Not going out…

It has been way over a week since we have gone into Phase 2 here in Sarawak. Unfortunately, we still see cases here, there and everywhere, a lot at some places, so of course, as far as I am concerned, nothing has changed – I am not going out unless absolutely necessary and even though they allow dining in at the eateries these days, don’t expect to see me sitting in a coffee shop, casting caution to the wind and eating away. I am quite happy to stay at home and enjoy my own-cooked breakfast in the early morning.

My girl asked the mum to buy her these made-in-Singapore purple wheat noodles

…sometime ago and I did help myself to a packet, served with thinly sliced pan-grilled smoked duck breast plus an egg and tomatoes by the side. We prefer the chili and lime flavour but my missus said that it was out of stock and there was only this one, take it or leave it.

This is also made in Singapore, the Myojo mee pok dry and my girl still has a few packets in the house so on another morning, I took one…

..for my breakfast and had it with a few slices of scallop tofu and two poached eggs.

Of course I am well-stocked with our Sibu’s own Mee Daddy, chicken flavour

I had it dry, served with deep fried sotong rings and one fried egg and I made sure that I had a bowl of its most delightful soup by the side.

It is pretty obvious that I do not need to go out at all as I have a whole lot of things to pick and choose to eat first thing in the morning. This was my Bovril spaghetti with corned beef and potatoes plus sliced tomato by the side…

I thought it was nice but I would very much prefer the texture of our own mee sua

…or mee kua/mee pok

…with Bovril to that of the Italian pasta…

…al dente.

There was some leftover rice that day so I cooked my kampung-style belacan and ikan bilis egg fried rice

…something I had not had for a while and I even had a bacon & egg burger

…once.

My missus made these sausage buns…

…one night so we could have them for breakfast. I had two and two half-boiled eggs but I wouldn’t say that they swept me off my feet. There was too little sausage, mostly bread and they were so overwhelmingly strong on the garlic, not in the recipe, she said and that was not entirely to my liking. I toasted them in the oven till nice and crusty and buttered them generously to eat – they were quite all right, after that.

So what am I going to eat today? That is the question I will ask myself every morning when I wake up and of course, I shall have to prepare and cook everything myself. However, all things considered, this is a very small price to pay to #staysafe and #staywell and as far as the enjoyment and satisfaction go, I can say that generally, these are as nice or perhaps, even nicer than anything I can get at a coffee shop outside.

Sultans of swing…

I dreaded buying ikan sultan as more often than not, it would be one of those farmed ones and in those farms where they do not have running water in the fish ponds, the fish would have an unpleasant mud smell.

The ones from the Batang Ai hydro-electricity lakes should be fine – we get our supply of tilapia from there, alive and no, there is no mud smell at all. These days, you can get the ikan sultan from there too. As a matter of fact, these two types of fish are easily available from my favourite fish & seafood stall near my house but for no particular reason, I never bought those from the nice lady there – I guess I prefer to buy the freshly-caught ones.

It so happened that my missus went out sometime ago to stock up on food supplies in the house and she came home with not one but TWO frozen Batang Ai ikan sultan from the supermarket near my house. She steamed one and even though it did not have that mud small, the fish had its own smell which I was not entirely fond of. I had to eat it with soy sauce, something I would do when things do not taste so great.

I reminded her of the one that Peter, the boss of Payung, gave to me…

…a long time ago, cooked by one of the Iban ladies working at his café. She removed all the scales so the fragrances of all the ingredients she added could go into the fish. There was serai (lemon grass), chili and a whole lot of leaves and she wrapped everything in either daun pisang (banana leaves) or daun kuyit (turmeric leaves), I can’t remember exactly now, and it tasted really good, no smell whatsoever.

My missus decided to cook the second ikan sultan in her own way with the same ingredients for otak-otak, scales removed and baked it in the oven, wrapped in daun kunyit on the inside, aluminum foil on the outside…

…and boy, I must say it was really very very good!

There wasn’t any of that fish smell that I did not quite like in the first one that we had, steamed. The really fine and smooth meat of the fish was so very sweet…

…enhanced by all the tastes and fragrances of the ingredients used. We sure enjoyed it so much that day and make no mistake, we surely will buy more ikan sultan after this and cook it this same way or in the ethnic way, like how Peter’s worker did way back then.

Happy for a while…

No, I was not expecting it that day, not in the least as there were still a considerable number of cases at some places here, Kuching, for example but out of the blue, they announced that Sarawak would be going into Phase 2 on Wednesday, 14th July and dining in would be allowed.

Of course, I was taken by surprise but I was kind of happy that I would be able to go for my haircut – my hair had grown rather long now, making me feel rather uncomfortable and the batteries in my car’s remote controls…

…were running very low. One no longer functioned and the spare wasn’t very much better. I called the service centre but they said they did not have stock – because of the pandemic, there is this problem with the shipping and delivery of things. Now that we would be going into Phase 2, I could go to one car accessories shop to get the batteries replaced. Those shops are classified under non-essentials and were not allowed to open during Phase 1.

I can’t say I was dying to go some place to dine but I sure would not mind that and I was thinking that perhaps, I could go for a nice plate of kampua mee the next morning. Unfortunately, on the evening of the 13th, they announced a shocking piece of news and that there had been a change of plans – dining in would not be allowed as there were at that point in time 17 cases of the super-infectious, super-contagious Delta variant in Kuching…but only dining in would not be allowed, it seemed. I wonder if those cases of the Delta variant got infected while they were dining in somewhere and that was why they decided not to allow it? Ok to go marketing, shopping and do everything else?

Anyway, upon hearing that the highly contagious variant had made it into the state, I sure would not want to go anywhere anymore and besides, the next morning, it was raining heavily here – I wouldn’t have gone out even if I could. I was quite happy to cook my own Bovril mee sua

…for my breakfast. I still had the real beef Bovril that I bought the other day but I had run out of the mee pok/mee kua. That wasn’t a problem, of course, as I had my stock of mee sua and if I chose to, I could use the noodles from all the packets of instant noodles that we had in the house.

I had a few slices of smoked duck with it…

The previous time I had that, I just heated up the whole chunk in the oven, sliced and ate. The skin was like rubber, impossible to chew and eat so I had to remove it and throw it away. I asked my blogger-friend, Rose, about it – she had it not too long ago and she said I would have to pan-fry it to make it crispy so that was exactly what I did. The skin turned out very nice, very crispy and I sure enjoyed it.

Never mind that my happiness was short-lived, at least, we are well-stocked with everything we need in the house, no need to go out to buy this and that all the time. Whatever phase it is, at a time like this, it will be best to just #staysafe #staywell #stayhome and pray hard that things will eventually get better.

Pretty…

My missus went out on Friday two weeks ago – she did not go out last week as we still had a lot of things in the house – and came back with these pretty bowls…

…that came free with this toothpaste…

…one when you buy a box with two tubes inside.

I love the pleasant colours of the yellow one…

…and also the green…

…and she also got the blue as well.

Unfortunately, she did not get the red one so we do not have the complete set at this point in time. I think the next time I go out, I shall stop by the shop to get that – I have this weakness for free gifts and I would like to have the complete sets. I love the set that I have of the Four Seasons plates that came free once with this toothpaste too.

Incidentally, I read somewhere sometime ago that with this pandemic that is going on and on like it is never going to end, we should have individual servings of soups unlike how we usually have it, Asian/Chinese style, in a big bowl and everybody will help themselves to it. These bowls are perfect for this, just the right size – not too much of the soup and no need for any refill. Of course, we must have separate serving spoons for each dish too. As a matter of fact, this is one good practice, very hygienic, that should be practised regardless whether or not there is a pandemic.

No difference…

The other day, when I was blogging about their butter crackers that my missus bought, I received a few comments on Facebook that gave me the impression that the crackers from this brand are generally quite popular and yes, I did like those too.

Well, now that I’ve finished all of those, I proceeded to the next one, this…

Golden crackers, they are called but if there was any difference in appearance from the butter ones, I sure did not notice it.

I tried it with peanut butter and butter…

…now that I’m staying off kaya (coconut jam) and fruit jam.

I don’t know if it was purely psychological because of the names but at first bite, I was not all that impressed. I thought it was not as creamy/rich and slightly saltier, not as fragrant nor flaky. If you are someone who would like to munch on something while working on your computer, this would be a good choice – I am quite sure you will not get the crumbs all over your keyboard.

Having said that, with the peanut butter and butter and dunking it in my coffee, in all fairness, I would add that it was all right. I wouldn’t say there was no difference because I actually thought that the butter ones were nicer.

There is still another one in their range – the cream crackers but I am not getting my hopes up too high. Those would most probably be the same, more and less and my favourite would still be Hup Seng’s (Ping Pong brand)

Whatever it is, I do feel that these somewhat savoury and not really sweet crackers would anytime be better than those sugar free, artificial sweetener-sweetened cookies. Just bear in mind what someone told me once that three pieces of these crackers is equivalent to one plate of rice – like what I always say, moderation is the key!

Too sweet…

The other day, after having enjoyed the very nice coconut cookies, I decided to try one of the two packs of wafers…

…that I got from my girl for Father’s Day and I picked the vanilla…

The wafer in itself was very nicely done, very crispy, kind of brittle unlike some of our local wafers that may come across like they have gone stale and a little bit limp (lao hong).

However, I have no idea which of the ingredient(s)…

…is/are the sweetener and despite it being sugar free, I found it too sweet for my liking, quite typical of cookies and cakes overseas.

For one thing, because of it being excessively sweet, you will not find me finishing off a whole lot at one go and will nibble them slowly bit by bit one at a time…

…which, of course, is a good thing. I wish it had been a little bit stronger in its vanilla fragrance but all I could taste was the sweetness. I must say that the Italian Loacker Quadratini ones win hands down but of course, sad to say, I have to avoid those these days.

I shall try the chocolate ones when I am through with these – hopefully, I will like them better.

In the meantime, I’ve also tried the pecan shortbread…

…but I’m afraid it did not sweep me off my feet. I would say it was all right, a bit too sweet for my liking and since butter is not one of the ingredients, just vegetable oil, it lacks that lovely fragrance that one would enjoy when eating Scottish shortbread and Danish butter cookies.

So far, the only one that I would not mind going back to grab a packet or two would be the coconut cookies.

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Unfamiliar…

Back in February, we had run out of butter so I went to one of our neighbourhood shops to buy. Unfortunately, there was none available at the first one so I went to the other shop but they only had the canned ones, Golden Churn, no less, at RM26.00 a can.

The other day, I saw that again, there was no butter in the house so off I went to the former and yes, they had a lot of stock, different brands. I think most probably because of the pandemic and the lockdown, these people are facing a problem getting fresh supplies and they will only be available when they do come, like not too long ago, I could only manage to buy cooking oil (Knife) in small bottles, take it or leave it – we usually used Neptune but they did not have that and of course, we always run out of Bovril, always out of stock and at one time, those clams in soya sauce too.

Well, there were all kinds of brands available that day. I checked their Golden Churn, brick and if I was not mistaken, it had gone up in price so I looked at the other brands. There was this unfamiliar one, one that I had never seen before…

…a product of New Zealand, selling for only RM9.80. When it comes to imported “real” butter, anything under RM10.00 can be considered a steal so I bought two.

I tried it the other morning on my toasted Low GI bread…

…with my JIF peanut butter, creamy…

…and yes, it was good. If they maintain it at that price, I certainly would want to buy it again when we run out.

Talking about peanut butter, the other day, my friend, Rose, in Kuching blogged about how she and the children prefer Lady’s Choice, creamy while the hubby likes Jif, crunchy. I don’t think I’ve tried Lady’s Choice – all this while, I thought it was made in Malaysia. So far, I’ve only bought their mayonnaise. I like Tong Garden, made in China…

…but they only have it in small bottles at the shops. Maybe when my bottle of Jif runs out, I’ll try Lady’s Choice to see if it is any good.

Going back to the butter that day, I bought Westgold as well, also from New Zealand, selling for RM10.20 each, to keep in the fridge so I would not have to go out again all that soon to buy…if there is any stock available, that is.

Which way…

I have a friend, an officer in the department at the time, a petite, classy, very elegant, gentle and soft-spoken lady and once, at a hotel breakfast, I saw her eating her half-boiled egg…or half-cooked, whichever way you would like to call it.

She had it served in an egg cup and she tapped the top gently with her teaspoon to break the shell and remove it. Next, she added a bit of salt and pepper, available in those shakers at the breakfast table, before proceeding to eat it daintily with the spoon.

Just then, another officer joined us at our table and he went looking for a saucer or a bowl…

…to eat the eggs, the way we usually do it here.

I tried doing what my friend did to see what it was like and yes, it did go all right except that I would very much prefer the egg the way we usually eat it – with soy sauce and pepper…

I went looking for a youtube video on how to eat a soft-boiled egg and found this one. He does not do it as elegantly (4:45) as my friend – I guess guys tend to be a bit kasar (rough/coarse) and yes, he dipped his toast in the egg to eat too (5:30). I do that…

…as well and I would say that I enjoy eating it like that.

This couple (1:30) used an interesting metal contraption and I was quite amused by how the thing worked.

Whatever it is, personally, I would feel most comfortable enjoying our typical Malaysian kopitiam breakfast…

…and eating the half-boiled eggs in a saucer or a bowl with soy sauce and pepper, the way most of us would do it here. What about you?

Somebody’s gotta do it…

One morning, my neighbour gave me one or chio/ikan bawal hitam/black pomfret…

…a small one, to reciprocate for all the butterfly pea flowers that I would pluck every morning to give to her.

She said that her son’s brother-in-law or somebody has a fishing boat and sometimes, when the ship comes in, he would give him some of those that he has caught. “It’s not cleaned yet,” she told me and I replied that it was perfectly all right as I could easily do it myself.

I asked her if she would do it herself too and she said yes but she added that when she was still single, she did not know how to do a lot of things and only got to learn after she got married and had a family of her own. That would be the case with most young people, I said. As the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of success,” and another one says, “It’s a dirty job but somebody’s gotta do it!

Here, the fish seller will do it for you but he or she may not be that thorough so upon coming home, we would have to clean it all over again to get rid of what is left of the scales and the inside of the fish, those streaks of black along the middle bone and elsewhere. My girl is very particular about cleanliness and she would stop eating at the mere sight of it.

I never had such a small one as usually, we would fry one that is big enough and eat one side of the fish for lunch and heat it up later to finish off the other side for dinner. However, I found that it might get a bit hard come dinnertime, not as nice as when we had it for lunch. I do think it is a good idea to buy two small ones and fry one for lunch and the other one for dinner so no reheating would be involved.

We like it plain so it does make a difference whether it is really very fresh or not. The fresh ones, like the one my neighbour gave me, would be so very sweet, so very tasty you can just eat and enjoy it just like that. Otherwise, we would have to serve it in sweet and sour sauce…

…or cook asam fish or curry with it.

As far as these chio or bawal or pomfrets go, we like these black ones the most. The kim chio (golden pomfret)…

…is more affordable but somehow or other, we are not that crazy about it nor are we into the very popular and expensive pek chio, the white or silver pomfret…

The latter is smoother and has a milder taste but since we do not enjoy it as much and it is not that affordable, we never bother to buy it to eat.

When we were young…

If you go to a coffee shop here and order a toast, you will get a toasted plain/white sandwich bread with Yeo’s kaya (coconut jam) and Planta margarine which is not quite to my liking. I prefer butter, real butter not those supposedly-butter spread wannabes, and nyonya kaya

…but there are people who would rather go for the aforementioned as anything else will not be the same as what they had enjoyed so much when they were young, together with two half-boiled eggs and a cup of fragrant local coffee, kao kao (strong).

I have a friend here in Sibu, a foodie who posts photographs of things that he eats every day on Instagram and Facebook and the other day, he shared one of a toast that he had with butter, peanut butter and kaya

…and that seemed to arouse quite a bit of excitement. His sisters, no longer residing in Sibu, started commenting as they recalled how they enjoyed that…

…during their growing up years when they were young. Gee!!! I never had toast like that before.

Yes, I had it with butter, peanut butter and jam…

…which was nice too – throw in some bananas and bacon and you will get that celebrated awesomely delicious Elvis Presley sandwich.

I don’t know if it was the kaya that I used but I felt that the peanut butter drowned out its taste altogether. In the case of the jam, I could still taste a bit of it above the stronger peanut butter flavour. Well, at least I’ve tried but since I am cutting down on my intake of sugar these days, I shall stick to peanut butter (and butter) alone on my toast…

…no kaya, no jam but even this is not entirely sugar free as there are carbs in that slice of bread and there is sugar in the ingredients for peanut butter. I will just have to confine myself to a slice or two once in a long while.