Please Mr Postman…

The postman came on Saturday morning (the 11th, if I remember correctly) but I was not home at the time, so he left a slip of paper in my letter box asking me to go and collect something at the Sibu General Post Office. It rained that day and by the time my missus noticed it that night, it was already soaking wet so I had to leave it to dry. I went during lunchtime on Monday…but the guy who was supposed to be at the counter had gone off for lunch. Anyway, he came back in a bit and handed over to me my “prize”.

It was my complimentary copy of Quachee’s 50+1 Malaysia book. I have put the word “prize” in quotation marks because everyone who submitted something got a copy, so it would not be a prize in the true sense of the word. As a matter of fact, it was not really a competition per se in the end since everybody got something. Well, actually I had bought a copy of my own already at MPH when I was in Sungai Petani a few months ago at the promotional price of RM19.90, but never mind! Consider it as a small contribution on my part in support of a fellow-blogger. Thanks a lot, Quachee, for the book.

Well, there was a signed letter inside, so a pat on the back for Quachee…

50+1 Malaysia 1

I hate those “computer-generated letters” that make one feel so insignificant. What’s even better than that is he personally autographed each individual copy of the book…

50+1 Malaysia 2

…even though his handwriting reminds me of a doctor’s prescription! LOL!!! The book has been reviewed by some newspapers and magazines and it seems to be pretty well-received. Well, I will be very frank and anyway, I have already passed these comments somewhere and Guachee has been gracious enough to accept them and responded very positively that he would take note of them in his future publications.

My first reaction when I saw the book on the shelf at MPH was, “It’s SO small!!!”

50+1 Malaysia 3

I bought the “Sibu in the making” book a few years ago and I think it was sold at RM50.00. I guess it must have been sponsored by some big shots in town and it was in a way a politically-motivated book and therefore, profit from the sale of the book would not be a top priority. But I think I read somewhere that Quachee’s book will be sold eventually for RM51.00. No doubt the prices of things have escalated like nobody’s business but I feel that is a bit too steep for a small book like that and it’s paperback some more, not hard cover like the Sibu book. After all, there are a number of advertisements in the book, so that should help cover the printing costs.

Now, the book being pocket-size, the photographs inside are very small – some stamp-sized, in fact!

50+1 Malaysia 4

And the font-size of the print is so small that I found it hard to read it in the hotel where I was staying in Sungai Patani.

50+1 Malaysia 5

I was only able to browse through it with ease in the aeroplane on my flight home and I noticed something else about the book then. I am not going to elaborate on this as I have mentioned it to Quachee already somewhere that in his future publications, he should get a good English language editor. (I’m available…cheap! Just pay for my air ticket, hotel and meals! LOL!!!)

On the whole, it is a nice and handy book with a whole lot of information about Malaysia and some very nice photographs, small though they may be. For one thing, it contributes towards putting our country in a favourable perspective which is more than what I can say about certain parties around. Good job, Quachee! Do keep it up…and thanks again!

P.S.
Actually I wanted to give the copy of the book that I had bought to Stella when she was home from Down Under but when the time came, it just slipped my mind so now, I have two copies of the book. Anybody’s birthday coming up? Or perhaps that can be one of my Christmas presents this year. Too bad Kpg Nangka Boy’s already too old to get X’mas presents! ROTFLMAO!!!

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Conversations…

FINALLY…after over 36 hours, Celcom’s Broadband connection has been restored…

Every morning, should I drop by the Delta Commercial Centre near my house for breakfast or to buy something, I would meet three ex-colleagues of mine – retirees like me and all three are ladies, so I call them the “First Wives’ Club”. According to them, they have been meeting like this for breakfast for the last 19 years. Gee! I wonder what they talk about in their daily conversations.

They were also invited to Huai Bin’s sister’s wedding  banquet and we sat at the same table. In our conversation that night, I asked them what they thought was nice to eat in the vicinity and they said that I should try the kampua at e-cafe, located directly opposite the back portion of Delta Mall…

Delta Mall - back portion

From the coffee shop, on the other side, you can see this supermarket that belongs to that famous Kuching blogger…

Everrise - Pedada branch

Well, actually I have been to that place before and I had the kampua special which wasn’t too bad but I did not think it was that great. They also told me that at this same place, I could get nice Sarawak laksa or beef noodles from another stall inside. So I went to try the latter…

Sibu's e-cafe beef noodles

Again, I found that it was just so-so. I would much sooner go to that menopausal lady at the coffee shop behind the Sibu Kidney Foundation. Her beef noodles or kampua kosong (plain noodles) with beef soup are definitely nicer…and back to the topic of kampua, I told the ladies that I would prefer the one at Soon Hock Cafe, also in that same area. However, they had never gone to that one as according to them, the kampua lady had such long hair and they were sure a strand or two would drop into the noodles…

Sibu's Soon Hock Cafe kampua stall

There, you can see the lady in black in the photo. That’s the one. Well, I’ve eaten there quite often but never once had I encountered any hair in the kampua. In fact, it is so popular that every morning, it will be quite crowded with people dropping by for breakfast before heading to their offices to work. Of course, if you ask me for my personal opinion, the best is the kampua at the Rasa Sayang Cafe. Period.

P.S.
Checked my Google Page Rank the other day…and hey! I’ve gone up from 3/10 to 5/10, same as anilnetto.com (So far I have only found one that’s higher – a 6…malaysiakini.com!) while many who had a page rank of 5 have dropped to 4 or even 3. Hehehehehehehehe (*evil laugh)!!!

Bachelor boy…

Born on 14th October, 1940, he turned 68 last week…Yes, Sir Cliff Richard celebrated his birthday last Tuesday.

When I was young, my father said I used to listen to his songs (and also Elvis Presley’s) – hit after hit. “Move it” was his first hit but I would very much prefer his slower songs such as “Constantly”, “Evergreen Tree”, “The minute you’re gone”, “Visions”, “The twelfth of never:, “How long is forever” and so on but my favourite songs by him would be his newer ones – “Miss you nights” and “Ocean Deep”.

Many other artistes have done covers of “Miss you nights” including the one-time very popular Irish boy band, Westlife (but I think Cliff does it better!) and there is even a Chinese version of “Ocean Deep” by Taiwanese singer, Emil Chau Wakin (Warning! Do not click the link if you are homophobic!).

Cliff Richard's recordings
From my cassette tape and cd collection

I have his greatest hits on cassette tape as well as on cd…and I also have the more recent cd that he recorded in Nashville – “Something’s going on” (See above picture) but judging from the amount of airplay it got, I don’t think it was very successful. There is one very nice song on the album actually – “I cannot give you my love” but most of the time, it seems that the deejays on the radio stations would rather play his evergreen hits. If you manage to catch TSA (formerly known as Coma Smith) on RedeFm (RTM, Kuching), you can bet that he will play a Cliff Richard song or two on his show.

Cliff Richard has done a number of duets with other singers. I like his “Suddenly” (from the movie, “Xanadu”) with Olivia Newton John and his “All I ask of you” (from Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical, “The Phantom of the Opera”) with Sarah Brightman isn’t too bad. I have not seen this album around though…

Cliff Richard's DUETS album

“Two’s company – Duets”, which is a collection of duets by Cliff with a number of renowned names in show biz. One of the songs in the line-up is a cover of the Carpenters’ “Yesterday Once More”, and listening to Cliff singing it, it certainly seems like yesterday…once more!

On and on and on…

Oh dear! They say I am putting on weight…and my perut buncit (protruding belly) is getting very prominent. Sigh! It must have been all those dinners with Cooking4stp and on Saturday night, I was at Huai Bin’s sister’s wedding banquet at the RH Hotel here. It was a grand affair at the very posh venue but the place was somewhat dim, so I could not take nice photographs. That is why I will not put up anything on it but you can always hop over to Huai Bin’s blog to see his post. Be forewarned though! Do NOT click on the video clip of him singing, if you know what’s good for you. ROTFLMAO!!

Then, on Sunday night, I went for the annual dinner hosted by the centre where I am presently teaching, at…

Sheraton Restaurant, Sibu

The dinner started with the usual assorted first dish…

Sheraton 1

Everything was delicious but I did not think there was anything really sensational. The not-to-be-mentioned soup followed – no pic of that, of course, and then we had the celebrated Sheraton curry fish head (Finally, Huai Bin! Finally!!! After all this time, I had managed to get to eat it. Hint! Hint! LOL!!!)…

Sheraton 2

It may not be very photogenic (OK! OK! It was my lousy hp camera and my poor photo-taking skills! Hahahahahaha!!!) but the exquisite taste will simply blow you away! The dish was served steaming hot with the special fragrant rice from Bario in the hill regions of Sarawak. Personally, I do not like having it together with a full 8-course Chinese dinner as one would be too full (and satisfied) to enjoy the rest of the dishes…but since I had not had it for a long time, I literally sucked (Oops!) everything out of the cranium and licked the plate clean! It was that nice, believe me! And it was a lot better than the curry fish head at Paramount that I had with Huai Bin and the others sometime back. A sea cucumber and abalone dish followed…

Sheraton 3

…but I just had a bit and did not think it was anything to shout about. At this point, I stepped outside for a bit of fresh air (Ask no questions, and I’ll tell no lies! LOL!!!) and in the meantime, they served the next dish…

Sheraton 4

Hey! How come nobody notified me?…I got back just in time to snap this photo of the waiter wrapping the last few rolls of the Peking duck! The duck was very nice and even though the skin/wrapper was different from the popiah-look & taste-alike in other restaurants elsewhere serving this same dish, it was just as good. Next came this impressive looking dish…

Sheraton 5

On one side, they had some pie-like things made with a thin piece of bread as the base and egg white as the cover. For the filling, they had some minced meat and prawn…and I think they deep-fried them. Not bad…but the base had the taste of french toast! On the other side, they had abalone again on a bed of broccoli. The sweet yam dessert (or-nee) came next… 

Sheraton 6

I loved the small ones – the sweet mashed yam sandwiched in between two pieces of cheese crackers and coated at the sides with sesame seeds and deep fried. Very  nice, very nice indeed! Finally, there was a fruit platter but I was already filled to the brim and could not stuff anything in anymore.

Kongkay went for dinner at this same place recently and except for what he called the stuffed egg pastry, everything else was different…but looked equally delicious. You can click this link to go and have a look. Huai Bin’s best friend, Ting Chuan had his wedding lunch reception here too and the dishes were mostly quite different too…except for the nutritious herbal black chicken soup that Kongkay also had.

After feasting on and on and on over the last few days, I am hoping to cut down on my food intake this coming week but the fact that dabai and terbulus are in season and available in abundance certainly is not going to help much! I have been invited to my former school’s annual dinner on Saturday but I guess I can always spend the evening croaking karaoke-ing away to the captive audience, just to make sure that I will not be gorging myself with too much food. LOL!!! 

Love you inside out…

Dabai is a seasonal fruit that if I’m not mistaken, is native to Central Sarawak and is something that Sibu town is noted for (even though the fruit may come from towns upriver like Song or Kapit). When I was younger, it used to be available around year end only but these days with the global climatic changes, we may get it a few times in a year.

Sibu's dabai (black olives)

Discerning dabai consumers will be very picky when buying the fruit. There are some very cheap ones going for a song while the good ones may cost up to RM20.00 a kilo. The prices will fluctuate according to the supply, so when there is a deluge in the market, it may be cheaper but the good ones may still linger around RM10 a kilo or more. Good dabai will usually have thick yellow flesh, thin skin and a very rich taste (lemak) owing to the high fat/oil content.

Somebody in his blog said that to cook it, you pour boiling water in it. That is definitely grossly incorrect. You do not boil it in water either for it would only become harder than ever. The fruit is soaked in warm water until it softens. The water must not be too hot or it will cook too fast and become too soft and the taste may be a bit sourish. Once the dabai is ready, you can add salt to it or alternatively, a bit of soy sauce and a sprinkling of sugar. Others may dip it in bottled fish sauce or the salty brine from buduk aur (fermented salted fish). 

Some people preserve dabai by soaking them in salt water but I do not fancy that at all. Other than that, the seeds are in fact edible as well…

Dabai seeds

You keep the seeds and after you have had a fair amount, you boil them in water for a while and then you drain away the water. After that, you have to cut the seeds open and that is the difficult part. My mother (and for that matter, my grandma and aunties) would hold each seed between her thumb and forefinger and chop the seeds open using a meat cleaver on a wooden chopping block. That, of course, is no easy feat as you will need to be pretty good at the skill or you may be in danger of losing either your thumb or finger.

Well, all is not lost. I love eating the kernels and where there is a will, there is a way. What I would do is to take a plastic chopping board and place the seed in the hole for the handle. A bit of the seed will be higher than the level of the board so when you bring down the cleaver, it will split the shell of the seed open without cutting it completely into halves. I usually put a towel or something underneath so that it will not be so slippery and the seeds will not fly all over the place…and the counter will not end up defaced or damaged.

Chopping dabai seeds

The kernel inside is oval-shaped with a brown-coloured skin, looking something like hazel nuts. You remove the skin and you will find the edible part that is light green in colour and tastes something like pistachios.

Chopped dabai seeds

They are very nice, no doubt about it…but cutting the seeds open can be be a chore, as well as a challenge. If only somebody will invent something like a nutcracker to split open dabai seeds. It certainly is a hard nut to crack! LOL!!!

Picture…

Now, before I get to the main focus of this post, please let me run through some bits and pieces of interest first…like this adaptation of the nyonya kuih serimuka, for instance…

3Q's serimuka with pulut hitam

Available at the 3Q-Takeaway, they use black glutinous/sticky rice (high in antioxidants) instead of the usual white ones. Rich enough and not too sweet, it’s only RM1 for one huge chunk of it (that I have cut into five pieces…so it’s 20 sen for a piece like that). The usual kuih serimuka in Sibu would be rubbery and not lemak at all…and the ones I got from the old lady along Green Road in Kuching (that used to be super delicious) were a disappointment too. Then at the coffee shop at the back in the same Sibu Medical Centre vicinity, you can get some pre-packed homemade nice kuihs too like this kuih wajid/wajik

Kuih wajid/wajik

I had bought some from the Malay stalls at the Central Market and also those by the roadside in the kampungs, but so far I had never come across one that I would say was as nice as what I used to have when I was young…until I came across this one. Very nice and fragrant, not too sweet…and sold at RM1.20 per packet of three. I would feel that’s a bit expensive – 40 sen per piece, so I guess I won’t be having that too often.

But we did not have those for breakfast on Saturday – Cooking4stp and I. Since she saw my last week’s post, she had made up her mind to go for dim sum at the Mitsu Tea House while she was in town…

Sibu's Mitsu Tea House

We had all that my friend and I had during my previous visit…except the chicken claws, and we had these nice looking buns instead…

Sibu's Mitsu's buns

I did not think they were very nice though as I did not like the strong ginger taste (For this same reason, I do not like their siaw long pau!)…but Cooking4stp said they were very nice…and the best part was that she picked up the tab! Well, since she insisted, I did not resist! LOL!!!

OK! Now to get on with what I was going to share with everyone in this post, Cooking4stp and I went to Delta Mall to drop by Popular Bookstore as she wanted to get a magazine for her in-flight reading pleasure. And when we went browsing through one of the shops there, I spotted this…

China product 1

If not for the picture on the box, I would never have guessed what was inside…

China product 2

I wonder who the artist was…Lee Na Dor…or Tai Bing Chi? ROTFLMAO!!!…Have a nice Sunday, everybody!

Come as you are…

It was Friday yesterday, so as usual, I was not having meat…but Cooking4stp was in town and going out would probably mean we would end up eating that. So for a change, I decided to cook a few dishes and ask her over to my place for dinner. Another advantage of having dinner at home is you do not have to dress up nicely and can just come as you are.

Now, what did I have in store for her? I cooked this cempedak masak lemak

STP's cempedak masak lemak

I do not know if cempedak has an English name but it is a fruit like nangka or jackfruit. I had it cooked with the usual ingredients and milk in place of santan (coconut milk). I also fried this vegetable dish of daun bandung (tapioca leaves) and anak jagung (baby corn)…

STP's daun bandung with baby corn

So sorry about the steam; I took the photo when it was piping hot! Then for my main dish, I conjured up this special dish of udang galah (freshwater prawns) cooked with tempuyak (fermented durian)…

STP's udang galah masak tempuyak

I know others have cooked it before and if I remember correctly, my missus has tried it once as well…but I never bothered to find out how to go about it. For one thing, I can never follow recipes and when I do, the dish will turn out to be a disaster! So I just added what I thought I should…and by George! It turned out very very nice indeed. You’d probably say I’m bragging but I think it was nicer than Ruby’s butter scotch prawns!

Other than my own home-cooked dishes, I also bought this Thai-style mihun with sambal petai from 3Q-Takeaway

3Q-Takeaway Thai-style mihun with sambal petai

and some kim kua koi (Chinese-style pumpkin cake) for dessert…

3Q-Takeaway pumpkin cake dessert

…and it being the dabai season, of course, we had some of those as well. Cooking4stp brought along some cheesecakes from the hotel where she was staying like this one, for instance…

C4STP's cheesecake 1

There were two other slices but by the time I remembered to take the photographs, we had finished almost all of one and the photo of the other turned out rather blur, so I have decided against posting it.

Well, what was her verdict on all the stuff that I had cooked? In case you’ll think I’m trying to blow my own horn, I’ll just let her comment personally herself. I think she should be back online on Monday when she gets back to the office. LOL!!!