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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Mom's Sambal Bak Chang

It's bak chang season again, and it's common for households to start making preparations to make these delicious rice dumplings from now onwards. There are many ingredients to buy and prepare, and it takes, of course, more than a day to make them.

Second Aunt's made rice dumplings at least 2 weeks ago, and had given away lots of them. Mom followed suit, and started making hers last week. Besides making her usual bak chang, this year Mom made some sambal ones - it'a just pork and dried prawns and chillies and curry powder and spices ... Lol, I do not know exactly what went in there because I was not involved in the process ...

Steamed and cooked 

Sambal Bak Chang

Mom is pretty inconsistent. Sometimes her Bak Chang would be yum, but sometimes not. This time around, Mom took pains to ensure that the filling was well-balanced in flavour. She got Dad to be the taster .... I got roped in as well and so was Second Aunt. After making sure that the filling was ok, then only Mom wrapped the dumplings up. All of us enjoyed the Sambal Bak Chang this time. :))

Monday, May 30, 2016

Teochew Girl's Char Kueh Tiaw

I was having dinner with my family at a Parents' Day function at the KPCA Hall recently. The food, catered by It Hng Teochew Restaurant was quite rather unenjoyable ....

Top left to right: Noodles, chicken soup
Bottom left to right : Combination platter, braised pork trotters

Of the four dishes, the noodles were yum. Only simple ingredients like chives, beansprouts and mushrooms were used, but the noodles had a distinct peppery flavour that was quite pleasant. I liked the chicken soup, which had a mild flavour of herbs - but my parents and my aunts found the soup too bland. In the combination platter, I thought the deep-fried wantons were tasty; the other items weren't that impressive; Second Aunt liked the braised trotters - which was a savoury version. I think I'd prefer it to be a bit sweet - and there weren't any steamed buns to eat the trotters with .... 

 Top left to right : Steamed fish, Teochew style; duck and yam pancake (chi pan ya),
Bottom left to right : Braised cabbage and yam paste for dessert 

The fish wasn't fresh at all - some parts of it was bitter even. The scariest dish for me was the duck and yam pancake. Fifth Aunt said it's actually called Chi Pan Ya - not sure of the Chinese writing though. I tried Googling and couldn't find anything similar. However, tonight, this dish emitted a really pungent flavour. So much so that I suspected that offal was used to make this dish - not sure which animal's offal, though ... chicken or duck or pig??? Eew. The braised cabbage had a whole chunk of minced pork at the centre. Finally, everyone's favourite was the traditional yam paste for dessert. Dad said it was the best dish of the night.

In fact, I attended the same function two years ago, and I do remembered that the food back then was also quite bad; check out my post then ... But back then I really enjoyed the yam and duck pancake because it did not smell like it did tonight ......

At the function, I was superbly entertained by a song called "Teochew Char Kueh Tiaw". It is sung in the Teochew dialect. So when I came home, I looked it up on YouTube ....

炒果条,炒果条
一条一条又一条 ....

It was a really amusing song and had me laughed out loud as I listened to it ... :))

Coincidentally, I stir-fried kueh tiaw for lunch for the first time today! Raw kueh tiaw isn't something I'd usually buy because I can't finish eating 1 packet by myself. Plus, it's not easy to cook a good plate of char kueh tiaw because when we cook it at home, it just lacks that smoky flavour.

Today, Mom said she would cook Char Kueh Tiaw for lunch. I groaned because I did not like Mom's Char Kueh Tiaw actually. So, I proposed to Mom to cook a portion for myself using my ingredients of choice - pork, Chinese sausage, egg, bean sprouts, spring onions. For this plate, I used 1/2 tbsp of minced garlic and chilli, and flavored with dark soy sauce and pepper.

Homecooked Char Kueh Tiaw

Well, the outcome was surprisingly quite great actually. Though no wok's breath, the kueh tiaw was quite garlicky, fragrant, and a bit spicy. The beansprouts were crunchy and not overcooked, and the meats complemented the noodles quite well. So happy! Looks like making char kueh tiaw isn't that hard at all .... :))

Sunday, May 29, 2016

More Batu Kawa Pork Meatballs

Talk about Batu Kawa, and one would think of meatballs. The other time, I ate at Poh Yak's, a shop located at the Batu Kawa Old Bazaar. It was said to be the oldest meatball vendors. Today, we ate at a little shack near the roundabout. J said this was the original store ... hmn ... but not sure how this can be verified. 

We had this .... 

Plain kolomee & a bowl of pork meatball soup, RM5.00

Pork Meatball Soup is quite juicy and succulent, the soup is umami; there were 10 pieces of meatballs in the clear, piping hot soup

I actually prefer the meatballs here to Poh Yak's .... 

The roadside stall ....
I got this picture from Google Map :)) 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Japchae

I made Japchae for my friends today; it was the first time I've made it ever!


It looked pretty and it was tasty (J and S said so! lol!) but to me, it lacked that oomph. What was missing? Hmn ... I am really not sure.

I used Maangchi's recipe today, but substituted beef with chicken. Refer to the recipe here. Anyway, my Japchae needed much improvement - the noodles were too soft as I overcooked them. Though I followed the instructions on the package. Sigh.

Then, the noodles - vegetables and meat ratio wasn't quite right. Plus, I couldn't find spinach at the supermarket. And I needed to work on the marinade for my meat .... Try again next time, I suppose.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Battling Eczema

Respiratory, skin and gut health. I was told to mind these. How did she know? I don't remember telling her about my health problems. Hmn ...

I started to squirm in my seat. I was uncomfortable because she told me these stuff after doing some calculations on my birth date. Scary! I absolutely do not want to have anything to do with clairvoyance!

But then, I was also squirming because my skin was itching. As we sat talking, the skin around my tummy was inflamed and itchy. I'd scratched till it bled. In fact, I've suffered from eczema or dermatitis for months! 

My eczema started to appear a few years back ... it'll start with a patch and the skin turns red and I'll itch. After a while, it'll heal but the patch will spread else where, and the process repeats. The eczema has concentrated on my lower back, mostly.

Doc said there was no cure, only that I'd have to watch my diet. Eat more fruits and vegetables and cut down on meat.

The eczema will sometimes disappear, but after a while it will come back. This time around, the eczema developed at both sides of my abdomen and was spreading towards my tummy. Many a time, my skin got red and felt painful as it was inflamed. When I sweated, it got even more itchy!  It got quite chronic and I was already going to go see a skin specialist about it. 

I was also thinking hard about my food consumption - what have I eaten that may caused eczema? Peanuts? Hmn ...  I'm not known to have peanut allergies. Seafood? I ate considerably less seafood when Mom wasn't home, but the eczema persisted. Sigh ...

At the same time, I started reading online about the supplements which would help relieve my skin problems. Most sites mentioned Vitamins C, D, E, K, fish oil and Probiotics. Probiotics is said to improve gut health and improve skin conditions. So, I bought a bottle the other night at the pharmacy. 

I took 1 capsule yesterday morning and forgot all about it as I went about the day's activities. But funnily, my skin did not itch even once yesterday! Inflammation has reduced and the rashes are drying up. It's quite miraculous! Could it be that Probiotics is really curing my eczema? It's too soon to say ... But rest assured, I'm crying continuing this regimen just to find out ....

Monday, May 23, 2016

Buldak Bokkeum Myeon : The Spicy Korean Noodles Craze

I've watched with interest as people dare themselves to eat the Buldak Bokkeum Myeon, known as The Fire Noodles, manufactured by Samyang Food. It's purportedly the spiciest instant noodles available in the market now. On popular mukbang programmes on YouTube, the various hosts are seen to eat the noodles with gusto! They made it look so delicious! On YouTube are also many netizens taking on the Buldak Bokkeum Myeon challenge, it was fun watching their reaction to the super spicy noodles.

And so, I've been curious to try it. I bought mine at Ta Kiong Supermarket. It was on a special that weekend - 5 packets for RM19.98. That made if RM4.00 per packet - more expensive than a regular bowl of kolomee! 


The noodles were thick, and came with 2 sachets; one was the sauce, the other contained some seaweed flakes and sesame seeds.


The first time I cooked the noodles, they ended up too soggy. This time around, I was determined to ensure that they were not overcooked. 

I boiled them in a sauce pan over high fire, threw away the water and squished the entire sachet of red sauce into my pan. Then, I mixed the noodles well before dishing them out. Before I started eating, I made sure I had a glass of cold fresh juice on hand.

Slurps ...

Was the level of spiciness exaggerated? Well, the noodles WAS truly spicy. I do have a high tolerance for spicy food. But still, I found it to be extremely spicy. It took me a while to finish my plate of noodles. Along the way, my lips became swollen and nose became runny. Lol.

On another note, the noodles were not as springy as I liked them to be, and the seasoning was on the sweet side - my favourite texture and flavour for instant noodles is in fact Myojo's Ramen Char Mee 100.

To conclude, the noodles were spicy, but still edible. Next round, I'll eat it with a slice of cheese. I wonder if that will enhance the taste or the experience of eating the Buldak Bokkeum Myeon. 😀



Sunday, May 22, 2016

Serikin Weekend Market

This is the Serikin Weekend Market.


A group of my colleagues organized the trip actually, and I joined in. We had hired a van which would bring us from Kuching to this little faraway weekend market near Bau. At the last minute, however, J and I decided to drive there on our own. We would meet up with our colleagues there.

"Wear a big hat," everyone advised me. I did not but I made sure I brought an umbrella. It's really important to have some sort of protective gear from the scorching heat of the sun; it was seriously hot even at 7.45 a.m., and I could barely concentrate on my shopping.

Basically, the market consists of a long street, with stalls lining both sides. A lot of things are sold, like salted fish, dried prawns, dried cuttlefish, clothing, fabric, bags, pillows and other household items, souvenirs, fruits and snacks, and many more!

We basically walked down the the street while browsing the wares, and walked back ... and that already took us two hours and a half. 

The things sold are not that cheap anymore, but still affordable. Since it was my first time to Serikin, I came without a shopping list. I had just wanted to see what the place was like, and see what everyone else was buying. My colleagues went for the clothes - denims, shirts, skirts. There wasn't any fitting rooms at all, so they had to try the over the clothes they were wearing. No mirrors either, so just ask your friend whether something looks good on you. Be sure to bargain also. J bought 10 pieces of printed songket fabric. Being enterprising, she would be selling them online later on. I bought a cotton batik maxi skirt. It was a bright orange with dark green panels, and looked a bit gyspy-ish. I liked it as soon as I saw it, and cost me RM20.00.

This weekend, the only fruits available were dragonfruit, snakeskin fruit or buah salak, and green local oranges. They range from RM5.00 - RM7.00 a kg, depending on the quality and size. I bought 2 kg of snakeskin fruit because I loved them and it had been a while since I had gotten my hands on a single fruit!  But back home, no one else wanted to eat them. Lol! So I gave them away to my friend, S.

We found the dried cuttlefish to be very fresh - so we all bought a packet each. A packet of 6 medium-sized ones cost me RM11.00; Mom would use them to cook radish soup. 

We all loved snacks - cooked or uncooked; melinjo or belinjo crackers were a favorite. I bought a packet of pre-fried ones for S; it was RM20.00 per kg and came packed in a box. But we preferred to buy the loosely packed ones which were costlier - RM9.00 per 400g because we wanted our crackers to be in perfect rounds. Those in the box are often crumbled and broken. Some of my colleagues bought small packets of pre-fried Trengganu keropok, only RM3.00 per packet.



I preferred to buy the ready-to-eat snacks ... There were different types such as banana, tapioca, yam. I bought the ones which were less commonly found in town - tempe and breadfruit crackers; Tempe crackers - RM40.00 per kg - were crispy, salty, textural and tasted faintly of fermented soy. Breadfruit crackers - RM26.00 per kg - were also salty and yum.

I do think that it's been an interesting trip; and I wouldn't mind coming once in a while; next time, I would want to come earlier so that it's not so hot and traffic wouldn't be so heavy. It's been fun! 




Thursday, May 19, 2016

Lyn's Thandoori Restaurant, Kuching

PH has told me that the Indian fare at this restaurant was worthy of trying. It was a good place to bring guests for a meal, she said. This week, ME told me the same thing. So curious, I did a search online. Apparently, this is an award-winning restaurant!

"Lyn’s Thandoori, which is named after Mohanan’s wife Lyn, recently received the Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, the second year they have won the recognition. TripAdvisor gives certificates to businesses that are ranked in the top 10 per cent worldwide based on travellers’ feedback.
In addition, the restaurant had also received the Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Awards 2011/2012 for Nominee Outstanding Food Outlets Category from Sarawak Tourism Board."
That's according to The Borneo Post, ref:  http://www.theborneopost.com/2014/07/20/award-winning-lyns-thandoori-restaurant-serves-up-extensive-menu-of-fresh-indian-cuisine/#ixzz4901C36JY

I checked Tripadvisor as well, and found that the reviews were mixed. Anyway, we headed there for lunch after work. Aside from us, there was only a group of Koreans dining there.

Because there were only 2 of us, we only ordered 3 items to share - a Kashmiri Naan, a Kerala fish curry and a mutton Briyani. The food took a while to wait, and while waiting, we enjoyed our drinks with papadams and chutney.



Kashmiri Naan


The Naan was thin and crispy and filled with dried fruits, it was rather pleasant to eat. Quite pricey though, at RM9.00. 



Kerala Fish Curry, RM17.00 per portion


We asked for the fish curry to be less spicy. We both enjoyed the play of flavours in the curry, which had a good consistency. Tenggiri or Spanish mackerel fillet was used, and there were a minimal of 4 or 5 bite-sized pieces of fish in the curry. 



Mutton Briyani, RM18,00


Finally, the mutton Briyani had a whole chunk of mutton embedded in the rice. S found the flavours of the rice to be too robust for her liking, telling me that it tasted "strange". Indeed it was a little strong in taste, but I found it to be quite delicious! The meat was tender enough to come off the bone easily; eating the meat together with the rice was immensely satisfying.

We paid RM58.20 for our meal, I enjoyed the ambience and service. Will come back.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Teachers' Day 2016

Happy Teachers Day! Our school had an early celebration last Friday with a simple assembly. Surprisingly this year, the students show me and my colleagues a lot of love! I've amassed a tube of body lotion, a branded eau de toilette, chocolates, a mug and a notebook set ... not that I need any more of those, but I do appreciate the students' gesture. And I was especially surprised to receive gifts and cards from those that I least expect to receive anything from!

This year's surprise! 

The gifts aside, I especially cherish the messages of appreciation from the students. Those cards nearly made me tear, and I think that all that I've been doing for the students have been worthwhile. Even more encouraging were text messages and wishes I've received from former students. I'm happy that many are getting on well in their life's journey. And of course, I'm happier to know of their achievements thus far. 

One particular young man, P informed me that he would be called to the Malayan Bar this Friday! Aahh, I am so happy and so proud of him - especially when I recalled how dejected he was when he had just transferred to my school back when he was 19 years old. Back then, he had rejected the offer to go to Matriculations and decided to stay for Form 6, and even then, wondering whether he had made the right choice. 

For a period of time, he was shrouded in uncertainty, until I pulled him aside and  insisted that he had made the correct decision. I stuck by him for a year and a half and true enough, he did well. He achieved a CGPA of 3.83. It was good results, but I was so worried about whether it would be good enough for him to read law at UM since it was all he ever wanted. So imagine how ecstatic I was when he finally got in! 

Over the years, P came back to visit me during his holidays .... and I am always so happy to see him. Since my transfer to Kuching, we have not met up, but he has since kept me notified of all the important events in his life. 

It's been 6 years since P graduated from Form 6 and left school ... but I remember everything like it was yesterday. I believe every teacher has a story like this to tell because there have been so many lives that they have touched. 

This year also, we had our annual teachers' day dinner at Imperial Hotel, Kuching. Food was mediocre ... but guess what? I got an Obermain leather laptop bag from the lucky draw! Goodness! How lucky I was even when I broke my vanity mirror that same evening while getting ready for the dinner. Wasn't it said that one would be seven years unlucky if he or she has broken a mirror? Hmn ...

Today, another surprise came in at school when we each received a packet of Nasi Briyani for lunch. It was courtesy of last year's SPM achiever of the school who will soon be leaving to pursue a course in medicine. It was nice of him to remember his teachers.

Anyway, Happy Teachers' Day to all my fellow educators near and far! Guru Pembina Negara Bangsa. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Homemade Belgian Waffles

WWe bought a snack maker which had interchangeable plates - so I could now grill my sandwiches and make waffles!

Grilled Sardine Sandwiches

Today, we made Belgian Waffles for lunch. Mom used this recipe from Food.com. You can check out the recipe here.

Source : http://www.food.com/recipe/the-bestest-belgian-waffles-63071

Mom mixed the ingredients together while I did the baking; the mixture was not too thick and I could see tiny air bubbles in there; I could also see the batter fluff up while cooking; So this recipe made rather light, soft, and chewy waffles.

Well, basically the waffles can be eaten with anything - today we had ours with butter, some good old peanut butter and Nutella. 

Fresh from the waffle iron .... 

But I think the bestest filling was ice-cream!! I sandwiched a scoop of vanilla ice-cream in my waffle ... Sigh ... Sweet and fulfilling. Happy! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Cantonese-style Noodles @ Sisters Cafe 姐妹园

A few of us came here for lunch the other day and we found the food here to be pretty good! We also liked the fact that food was served reasonably quickly pin ordering. That day, I had the Cantonese-style Kueh Tiaw, RM6.00.

Cantonese-style Kueh Tiaw

What I liked:
1) The kueh tiaw was well-fried and the portion was huge!
2) The gravy had good consistency, well-flavored and tasty.
3) Beef slices were tender and reasonable in quantity.
4) Plenty of greens for some added bite.
5) The eatery is air-conditioned.

The only setback would probably be the horrendous traffic at lunch time as it's located opposite Chung Hua Primary School No. 4 and at 1.30 p.m. when school's out, it would take at least 20 minutes to get  from the shop to the main road!! Other than that, this seemed like a good place to eat good food at a reasonable price.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Luicha @ Big Mouth Food Centre, Kuching

I asked Mom what she wanted to eat, it being Mother's Day and all. Mom simply requested for luicha. So, I brought her to Big Mouth Food Centre. At about 11.00 a.m. on Sunday, business was brisk - many eating in and many taking away. The vegetable trays were already empty, but orders keep coming in.




Small bowl, RM5.00

The vendor, we observed, were replenishing the various types of vegetables that had finished, shredding and cooking on the spot. By the time we got our food, it was a good 20 minutes later. 

As the bowls were set before me, I caught the refreshing whiff of the herbal broth and my mouth watered. Yummy. So, I tasted the broth first. It was not as thick and robust, if compared to the famous one at Green Road. This one, in comparison, seemed more diluted. It was not bitter too, just 甘(guan); the broth was served hot but not boiling. So for me, the broth here wasn't nice to drink on its own as compared to Green Road's.

In the other bowl, there wasn't much rice lining the bowl, for which I was happy about; the rice was light purple in color, and was soft. Over the rice were a generous serving of vegetables - there were long beans, cangkuk manis, cabbage and leek - and preserved radish and roasted peanuts. Did I detect minced dried prawns too? I think so actually. I mixed everything up and took a spoonful, liking pretty much everything I had tasted. 

Then, I poured some soup into my rice bowl and found it much tastier eaten like that; so that was how I finished up the rest of the meal. 

Mom and I enjoyed our luicha anyway. ;)) 






Sunday, May 8, 2016

Crock Pot Pulled Pork

Yesterday was polling day, and aside from going to the polls, I was having a quiet and leisurely day at home. So I decided to make pulled pork using the crock pot or the slow cooker. I read up on many recipes, and ended up adapting from a few of them ....

For a kilogramme of pork - Mom bought a chunk of loin meat (I think!!) - I used 4 Tbsp of brown sugar, 2 Tbsp of chilli powder, 2 tsp coriander; 2 tsp cumin; 4 tsp of salt; 1 tsp of ground black pepper; with this mixture, I rubbed the pork and let it marinate for a while.

For the sauce or the cooking liquid, I used 1/3 cup of apple cider, 2 1/2 Tbsp of Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 cup chicken stock.

Next, I sliced up 2 large onions and 4 pips of garlic and 3 tomatoes (skinned). These lined the base of my crock pot. On top of these, I placed my meat and the only I poured in the sauces. These cooked 8 hours on low in the crock pot.

8 hours later, the meat was drained and shredded by hand. Indeed it was tender enough to shred easily; the meat was really tasty, having absorbed all the flavours from all the other ingredients.

The meat, pulled. 
It was tender though slightly dry because the meat was too lean; a good cut would be the shoulder - I don't know how to say it to the butcher's in Hokkien or Mandarin, because this would be the cut I'm buying the next time I want to make this again.

In the crock pot was all the liquid, which was sieved and thickened with flour. And I mixed it with the shredded pork ...

Ooh, now looking moist and yum ...

The pulled pork could be eaten in many ways ... Last night I had it with coleslaw in a sandwich. This morning, I had it toasted in a mini baguette ...

Grilled with cheese .... 
Even Mom said it was delicious!

I'm pretty happy with the result of this recipe; might just repeat it soon!






Friday, May 6, 2016

When Friends Get Together ...

We were at C's house for a pot bless dinner. It's rather interesting that no two dishes were the same, though we never discussed what to bring. 

The table filled with so much food, mostly homecooked. 

From top left, clockwise : Pan-fried okra, beef patties, steamed pork ribs stew, Thai-style papaya salad

From top left, clockwise : Tempoyak chicken soup, pineapples, vegetables salad, roasted chicken

From top left, clockwise : mixed vegetables, meat rolls, homemade layered cake and mocha slices for dessert. 

It was a nice get-together. Looking forward to the next one ... 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Idealite Bak Kut Teh

I was reluctant when PH asked me to join her for a meal at Idealite. Hmn ... I guess I was certainly not craving for clean, wholesome food. Lol. But PH was persistent, and had been asking me for days .... and so finally, we went there for lunch after work one day.

Bak Kut Teh served with brown rice

Initially, I had planned to eat Lei cha ... but then changed my mind to try the Bak Kut Teh instead. Of course, nowhere was bak kut (pork ribs) to be found .... lol! In place of meat were an assortment of mushrooms, tofu, vegetables and half a hard-boiled egg in a clear herbal broth. The broth had licorice flavour, and thus was a little sweet to the palate. I found the flavour to be a bit strong, to be truthful. Of all the ingredients used, I was most impressed with the wolfberries - which were sweet and totally enjoyable.

 Another look into my bowl .....

This meal was RM16.90, and there was service charge and taxes as well ... so all in all, I paid about RM20.20 inclusive of a drink. Quite pricey. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Freshly Baked Buns @ Hi-Bread

We were supposed to go eat laksa at Chong Choon, Abell Road. We went in 2 cars because I wanted to head for work after that. But upon reaching there, Dad decided to drive home because there was something obviously wrong with his car! A foul smell emitted from the engine, and I too was worried that Mom and Dad would be stranded in town later on. So off the folks went home without breakfast, and I could only pray that they would get home safely.

Instead of laksa, I headed to Hi-Bread which was just around the corner at Jalan Petanak, and I decided to buy some bread for the folks. Of the many types of buns sold, I chose to try the buttermilk buns (recommended by Hans earlier), and also the raisin buns .... each were RM1.20.

Buttermilk & Raisin buns, RM1.20 each

Cross-sections ... 

Back at home, I had the buns cut - the raisin buns were of course devoid of any filling .... but the buttermilk filling was generous, sweet, rich and satisfying. The buns were really soft of course, because they were fresh from the oven. The folks too, loved the buns. :))

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