Show me the way…

All right, I’ll show you the way to cook your own kampua at home! This is mainly for the benefit of those not from Sarawak who have been asking what kampua actually is. You can buy the uncooked noodles from the shops or the market but those will not keep too long, so perhaps you should buy the dried ones sold in sealed packets in the sundry shop. Well, if it is not available in your part of the country or if you’re overseas, you can just use any of those egg noodles that you can find in the supermarket…

Egg noodles

Peel and slice one shallot and fry in a tablespoon or two of cooking oil (For health reasons, people these days do not use lard anymore…and do not use olive oil as it has a peculiar not-so-pleasant taste!) till the sliced shallot turns golden brown and pour everything onto a plate. Add a tablespoon of light soy sauce (chio cheng). You may want to use dark soy sauce instead;after all, they sell that at the kampua stalls though we never heard of people eating kampua like that during our younger days! Add a tablespoon of chilli sauce, half a teaspoon of msg (monosodium glutamate) and sprinkle chopped spring onions. Boil the noodles (I cooked two pieces!) and when they are soft enough, drain and mix the noodles with the ingredients. Toss thoroughly…and there you have it! Your plate of kampua!

Homecooked kampua

Well, I did not bother about the shallot and I did not have any spring onions in the house…but it did not matter as it still tasted nice. You can boil some meat and cut that into (paper) thin slices and put a few of those on top of the noodles. In the past, they would colour the sides red so that it would look like char siew. Keep the stock, add a bit of chio cheng/salt and msg to it and sprinkle some chopped spring onions for the soup; this will definitely be a lot nicer than the salt + msg water they usually give you in the shops with your kampua.

In the past, the kampua sellers used those local made chilli sauce sold in stone jars but today they just use the usual ones from the surpermarkets, but they buy that in huge tins and in bulk so they probably get it cheaper. I always use this garlic chilli sauce, Kampong Koh Brand made in Sitiawan Perak as it is hotter and a lot nicer than those sweet ones. Don’t ask me to explain what “Pain 100%” means…because I do not know!

Kampong Koh chilli sauce

Well, the weekend’s here. Anybody going to try and cook your own kampua? The noodles cost 80 sen (40 sen per piece) and I had an egg to go with it, so it cost RM1.10 only. A lot cheaper (and nicer) than in the shops! LOL!!! Here’s the closeup shot…

Homecooked kampua closeup

Well, I guess everybody knows that it’s no-meat Friday today…and I’ve a confession to make. I don’t know why but suddenly I had this craving for something…and even though I may look like it, I’m certainly NOT pregnant! So I headed to this fast food restuarant near my house…

Sugar Bun Pedada Sibu

Wah! Sibu ladies carry such huge bags kah? Must have lots of money hor!!! LOL!!! Anyway, I bought this there…

Sugar Bun fish burger

Gosh! I can’t even remember when I last had a fish burger. Probably sometime last year, believe it or not! But given the choice, I would rather have this than all those beef or chicken burgers…and the fish fillet in the burger elsewhere has a strange texture like rubber! Anyway, that cost RM4.90 but I had to pay RM5.15 because of the 5% government tax. Didn’t they say they would abolish that? Never mind! Take my 25 sen and use it and all that you squeeze out of poor, innocent people like me to gold-plate your coffins!!! Hahahahaha!!!

It was expensive no doubt…but am I not entitled to pamper myself once in a while? After all, just one chomp into it…

Sugar Bun fish burger 2

…and I was up in Seventh Heaven! Please forgive me…for I have sinned! ROTFLMAO!!!

Happy together…

The other day, I went to the Rejang Park bazaar to send a letter at the post office branch there…and I spotted a stall selling the Sibu Foochow tee-piang. I enquired about the price and the lady told me that I could get 5 for RM1…

Sibu Foochow tee-piang

I thought that was reasonable, considering that they would need soya beans, cooking oil (which is getting expensive) to fry the tee-piang in and all that. Then I went round the corner to the kompia shop (the one facing the market, next to the back portion of Quality Cake Shop). Good grief! How they’ve shrunk!!!

Sibu Foochow kom-pia

And the price! Now, for RM1.00, you can get 4 only, believe it or not! I remember I used to buy at this same place – 7 for a ringgit! Gee! It’s just salted dough baked in a traditional open oven! I never really fancy that anyway, so you can bet that would be the last time I would eat kompia

Loitering around the vicinity, I noticed that one coffee shop (I think they have at least 10 in that small “square”!!) seemed to be enjoying really good business… 

The cafe

The name would probably send Huai Bin craving for his Heineken! LOL!!! If I’m not mistaken, the ownership of that cafe has changed hands a few times and I’ve eaten there before. Not too bad but nothing to shout about! It is probably under another new owner and now, it is just one shop lot left (Used to be two!) but that day, it was pretty crowded so I decided to check out what nice stuff they might have at the stalls. I met an ex-student (Now a teacher in a secondary school here, in spite of me! LOL!!!) ta-pauing something from the tom yam stall and she said it was very nice. However, I was not in the mood for something strong and spicy, so I settled for this stall… 

The stall

Now! Now! That sweet young thing was a customer, so don’t start insinuating that I chose to patronise that stall because of her! He he he!!! They had kampua at RM2.00 only and a whole lot of other things and in the end, I decided to try the mee sup perut sapi or gu tor mee therng (noodles in cow’s stomach soup) at RM3.50 but I wanted the extras for an additional RM1.00…

Noodles in cow's stomach soup

It was actually a bit darker than that but I think the colours must have been affected by the steam. They used the big yellow noodles and the soup was slightly brownish…and inside, there was a “golden” egg (deep fried hard-boiled egg) as well as slices of gu tor (cow’s stomach) and pork liver, along with some too tor (pig’s intestines) and a couple of meat and fish balls plus a bit of green vegetables. Was it nice? Well, the following photo says it all…

Finished to the last drop

It was absolutely delicious, and perhaps because it was served in a claypot, the longer I took to finish it, the nicer it tasted! Given a choice between this and bak-kut teh where they’ll give you two pork bones to wrestle with, I would much rather go for this.

So, anybody would like to ask me out for breakfast? I can take you there anytime and we can be happy together… LOL!!!

UPDATE
Stella and Kpenyu were talking about this Kompia Ah Pek from long ago here in Sibu and rubberseeds have kindly emailed me a photograph of the man…
Sibu Kompia Ah Pek

This was the message attached in the email…

I am sending you an old photo taken in late 1970s of the old Kompia Ah Pek. He was seen here walking home after finishing selling his popular Kompia. He should be staying in Hoe Ping Road near the Garden Hotel. The wooden box on his head contained the Kompia. The timber frame on his right shoulder was the legs for the wooden box. The basket on his left shoulder contained some dishes, plastic bags etc. I hope you can put this photo in your blog for your readers.

 

Best regards,

rubberseeds

Thanks a lot, rubberseeds…

This I promise you…

I know! I know! This is a song that people sing at weddings but the only other song that I know that has the word “promise” is the oldie, “Broken Promises” (If I’m not mistaken, it was sung by Del Shannon) and it is not very appropriate as no promises have been broken. The promise in question is the one Huai Bin made to me sometime back. Nope! He didn’t propose to me or anything like that, thank goodness…but I bet some girl(s) out there must be wishing and hoping he would pop the question. Right or not, Huai Bin? LOL!!!

Well, he promised he would treat me to Sheraton fish head curry. This dish is really very nice, I assure you. My cousin and her family came once and I took them there. Her hubby would take photographs of all alluring dishes even though he was not a blogger, but when it was served, it looked so appetising that he dived in immediately and forgot all about “saying grace”. Anyway, the date was set…and I was all ready to go when disaster struck!

Sheraton was closed for a few days, so Huai Bin called and asked me, the so-called walking food directory, to suggest an alternative…and since it was fish head curry that we wanted, I proposed Phoenix Court, the halal (No pork!) Chinese restaurant at Paramount Hotel. So as promised, we had the fish head curry there… 

Paramount fish head curry

Rumour had it (I don’t know how true this is!) that the chef actually came from Sheraton and everyone who had a craving for the dish followed him to this new place…only to find that it was not as nice. They claimed that only the lady boss at Sheraton knew the secret recipe and she would prepare the ingredients, the spices and what not…and the chef only cooked it. Everybody was quite disappointed and headed back to the old place for their favourite dish…but the chef has improved somewhat and it was not too bad. I still prefer Sheraton’s though. But all was not lost for Huai Bin ordered another dish as well…

Paramount giant prawns

This is one of Phoenix Court’s specialties: giant-sized fresh water prawns (udang galah) in their special thick gravy. Here’s a close-up photo of the dish…

Paramount giant prawns closeup

It was out of this world, I tell you! Very very nice!!! And the dish came with this none-like-it-around crusty bun for us to dip in the gravy and savour the incredible flavour…..

Bun for Paramount giant prawns

We finished everything and she-who-would-not-be-named used the bread to “wipe” the plate clean. It was THAT nice! I would not compare it with Ruby’s butter scotch prawns as they are completely different dishes altogether. Both are definitely must-haves, so you’ll just have to make a choice. This price of this one at Paramount, however, was a bit steep…but never mind, I was not the one paying! Hahahahaha!!!

I told Huai Bin to order just the fish dish for the four of us but he said that I should not be so “khek khi” (stand on ceremony). In the end, we did not finish the fish and there was a lot of fried tofu left. Everybody was just too full.

Well, thanks for the dinner, Huai Bin! We’ll go for that elusive Sheraton fish head curry some other time, won’t we?…..

I got it from my mama…

Indeed, I learnt how to cook, including all those ethnic kampung culinary delights (that I have featured in some of my earlier posts) from my mama. In the past, when I used to entertain at home quite regularly, I would ask her to make this very simple dish…and without fail, it would go down very well with my guests. All of them would love it so much and sing its praises. This is a vegetable dish – cucumber, to be exact, with sambal udang kering (dried prawns sambal).

You will need some chillies, sambal belacan (prawn paste) and sugar and you pound all these together…

Chillies, belacan and sugar

and then you add the udang kering (dried prawns) that you have soaked in hot water and pound that as well…

Rajang dried prawns

Those of you from outside Sarawak may wonder why the udang kering (dried prawns) looks different. This is the type we have here – huge and straight…and quite expensive, around RM60-70 a kg. We call it Rajang hay bee (Rajang dried prawns) in Hokkien. I would buy some for my friends in West Malaysia everytime I went over and each time, they would ask, “Why are they straight?” I would just reply, “Because they are not gay!” LOL!!! Catch the drift? Ooo…they love it so much, especially with their beer or liquor! Well, normally, it looks quite red but after soaking, it loses some of its colour. So after pounding that together with the ingredients earlier, this is what you will get…

Pounded ingredients

Then, you will need some lime. Cut them in halves, remove the seeds and squeeze in the juice. Mix it thoroughly with the pounded ingredients…

Sour lime

Having done that, you can take the cucumber and cut it into slices…

Sliced cucumber

Then you arrange the slices on a plate and distribute the sambal udang kering evenly on top. If you have a lot of cucumber, you can arrange them in layers and put some of the sambal in between…

Sliced cucumber with dried prawn sambal

I like keeping it in the fridge before serving, so it will nice and cold…and absolutely delicious! Easy, isn’t it? No hassle! No cooking required! No oil, no salt, no msg!!! You think you wanna give it a try?

Dust in the wind (1)…

I used to be house proud and I enjoyed keeping it spick and span. On weekends especially, you would find me with the radio or cd player on, playing my favourite songs and I would clean the house from top to bottom, putting away everything in its own place and arranging it all nicely.

Cleaning the house/dramamath's photo@www.flickr.com

I loved having guests over, maybe for a steamboat dinner…

steamboat/Exif's photo@www.flickr.com

…or a popiah party…

Popiah/Camemberu's photo@www.flickr.com

…or some home-cooked Sarawak laksa

Sarawak laksa dinner/jin-n-juice's photo@www.flickr.com

…but eventually, I got tired of it. “If you do not make such a mess, then there would not be very much to clean up,” I would grumble over and over again but all my nagging fell on deaf ears. So in the end, I just gave up…and learned to live with it, or sort of! Now my house is more often than not, a horrible mess and I do not dare to ask people to come around anymore…

Well, Kpenyu sent me this via email; I wonder what you all think of it…

Remember, a layer of dust protects the wood beneath it and a house becomes a home when you can write ‘I love you’ on the furniture.

I used to spend at least 8 hours every weekend making sure things were just perfect – ‘in case someone came over’. Finally I realized one day that no-one ever came over; they were all out living life and having fun!
NOW, when people visit, I don’t have to explain the ‘condition’ of my home. They are more interested in hearing about the things I’ve been doing while I was away living life and having fun.

If you haven’t figured this out yet, please heed this advice.

Life is short…Enjoy it!

Dust if you must,

but wouldn’t it be better to paint a picture or write a letter,
bake cookies or a cake and lick the spoon or plant a seed?
Ponder the difference between want and need!

Dust if you must,

but there’s not much time . . . .with gin to drink, rivers to swim and mountains to climb, music to hear and books to read, friends to cherish and a life to lead.

Dust if you must,

but the world’s out there with the sun in your eyes,
the wind in your hair, a shower of rain…This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must,

but bear in mind, old age will come and it’s not kind…and when you go – and go you must – you, yourself will make more dust!

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, life is short, so party we must!

Personally, I do not in any way prescribe by that kind of thinking. Even after all this time, I still long for a nice, neat and clean house, one that I will not feel bad about inviting friends over to…and share some delightful evenings together over a delicious meal that I would cook myself. Some things never change!…Sigh!!!

The times they are a-changing…

When I was a young boy, kampua was 50 cents a plate with meat and 30 cents without and coffee was 20 cents a cup. One could enjoy breakfast for less than one dollar (That was the currency we used then!). Gradually, it went up to two ringgit and then three…and the other day, I stopped by a coffee shop to have a plate of mee goreng Melayu (fried noodles Malay-style) and kopi-o peng (black coffee) and it cost me RM4.20…

Mee goreng melayu

The worst thing was that neither the noodles nor the coffee were that great…and they certainly were not worth the money. With that consideration in mind, I think from now onwards, I would just prepare my own breakfast at home…and eat out once a week after the church service on Sundays. Like yesterday, I had this bowl of Sarawak laksa at Sibu Thomson Corner and gee! The price had gone up to RM4.70! Good grief!!!

Sibu Thomson Corner laksa

Eating out once a week on Sundays would be exactly like how it was when I was little. Life was a lot simpler and cheaper (and healthier?) then. These days, we eat out with the family so often that it has ceased to be anything special. During our younger days, we would hope and pray that somebody in the family would get married so that we would be able to tag along with our parents to the wedding banquet. Nowadays, the kids would sulk and say, “Not again!…Boring!” They are not in the least interested and I guess we can’t blame them!

So it’s back to home-cooked meals for me…and for breakfast, I can have fried rice if there’s any leftover from the previous day, or I can select from an array of choices…

Oodles of noodles

I can have instant noodles or kway teow, or some mee sua perhaps…or I can use the egg noodles to make something like kampua (with soy sauce). For example, I cooked myself this bowl of kway teow soup…

kway teow soup

It only costs 80 sen a packet and if you add the cost of the egg – say 30 sen, that will only cost RM1.10 (excluding the coriander leaves). Incidentally, two half-boiled eggs at Thomson Corner here cost RM1.40, that is 70 sen each!!! Goodness gracious! That’s more expensive than gerrie’s free-range eggs!!!

Anyway, to get back to what I was rambling about – making and eating breakfast at home, that is, I have taken out my 27-year-old coffee percolator to brew my own coffee…

Fresh coffee brew

How much is kopi-o peng now in the shops? RM1.50 a glass? If it is nice, like Ruby’s, then it isn’t so bad…but then more often than not, it tastes like dark-coloured sugar syrup. I won’t say that it tastes like ditch water (even though it sometimes looks like that) as I’ve never had that before! Anyway,I used to take instant coffee as I was too lazy and when I was working, I did not have the time (nor the patience) but now I have all the time in the world, and instant coffee is getting way too expensive too! Here in Sibu, we can get very nice ground coffee at around RM15-16 a kilo at Mui Hock; in fact, Ruby also buys the coffee powder from there. Incidentally, there are more expensive and cheaper varieties, if you’re interested, but a friend of mine gave me 1 kg beginning of last month…or was it towards the end of May? Now that will last for quite sometime before I’ll have to go out and buy my own. Ah! Just like old times…when I was a kid, and every morning, my mum would have a pot of freshly-brewed coffee on the dining room table and the fragrant aroma would fill the whole house! Ummmm!!!!…..Some things don’t have to change!

Some like it hot…

Well, I most certainly do! That was why when my mother-in-law gave us two huge pieces of bay ka or ikan tenggiri (mackerel) that day, we used those to cook some assam (tamarind) fish curry. It seems that my in-laws do not like fish which, of course, works in our favour. Well, we did not bother to go out and buy the usual veg for this dish – ladies’ fingers, brinjal, pineapples – and to replace all that, we just threw in some durian flowers that we got from her as well.

Assam fish curry

To go with that, I had some four-angle beans so I pounded some sambal belacan (prawn paste with chilli)and had that for ulam (dip). That was yummy!!

4-angle beans ulam

However, instead of taking the veg raw, I steamed it first…like what I would usually do with ladies’ fingers and brinjal when I have them for ulam. Don’t!!! Not with four-angle beans! Just take it raw like cucumber…Nice and crunchy!!!

So, apart from the nitty-gritty ingredients used, basically it was a free meal. My foster-cousin in the kampung gave me those four-angle beans. In view of the rising prices of things, she (and my aunt in the kampung too) have started planting vegetables around their houses…which works in my favour as well for they will always spare me some.

It certainly is good to see some positively-inclined people taking measures to enable them to sail through the economic slowdown without feeling the pinch that much. If you still insist on carrying on the way you are used to regardless, shopping and dining and spending like there is no tomorrow, then that is your prerogative; just don’t grumble about the escalating expenses that you incur. It all boils down to a matter of having the right attitude and sense of responsibility and self-control and setting priorities. We should be able to differentiate between our needs…and our wants!

Oops! Sorry I digressed…..