right but one fine day, when we turned it on, the electricity in the house went kaput! In the end, we just had to throw it away. Thankfully, it came for free and as they say, easy come, easy go!

Going back to the toaster, I am not fond of using it as if the toast is brown enough, the whole slice of bread will be crusty, inside out. Other than that, I am not all that crazy about going through the trouble of taking it out of the cabinet and after using it, when it has cooled, I would need to clean it before putting it back.

I guess it will be the same if I use my oven…

Oven

I got this free using my credit card points and yes, it has its uses, small and convenient so we will not use the big one that is part of our gas stove unless absolutely necessary. I’ve never tried using it to toast bread…

To toast bread

…though so I am not sure how it will turn out.

In the old days in the coffee shops, they would place the bread on the charcoal grill…

Charcoal grill

…to toast it. I had seen them scraping the black surfaces once it was done and they would generously apply their own-made kaya (coconut jam) and place a slice or two of butter on top and serve. Of course, that was so very nice unlike what we will get today. Firstly, nowadays, they will use an electric toaster or an oven toaster and then they will serve it with canned kaya and margarine.

As a matter of fact, they actually had one charcoal grill at a hotel in Kuching for guests to use to toast their bread if they were thus inclined…

Charcoal grill at Grand Margherita Kuching

…and yes, I did toast my bread on it when I was staying there once.

There is one very popular place in Sarikei where people will go for the toast. I think they give butter, not margarine so that is a bonus and other than the kaya, it looks like they add peanut butter as well but I have never been there so I have no idea how they toast the buns. I have also heard a lot of this place in Kuching that is famous for its toast – Rowena goes there sometimes, it seems…but I have never been there either so I do not know how they go about making theirs.

So how do I go about mine? I like to toast the bread on a non-stick pan…

Non-stick pan

…till it is nice and brown on the outside…

Brown on the outside

…but still soft like fresh bread inside.

Once done, I would apply a thick layer of kaya – I like the made-in-Singapore Glory Brand, just like homemade…and slices of butter…

With kaya and butter

That sure beats any loti kiap (sandwich toast) or roti bakar that we can get at the shops here…or if there is any that is better around town, I sure do not know of it.

Not my problem…

I don’t know why people would grumble in my face that the food at a certain place in particular is so expensive. I did blog about this before so I shall not speak on it any further. After all, it is not my problem – they are the one with the problem so they can go and deal with it and frankly, what the hell do I care! Tsk! Tsk!

Anyway, there was this somebody that day who said the same thing and no, I did not bother to respond at all – I already have it up to here with cheapskates like her. Well, she went on to sing praises of one Malay place here where they have this eat-all-you-can buffet lunch for RM7.90 with a free flow of drinks. Of course, I simply had to go and check it out.

We got there past noon at around 12.15, before 12.30 and because of where we parked the car, we went in from one side of the shop and the floor was soaking wet! “Hati hati, ya! Basah! Nanti jatuh!” the lady doing the washing at the sink there said laughingly, like she was poking fun at this fat old man. Now you know it was wet…and obviously, it was because of you so shouldn’t you go and get a mop to mop it dry? Tsk! Tsk!

We went to look at the food – there was so very little of everything left except one dish of not-so-very-nice-looking pumpkin. As for the rest, I did not think there was enough for the three of us if we were to take a spoonful each of each of the dishes…and we all agreed that they did not even look nice. Personally, we would rather go here for their RM6.00 eat-all-you-can buffet and spend the extra RM1.90 on a drink. After all, all they had in the drink dispensers were some pale-looking over-diluted cordials, nothing to get excited about.

Nobody said a word to us – we would have told them there wasn’t much of everything left and if there wasn’t going to be any refill, they could at least suggest that we took a seat and we could order from their regular menu. No, we came and we left – not a word was spoken…other than that lady and her cheeky remark about the wet floor.

In the end, we adjourned here…

Outright Coffee 1

…at the end of the block, some 50-100 metres away…

Outright Coffee 2

…and had our lunch there…

Outright Coffee 3

…in the nice ambiance with air-conditioned comfort (we opted to sit inside this time) and great friendly service.

My girl had the banana mango milkshake (RM15.50) that I had on one of our previous visits while I had their banana caramel milkshake (RM13.90)…

Banana caramel milkshake

…which according to the boss, was one of their best sellers. My missus said she did not want anything and she would be fine with the complimentary drinking water but anyway, we got this pink passion soda drink…

Pink passion soda drink

…on the house – for purchases over RM30.00. It certainly was A LOT bigger that last time around and despite our bill surpassing RM60, we did not get two – only one. Hmmm…perhaps the next time, we shall split our orders and pay separately.

I was still full from the breakfast I had that morning so I just had a beef and potato pie (RM9.00)…

Beef and potato pie

…which I did buy from their bakery at the back once and it was indeed very very nice…

Beef and potato pie

I noticed, however, that it was RM1.00 more expensive than at their bakery so I mentioned to the boss that they should at least do something about the presentation to merit that extra ringgit…instead of just serving it in a plate like that.

My missus had their barbecue chicken with rice (RM15.90)…

BBQ chicken with rice

…with mushroom sauce and though the meat looked a little charred, she loved it very much. I guess it would be something like satay – very much nicer when a bit burnt, just a bit.

My daughter’s  barbecued chicken with fruit salad and baked wedges (RM15.90)…

BBQ chicken with fruit salad and baked wedges 1

…with rosemary sauce was done to perfection…

BBQ chicken

…and yes, she too enjoyed her order in no small measure.

Well, if the aforementioned Ms Cheapskate had not had the shock of her life looking at the prices of our individual orders, the total came up to RM69.30 altogether…and no, I am not saying that was cheap but considering that we did derive so much pleasure from everything, I would say it was money well spent – value for money…and we went home completely satisfied and happy and no, we do not spend like this all that often, only once in a while , usually on weekends when my girl has come home after a dreary week at her school in the jungle. We probably would not have enjoyed our lunch half as much had we gone for the RM7.90 eat-all-you-can buffet lunch that Ms Cheapskate spoke so highly of.

OUTRIGHT COFFEE (2.290978, 111.820996) is located at 24B , Jalan Lau King Howe, at the end of the first block of shops immediately behind the Lay King Howe Memorial Museum.

Stiff competition…

So far, my favourite or koi (Chinese yam cake) would be the ones here, big thick slices, pre-deep fried but the last time I bought some from there, they had jacked up the price to RM1.20 a slice, 20 sen more than what they were selling them for formerly…and I would not know if it was a case of poor quality control but it did seem a little bit more wobbly or jelly-like than before. Many of those sold around town are like that and I think it is an indication of their using more rice flour and less yam.

Well, I happened to buy a slab of it here, not very big for RM2.00 but yes, it was big enough for four slices so that would mean that it did not cost more than those small thin ones selling at stalls all over town for 50 sen each. It was so nice – not wobbly at all, with lots of yam in it plus it tasted great.

It so happened that I dropped by the shop again the other morning and saw this big one…

Swee Hung steamed or koi

…selling for RM6.00 which I thought was inexpensive considering that it was no less than four times the size of the one I had bought earlier.

The shop gets their supplies from people who make those kuihs (cakes) at home and send them over for sale and I’ve a feeling the one who makes this one in the morning is not the same person as the one in the afternoon. This one had bits of carrot in it (though I did not think that made any difference to the taste) and a whole lot more yam – you would be able to taste it in the texture and it had a very strong taste of the hay bee/udang kering (dried prawns) used in the making. The other one had bits of minced meat but I could not detect any in this one. I must say the competition is stiff between the two and personally, I would not mind buying one or the other. In the meantime, I am sorry to say that the one aforementioned, formerly my favourite, can just go and take a back seat now.

These are not deep fried though – I don’t mind eating it steamed just like that and I do recall the ones in Penang where they served them with some hay kor (prawn paste)/rojak sauce and a dash of chili sauce. My missus likes it deep fried so I cut it into bite-size slices and threw them into a pan of hot oil to fry lightly…

Swee Hung or koi, lightly deep-fried

…and yes, she enjoyed them very much and was full of praises.

In the meantime, the nice young boy at the shop asked me to buy this new variation of the yew char koi/youtiao (Chinese crullers)…

Swee Hung new-style yew char koi

…at 50 sen each. I did not really catch what he said, something about there being spring onion or fried shallot or meat in it but anyhow, I bought two to try.

No, it did not have the texture of the traditional yew char koi, soft and light and full of (air) holes nor was it thick and dense like doughnut…

New-style yew char koi, inside

– it’s just different, that much I can say but it tasted all right. I wouldn’t say it got me jumping with delight but it was good enough to buy once in a  while for something different for a change.

The eloquent boy, obviously a good salesperson, also persuaded me to buy the tee piang

Swee Hung tee piang with meat filling

…which did not look as nice as those at the handsome boy’s stall at the pasar malam (night market) but the ladies in the house liked them a lot. My girl said they were good and the mum insisted they had a stronger taste of the soya bean pulp used in the making.

I thought it was good and I liked the filling…

Tee piang with meat filling, inside

…more – both are priced the same, RM1.50 each with meat filling and of course, if I can grab these here, I would not have to go through the hassle of making my way through the crowd at the pasar malam and wait a long time for the tee piang to be fried and parking can be such a pain – I would have to park far away and walk all the way there!  So which one do you think I would much sooner go and buy now?

These and lots more are available at SWEE HUNG (2.316161, 111.840441), 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. Kim Tak Co. and Ah Kau Cafe are located in the other block on the left.

$ave dat money…

It’s that time of the year again! The Mooncake Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival or the Lantern Festival in this part of the world, falls on Monday, the 24th of September this year and yes, the mooncakes have made their appearance at the local shops and supermarkets.

Recently, I saw some very nice-looking ones from China, selling for less than RM10.00 each, even cheaper than our pretty good made-in-Sibu ones. Even the packaging looked impressive. I guess it can’t possibly get any more authentic than those but no, I did not buy any. These days, I am kind of wary when it comes to anything imported from there.

I have not been buying any for some years now with the exception of those “branded” ones that I would buy – one box each – for my parents and also my mother-in-law to enjoy, never mind the price but now that they had passed away, I would not need to do that anymore.

Over the years, I have had some very nice ones sent to me by my kind and generous friends in the peninsula to enjoy and for one thing, I always loved the packaging and I would keep them to this day. This one from The Baker’s Cottage…

From The Baker's Cottage

…for instance, comes in handy every year, come Chinese New Year, for keeping my stack of ang paos (red packets containing gift money) but not this year as I was not celebrating nor next year too. I saw those from the aforementioned bakery being sold at a bakery here the other day but even the cheapest was over RM20.00 EACH so of course, I just walked away…quietly. LOL!!!

Well, the other day, I happened to see these made-in-Johore ones, Yong Sheng…

Yong Sheng mooncakes - coin box

…at a supermarket here and you can get the coin-box if you buy two of them and being a sucker for these freebies, I grabbed one and took it home. Sigh!!!

I probably would not have done that if they had cost a bomb but these lotus paste ones were only RM15.50 each…

Yong Sheng mooncakes

…and RM16.00 for the lotus paste, white but RM22.00, no sugar. Usually, people would say sugar free or low sugar and I’ve always wondered why it is so much more expensive when there is one ingredient less. Perhaps they use those artificial sweeteners that are a lot more expensive, I wouldn’t know.

Incidentally, I just came to know about the significance of those little white rabbits on the packaging when I read about the Moon Rabbit in my blogger-friend’s post the other day. It seems that it symbolises loyalty and thanksgiving. Gee! I guess one is never too old to learn and one certainly gets to learn new things every day.

The ones that I bought…

Yong Sheng mooncake

…were good, smooth…and fine…

Yong Sheng mooncake, cross-section

…and the skin was not too thick (I do love the skin, actually!) though for me, they were a tad too sweet so I could only nibble, nibble, a wedge at a time…

Yong Sheng mooncake, wedge

…but what the heck, it comes only once a year and even though, these are not as shockingly astronomically priced, I sure would not be rushing out to buy some more – maybe next year.

The coin box sure comes in handy for if I would drop in all my coins every day…

Sikit sikit jadi bukit

…by this time next year, I would have quite a lot to buy more mooncakes to enjoy and most likely, I would be able to afford those more expensive ones even, I think!

Get connected…

It is very easy for those people perched on top of their ivory towers to say that this is the age of technology and that is how education should be these days.

Well, we do not have to go very far, just 99 km away from Sibu town, less than half an hour’s drive from Selangau Bazaar to my girl’s school in the jungle…

SK Sg Sepiring, Selangau

…and it is located right beside the Sibu-Bintulu road, no need to go inland, deep into the forest even.

Using technology to teach in the classroom is out of the question – I even bought a portable LED projector for over RM1K for my girl to use but there is no power socket, no electricity supply for one to use for this purpose so for years now, it has been sitting idle in one of the cabinets in the house. I wonder if it still works!

The teachers have to do a lot of things online, key in all kinds of information, statistics and what not and never mind that I do not really see the purpose but it actually takes them away from what they are supposed to do – TEACH! For one thing, there is no internet connection (and the servers that the ministry is using suck big time) – no Streamyx nor Unifi in those part of the woods so they will have to pay out of their own pockets to subscribe to one of those that may be used in the desolate remote areas here.

Maxis is totally dead while DIGi has a bit of life. Let us look at my connection. If I am sitting inside my girl’s quarters, for instance, there is no line at all, not even a single bar…

No bar

…and of course, if you want to go online, this is what you will get…

Failed to connect

I will have to go to this corner of the building…

Signal available here

…where on good days, there will be a few bars…

Signal available

…and I will be able to go online to do things like checking out my blog or logging into Facebook…

I'm connected

I remember one time I was bringing some students to a public speaking competition at a school right across the river from Kanowit. I found that there was a connection if I were to stand near one palm tree there holding my hand up high. I could call home…but when I lowered my arm to speak, the connection was lost. A friend of mine from Penang posted to a school in the Dalat district said that he would have to climb on top of a cupboard in his quarters to send me an sms.

“This is CELCOM territory!” they would shamelessly and blatantly declare and I have to fork out around RM100 a month for my girl to enjoy the connection and go online using their wireless modem. It used to be pretty ok before but I hear that these days, for reasons unknown, it is also rather shaky, not all that reliable anymore. Shouldn’t they be getting progressively better, not progressively worse? Tsk! Tsk!

This is why when I see those people with their lofty ideas implementing all kinds of programmes and what not, I get very depressed. It is obvious that they do not know very much about us – like how they would change the dates for their meetings according to their whims and fancies and I had to pay the fines for changing the dates of my air ticket bookings…or even if they do, I don’t think they even care…at all and the tragic thing is I do not foresee a time in the future when this is going to change, no way so for heaven’s sake, spare us all that crap – faster and cheaper broadband by 2019, my foot!

I prefer…

If you go and order a plate of fried noodles at the Chinese shops and stalls here, you will most likely get the wet one, the one with gravy…

Chinese/Foochow fried noodles, wet

…or the dry one…

Chinese fried noodles, dry

Of course, you will need to know where to go for the nice ones – some may not be all that great and the dry version may turn out to be just noodles fried with garlic and soy sauce with a few strands of taugeh (bean sprouts) and a bit of egg.

Generally, when it comes to noodles, fried dry, I do prefer the mee goreng (fried noodles) at the Malay shops and stalls like this one (RM4.00)…

Bandong Walk mee goreng 1

…from the lady at the stall beside the drink stall which is to the immediate right of the Bandong Walk Nasi Lemak stall.

I noticed that morning that the roti canai boys are back, a couple of stalls to the right of this noodle stall and were enjoying brisk business as well.

She also sells kampua mee and I saw a lot of people eating that but no, I did not feel like having that. Her mee goreng was very good…

Bandong Walk mee goreng 2

…with bits of chicken and everything else, not too oily like some and bursting with flavours. I sure would not mind going back for it again and perhaps the next time around, I will ask her if she has a “special” – they usually have that, a fried egg or a fried chicken wing perhaps.

I had the kopi-o-peng/iced black coffee (RM1.50)…

Bandong Walk kopi-o-peng

…and good grief! It came in such a huge glass and the best part was that it was so cheap. I prefer the kopi-o, no ice (RM1.00) that I had the previous time though.  This one was too sweet initially but it was ok after the ice melted a bit by which time, the coffee was kind of diluted.

Business certainly looked very good these days – there were so many people eating there or buying to take away and of course, that is a good thing.

This noodle stall is located at Bandong Walk, Jalan Bandong, beside the drinks stall to the immediate right of The NASI LEMAK BANDONG WALK stall (2.313869, 111.825808) somewhere in front of the block of shops where Mastura Delite and the 1Malaysia clinic are.