The river…

One of my all-time favourite movies is “Tom Sawyer”, the musical starring Johnny Whitaker who was very popular in the days of black and white TV in some American sit-coms and the then-very-young Jodie Foster as Becky Thatcher – the girlfriend, with music by John Williams…and I love the theme song, “The River” by Charley Pride. You can click this link to listen to it but the song will only start somewhere in the middle of the video clip. Try catching the meaningful lyrics about a boy growing up to be a man – …only one golden time in his life is he free… – and that would be his childhood days, of course! Nice!

When I was growing up, my house was about 100 metres away from the river – a tributary of the massive Rejang that flows by Sibu town…and at that time, we had a whale of a time going swimming with our friends (Malay and Melanau) from the nearby kampungs. This rubberseeds’ photo from an earlier post of his certainly brings back a lot of pleasant memories to me…

Like in my younger days - rubberseeds' photo
Photo from rubberseeds.blogspot.com

…and there was a stream that flowed by our house. My mother taught me and my brother how to swim there. She just threw us into the water and pulled us up by the hair when we were drowning…and the moment we could catch our breath, she would let go again; we struggled to stay afloat and managed to learn how to swim in a jiffy – dogstyle! We only progressed to the big river when we were a bit older.

And on certain days, my maternal grandma and aunties would come to our house and with my mum and of course, my brother and me, we would all go nangok-ing in that same stream. The tide must not be too high; usually the water was around waist or knee-deep. Armed with our baskets, we would go into the stream and catch fish and shrimps like this….. 

Nangok 1 - Gundot's photo
Photo through the kind courtesy of Gundot

So, for the uninitiated, that is what is called “nangok” in Melanau. We did not care about how muddy and murky it was and we did not even think about any danger that could be lurking in the stream. All we knew then was it was so very exciting and so much fun…

Nangok 2 - Gundot's photo
Photo through the kind courtesy of Gundot

Sometimes we would even put our arms into the holes in the muddy bank and catch whatever fish that might be hiding inside. How come we never thought of snakes then, I wonder? Boys will be boys, I guess! Look! Fiq has caught a big prawn!!!…

Nangok 3 - Gundot's photo
Photo through the kind courtesy of Gundot

Of course, we were all wet and covered with mud. I guess that was part of the fun…but no, we did not get to be as bad as this… LOL!!!

Nangok 4 - Gundot's photo
Photo through the kind courtesy of Gundot

We would start from as far upstream as we could go right down to where the stream entered the river. Then we would go home with our catch and the feast would start as soon as we had had our baths and changed into our clean clothes. We would have rebus – some of the shrimps and fish boiled in water with chilli and belacan together with the paku (wild fern) that we would have plucked from the jungle that lined the stream or pais – the fish and shrimps wrapped in banana leaf and panggang (grilled)…and we would enjoy eating the very fresh and sweet luit (shrimps) raw (Some would still be jumping around! LOL!!!), dipped in a special sambal (dip) made with chillies, belacan (dried prawn paste) soy sauce and sugar. Here is a photo from another one of rubberseeds’ posts for those who haven’t the slightest idea what luit looks like…

Luit - rubberseeds' photo
Photo from rubberseeds.blogspot.com

That is why when I look at Tom Sawyer’s mischief and pranks, I think we were pretty much the same, more or less, when we were kids. Life was filled with so much fun, excitement and adventure…unlike the miserable sqeaky-clean children of today who would complain of the “stench” even when going past the wet market. I really wonder what kind of life they have – with tuition classes since kindergarten, this they can’t do and that they can’t touch and in a way, I sympathise with them for their lost childhood. Sadly, they will never experience all that joy that I had back then in that wonderful golden time when I lived in our house by the river…

Yummy yummy yummy…

Well, the other day my friend asked me to take him to buy a suitcase (as I know where to get suitcases at very special prices), so we agreed to go for breakfast first. We went to this Yum Yum Cafe, one of the shops in the Sibu Bus Station commercial area. They say that they have the best Foochow mee sua (longevity string noodles) in town but we did not have that. I had that there before and it was as nice as they said it was, but the portion was a bit small. My friend had pan mian, something that I do not really fancy but he said it was very delicious…

Pan mian @ Yum Yum, Sibu

His wife had this bowl of beef soup…

Beef soup @ Yum Yum, Sibu

…while I had the beef noodles, the dry variety…

Beef noodles (dry) @ Yum Yum, Sibu

I quite liked it and would not mind having it again. Of course, they just can’t compare with what I had in Kota Kinabalu but these are only RM3.50 each compared to RM7 over there. Upon leaving the place, when my friend turned round the corner, we spotted this in one of the blocks of new shops in the vicinity…

Rasa Sayang, Sibu

It certainly looked like Rasa Sayang is back in business. The last time Bongkersz was here, we went to the original venue but somebody else was running the place under a different name. We decided to give it a try, but unfortunately, what we had was a letdown. We could have much better kampua elsewhere! So without wasting any time, I went there the next morning and yes! It’s the ORIGINAL Rasa Sayang!!! Of course I had the kampua noodles…

Rasa Sayang kampua, Sibu

…and this bowl of pian sip aka kiaw in Kuching and wanton in other places…

Rasa Sayang's pian sip

Ooo…they were just as nice as I remembered them to be and both of those plus a glass of kopi-o peng kau (iced thick black coffee) came up to only RM5.60. Here’s another photo of what I had…

Rasa Sayang's kampua & pian sip

Coming to Sibu again, Bongkersz? This time, we’ll go for the real thing – the original Rasa Sayang kampua. After that, you will never settle for anything less! Yummy, yummy, yummy…!!!

P.S. If you remember the cabin-size baggage that I bought for RM50, Swiss Brand no less (Just click the above link to have a look, if you have forgotten!), my friend got one that was EXACTLY the same, Swiss Brand too but bigger (check-in size) and guess how much he paid for it? RM70.00! You can’t get it any cheaper elsewhere!!!

Have you ever (1)…

Have you ever seen one so big? It was about the size of my lower leg!!! Well, what I am talking about here is the freshwater fish that we can catch in the Rejang River that flows by Sibu town. In Hokkien, it is called sai seng, a name probably derived from the fact that a multitude of them would come to feast on what dropped into the water in the bygone days of floating toilets. The local name for it is ikan buris.

The sad thing is that these days, they are no longer so easily available, probably because of the polluted and mud-clogged water in the river. Sometimes we may get smaller ones of about 1 foot long and the biggest so far was about the size of my forearm. I do not know why there were so many at the market the other day; perhaps it was the spawning season…but there were at least 5 or 6 huge ones, going for RM28.00 a kilo.  I bought two of almost 2 kilos each, so that came up to around RM100.00. I admit that was being extraordinarily extravagant but I probably will not come across anymore THAT size as long as I live. There were smaller ones at RM20 a kilo though…but I did not buy those.

So I cooked one of the two that I bought. I deep-fried a section for my father…

STP's deep-fried ikan buris

He is not very adventurous in his eating habits, so he prefers it simple as such. I had cut off the tail and I cooked it together with the top one-third of the fish, including the head, with kunyit (tumeric) and assam keping kering (dried tamarind slices)as a sourish soup dish…

STP's ikan buris masak kunyit

I gave that to my mum, saving a bit for myself and my missus for dinner. But that was not all! There was still the middle section of the fish. Now, the other day, I bought a pais ikan buris (the fish cooked in banana leaf) for RM2 at the Ramadhan Bazaar. When I opened the packet, there was A fish inside the size of my thumb with sliced Bombay onions and serai (lemon grass). It was very delicious but there simply was not enough to satiate my craving. So, I decided to try and do it myself… 

STP's baked ikan buris - before

I did not have any banana leaf, so I used aluminum foil instead. Chef Wan, on one of his shows, said it would be ok…but I’m sure it would be much nicer if I had used the leaf instead. After rubbing the slab of fish with salt, I placed it in the foil, put the sliced Bombay onions and serai (lemon grass) and a few cili padi (fire chillies) over it, wrapped it up and put it in the pre-heated oven…and turned off the heat. After an hour, I took it out and this was what it looked like…

STP's baked ikan buris - after

Gosh! It was SO very sweet and SO very lemak (fat…but then fish fat is supposed to be good for health). Nice, very very nice indeed! And if you noticed, that was all from ONE fish. I still have the other one in the freezer and maybe I’ll cook that with daun bandung (tapioca leaves) and baby corn but that will have to wait till another day… Stay tuned! LOL!!!

Sorry seems to be the hardest word…

Hari Raya greeting
Image from http://adlisyahril.blogspot.com

No man is an island
Everyone is everyone’s neighbour
A slip of the tongue is all it takes
To get someone into a lot of trouble
We must be sensitive
To the feelings of others
We must not use harsh words
Or make brash remarks
For what has come out of one’s mouth
Can never ever be retracted
So we must look before we leap
And think before we speak
But we are all humans
We all make mistakes
So in a moment of insensitivity
If I have said anything
That may have hurt your feelings
I plead for your forgiveness
For we are all brothers and sisters
And what better time than this
To say that I am truly sorry.

SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDILFITRI
MAAF ZAHIR DAN BATIN.

Malaysians in harmony
Image from http://www.hospitals-malaysia.org

Burning love…

I love barbecues…or to be more specific, I love the food. The last one I went to was way back in April. However, I must say that I cannot stand the heat so I would prefer it if there is somebody around to do the barbecuing instead of me…

Barbecue 1

It is much nicer overseas in the temperate region as it is cooler…and in places like New Zealand, you get to enjoy the thick, juicy steaks of beef or lamb. Here, all we have are imported frozen lamb and beef and even though we may be able to get hold of some fresh supply of the latter, usually we will not have the luxury of such generous cuts of the meat. Well, never mind for at least, we can have all the chicken we want. The least we can expect to find at barbecues here are frozen sausages and chicken wings as well…

Barbecue 2

…or some pork belly or spare ribs even. When nicely grilled till they turn a nice golden colour, they can be absolutely delicious…

Barbecue 3

But with all the meat, it would be advisable to prepare some coleslaw to go with it…

Barbecue 4

…or some potato salad and rojak timun (cucumber)…

Barbecue 5

My apologies to all those who do not consume pork because of religion or for whatever reason, but for the rest of you who are not quite convinced that barbecues are your kind of thing, perhaps the photo below of the huge slab of pork belly will convert you…

Barbecue 6

Can you honestly tell me that you are not drooling? ROTFLMAO!!!

P.S. Try that with sambal belacan (prawn paste). Ooooo…I assure you it is absolutely divine!!! Slurpsszzzz!!!!

A different corner (1)…

Whenever I went to the area behind the Rejang Medical Centre here in Sibu, I would usually go to Mitsu Tea House for the dim sum or the coffee shop across the road for the beef noodles or the char kway teow or even Sushi Tie for Japanese food whenever my daughter was back in town. But there is another coffee shop, the Sing Long Cafe, at a different corner in one of the blocks of shophouses in the area. I had gone there once before a long time ago when I heard from people that they had very nice homemade fish balls (mackerel/ikan tenggiri) and I remember having had some nice char siew noodles there…but I have not been there since. For one thing, it is usually very crowded and I do not fancy having to wait for a long time.

However, I saw Huai Bin’s recent post on it, and today being a Sunday, I decided to drop by the shop again to check it out. So there we were, my missus and I, after the church service this morning and we had this bowl of yong tofu for RM6.00…

Sing Long Cafe's yong tofu, Sibu

It was very nice and I particularly loved the fish balls but I wished they had not put the seaweed in the soup as I did not really fancy the taste despite the fact that people say it is good for health. My missus had this plate of char siew noodles…

Sing Long Cafe's char siew noodles, Sibu

…while I had roast duck noodles, at RM4.00 per plate…

Sing Long Cafe's roast duck noodles, Sibu

(Nice plates! Unfortunately, they’re melamine!) The noodles were nice…but I do not recall them using those huge Hokkien-mee noodles in the past. I think I would prefer the smaller wanton-mee or kampua/kolo mee variety. For one thing, despite the crowd, our orders came in a jiffy…so that was not a problem at all.

On the home front, not much has been going on. My missus cooked a huge bowl of steamed minced pork custard with soy sauce, so we had to have that for 3 to 4 days. I keep reminding her that there are only two of us in the house but she has fixed recipes and does not know how to adjust according to the number of people eating. But on no-meat Friday last week, I cooked this dish of steamed fish in Foochow ang chiew (red wine)…

STP's steamed fish in Foochow red wine

…and prepared this ladies’ fingers’ ulam belacan

STP's ladies' fingers ulam belacan

I know! I know! The two dishes were not quite compatible…but I was too lazy to fry the veg…and I love blanched ladies’ fingers eaten with sambal belacan (prawn paste dip) and we finished all of that! I guess you can just call it the blending of the cultures.

Well, I bet those of you who have not taken the whole week off and are still going back to work tomorrow, would be quite happy that it’s not going to be a long, dreary one as you will be getting a few days off for Hari Raya!!! Whatever it is, do have a nice week, everybody! 

9 to 5…

Many people moan and groan about their jobs. I bet many of you have heard the parody of James Blunt’s “You’re beautiful”. Well, if you haven’t, then you can click this link and see how much actually applies to you…especially that bit about surfing the internet! LOL!!!

Those of you who are familiar with Max Ehrmann’s poem, DESIDERATA, would probably remember this line, “Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.” (Those of you who somehow, have NEVER heard of the poem can click this link and listen to it being recited by a US talk-show host, Les Crane. It was very popular on the airwaves in the early 70s.)

Be grateful that you have a job; many do not. Be happy that your job is a lot easier than many others. And be thankful that you will not find this on your desk when you get back to work on Monday morning…

MEMO: New Office Policy

Effective 1 October 2008

DRESS CODE

You are advised to come to work dressed according to your salary.

If we see you wearing Prada shoes and carrying a Gucci bag, we will assume you are doing well financially and therefore do not need a raise.

If you dress poorly, you need to learn to manage your money better so that you may buy nicer clothes, and therefore you do not need a raise.

If you dress just right, you are right where you need to be and therefore you do not need a raise.

 

SICK DAYS

We will no longer accept a doctor’s statement as proof of sickness. If you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work.

 

PERSONAL DAYS

Each employee will receive 104 personal days a year. They are called Saturdays and Sundays.

 

BEREAVEMENT LEAVE

This is no excuse for missing work. There is nothing you can do for your dead friends, relatives or co-workers.  Every effort should be made to have non-employees attend the funeral in your place. In rare cases where employee involvement is necessary, the funeral should be scheduled in the late afternoon. We will be glad to allow you to work through your lunch hour so that you may be allowed to leave one hour earlier.

 

BATHROOM BREAKS

Too much time is spent in the toilet. There is now a strict three-minute time limit in the stalls. At the end of three minutes, an alarm will sound, the toilet paper roll will retract, the stall door will open and a picture will be taken. After your second offense, your picture will be posted on the company bulletin board under the “Chronic Offenders” category. Anyone caught smiling in the picture will be sectioned under the company’s mental health policy.

 

LUNCH BREAK

Skinny people get 30 minutes for lunch as they need to eat more so that they can look healthy.

Normal size people get 15 minutes to get a balanced meal to maintain their average figure.

Chubby people get 5 minutes for lunch because that is all the time needed to drink a glass of Tummy Trim!

 

Thank you for your loyalty to our company. We are here to provide a positive employment experience.  Therefore, all questions, comments, concerns, complaints, frustrations, irritations, aggravations, insinuations, allegations, accusations, contemplations, consternation and input should be directed elsewhere.

 

THE MANAGEMENT

 

…ROTFLMAO!!!

 

 

(Memo received via email. Original source unknown)