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!!!

All that she wants…

Well, Cooking4stp flew into town this afternoon amidst the storm that caused flash floods and massive traffic jams all over town as a result of which it took us more than an hour to get from the airport to the hotel where she was staying.

Still, nothing could stop us from going out for dinner to the place of her choice and having read all my posts on all the delicious food there, she wanted to go to the Ruby Restaurant, no less! She would like to have the bitter gourd with salted eggs that she had the last time she was in town years ago…

Prior to this, she never had bitter gourd all her life, so the fact that she actually wanted to have it again is testament to its superior taste. Then, she wanted to have the butter scotch prawn balls…

Somehow or other, she did not have that the last time, probably because she was too lazy to remove the shell or did not like to get too messy whilst wrestling with the prawns. She did not like lamb, so we decided to have a go with spare ribs instead…

The mayo with lime sauce that we usually had with lamb actually blended very well with the pork. C4stp commented that she never really liked mayonnaise but she found the sauce very nice indeed. Then she wanted to try the Thai-style midin that I had last week

…and to wash all that down, we had the sea cucumber soup.

My missus tagged along for the dinner and for the three of us, that came up to RM39.00 for the food alone – RM13.00 per head, that is…and the advantage of going out for dinner with ladies, they nibbled like mice and guess who ate the lion’s share! LOL!!!

Going out of my head…

BRAIN DAMAGING HABITS

1 No breakfast
People who do not take breakfast are going to have a lower sugar level. This leads to an insufficient supply of nutrients to the brain, causing brain degeneration.

2 Overeating (Oops!!!)
It causes hardening of the brain arteries, leading to a decrease in mental power.

3 Smoking (Oops again!!!)
It causes multiple brain shrinkage and may lead to Alzheimer disease.

4 High sugar consumption (Oh dear!)
Too much sugar will interrupt the absorption of proteins and nutrients causing malnutrition and may interfere will brain development.

5 Air pollution
The brain is the largest oxygen consumer in our body. Inhaling polluted air decreases the supply of oxygen to the brain, bringing about a decrease in brain efficiency.

6 Sleep deprivation
Sleep allows our brain to rest. Long term deprivation from sleep will accelerate the death of brain cells.

7 Lacking in stimulating thoughts
(Those who memorise their way through exams, please take note!)
Thinking is the best way to train our brain. The lack of brain stimulation thoughts may cause brain shrinkage.

8 Talking rarely
Intellectual conversations will promote the efficiency of the brain.

Extracted from a recently-received email. Author and source unknown.

Where have all the flowers gone (2)…

If you may recall, in my previous post under this title, I was talking about durian flowers. Well, it looks like my mother-in-law’s durian tree is flowering again, so I get to eat the flowers. The other day, “inspired’ by the midin I had at the Ruby Restaurant a couple of nights ago, I decided to make some Thai-style durian flower salad. I boiled some water and after putting in the durian flowers, I brought it back to boil and after simmering for a while, I drained away the water…

STP's blanched durian flowers

Then I pounded some pre-soaked udang kering (dried prawns) with chillies and a bit of belacan (dried prawn paste) and mixed that with the durain flowers. After that, I cut some shallots into thin slices and some chillies as well, and added all that in as well. Having done that, I cut some kalamansi/lime and squeezed the juice over everything and mixed it all thoroughly. Finally, I deep-fried some ikan bilis/pusu (anchovies) and put that in too…

STP's Thai-style durian flower salad

It was nice – sour and spicy, fragrant from the dried prawns and the anchovies…but something was missing. I know! They usually have roasted peanuts in the Thai-style salad and I did not have any of that. Never mind! Next time I’ll just grab a tin from the shops and sprinkle some over it.

Then, yesterday, my in-laws gave us some more of the flowers, so I decided to cook something different this time. I pounded two shallots, four cloves of garlic, 1 cm ginger and 1 chilli…and I got some serai (lemon grass) and crushed the ends and some curry leaves. Then I heated up some oil in a wok and fried the pounded ingredients until golden-brown and fragrant before adding in the lemon grass and some of the curry leaves. After a while, I put in the durian flowers. Incidentally, I had also added some baby corn, so there would be enough to go round…

STP's durian flower curry 1

I added half a tablespoon of curry powder to that and after mixing it well into everything, I added water and some ikan bilis (anchovies) stock. Finally, I added a bit of evaporated milk (in place of santan/coconut milk) and let it simmer for a while for the gravy to thicken. Then it was ready to serve…

STP's durian flower curry 2

It would definitely be nicer with a bit of udang kering (dried prawns) and belacan (dried prawn paste), but I wanted to give some to my mum and those stuff would trigger off her allergy. It was still very nice though and went perfectly well with rice. Perhaps you would like to give it a try?

The call…

I was enjoying my afternoon tea that day – sandwiches with mashed sardines and thinly sliced fresh shallots and chillies…when the telephone rang. Darn!!! I grudgingly went to receive the call…

Telephone

“Hello, Mr ***!” a woman’s voice was heard on the other end of the line. “I understand you are an expert in choral speaking.” It was an ENGLISH TEACHER and she did not even have the decency to introduce herself nor did she tell me how she got my number. She just said she was from a primary school, that was all.

For one thing, she spoke in that unnatural saccharin-sweet tone that came across as most pretentious and hypocritical. It simply pisses me off really. I do not know why some people (women?) do that for it always conjures images of a vampire on the prowl, going all out to suck my blood…and I would switch into a defensive mode right away.

I told her quite truthfully that my school took part only once because after that year, the Education Director at the time stopped the annual competition for secondary schools as there was a big hoo-ha in Kuching over the judges’ decision and they were fighting tooth and claw, so much so that they started to refer to the activity as “quarrel-speaking”. Over the years, I had been more into debates and public speaking competitions, I told her. I also did not know a thing when I first started. I just plodded on and on, learning slowly bit by bit as I went along.

But she was persistent and kept asking me how to go about it and whether I had any texts. Gee! Did she expect things to be handed to her on a silver platter? Did she expect eveything to just drop down from the sky onto her lap? Well, woman, even if I have, what makes YOU think I will give it to you? My patience was wearing thin…but still, I told her calmly to go to the technology section of the Education Department and borrow the video tapes and cds of past competitions and listen, but she said that they were not clear.

“Well, if that’s the case,” I said, “you will just have to write your own text.” Finally, THE MOMENT OF TRUTH! She whined that they had been taking part for four years and losing and the GB (guru besar or headmaster/mistress) was not happy at all about it. FOUR YEARS? Where have you been, woman? This choral speaking thingy has been around for so long, ever since my daughter was in primary school (and she took part!!).

Obviously, this wretched woman had other GBs before this who did not give a damn whether they participated or not…and obviously, she is one of the MANY teachers like that around, responsibility shirkers whom my former principal would term as “tai chi masters”, pushing everything to everybody else! And it is quite obvious too, the present GB just came four years ago and forced her to get the kids to join, and since they never won, the GB is not too happy with her and probably taking it out on her.

I just told her that if that was the case, she could just go on losing…and finally, she got the message loud and clear and abruptly ended the call and hung up rudely! No apology for disturbing me nor a word of thanks for my time, nothing! I do not see why I should help her. I do not even know who she is…as she did not even have the courtesy to tell me her name. And what will I get in return? Nothing, I bet…knowing the likes of her. Hey, woman! If you’re willing to give me half of your monthly salary, do call me again. Otherwise, F**K off!!!! And those of you who have my contact numbers, please, for heaven’s sake, do NOT give them to such kind of people who give teachers a bad name. The Chinese will say that such individuals say kay nui see bor, pang kay sai see oo! (Direct translation: Lay chicken eggs, don’t have; pass chicken shit, got!)…and just when I was enjoying my afternoon tea! Drats!!! Some people just know how to spoil your day!