Sunday, July 30, 2006


This is a case of 'Kiasuism'; first, there was Teh-Si-Peng - the old fashion tea with milk and sugar. Being a non-dairy country, the milk used is condensed milk. Then some wise guy substituted the sugar with sago palm sugar. Palm sugar being heavier sinks to the bottom of the glass; follow by the milk and the top layer is tea. Hence the 3-layer Teh-Si-Peng.

The game of one-upmanship has taken to a higher plateau;: 5-layer Teh-Si-Peng with the addition of green Chandol and black Hsien Tsau. Chandol is made with pandan leaves coloring, green pea flour and alkaline water. Hsien Tsau is a gelatin made from leaves of the said tree. The end result is no longer tea per se - more of a gimmicky beverage in the vein of the Taiwanese pearl tea. I'm sure there's a 7-layer tea lurking somewhere waiting to pounce on some suckers; this one included.

*In the photo, the green stuff is wheat grass syrup, I think they ran out of chendol that day.

Friday, July 28, 2006


In Penang, they call it Kiam Chai Boi; Kiam Chai (in Hokkien) is salted vegetable, and Chai Boi is leftovers (as in doggy bag). I guess in the West, you'd call it Chop Suey. Basically this dish comprises of food one doggy-bagged from a Chinese banquet, plus the key ingredients: Preserved Salted Mustard Green (Kiam Chai), Asam Gelugor (Asam Poi [Hokkien] - Tamarind skin) and chillies, giving the dish a hot, salty and sour taste. A word of caution: This Kiam Chai is different from the variety one uses to make Kiam Chai Ark (Salted Veg. & Duck) soup.

Last Monday had a birthday party at Sarawak Club. Too much food was ordered..... couldn't finish the last few dishes - steamed chicken with turkey ham, and broccoli with mushroom. These form the basis of my Kiam Chai Boi, which I cooked for Wednesday night (yesterday) dinner. Wondering why I'm telling you all this detail? Well, Sarawak Club got totaled in a 3 a.m. inferno today.

You can just about add any cooked poultry. I add in roast belly pork for added flavor. I would steer clear of strong flavor meats such as beef and lamb, and seafood too (fishballs & prawnballs acceptable). The cooked (leftovers) meats provide the sweetness to the broth.


1 Fresh Mustard Green (Large Chunks)

6 Salted Mustard Green (Large Chunks)

2 Carrots (large chunks)

3 Fresh Chillies (cross-slit lengthwise)

6 pcs. Asam Gelugor

2 Whole Tomatoes

1 Strip Roast Belly Pork (1" width.pcs)

3 liters Hot Boiled Water

Dark Soy Sauce


  1. Wash and cut salted mustard green. Squeeze out excess water.
  2. Fry salted mustard green in a wok over low flame until quite dry.
  3. Put leftovers and all the above ingredients into a large pot.
  4. Pour enough boiled hot water to cover the stuff in the pot, and bring to a boil.
  5. Add dark soy sauce to give some depth, and simmer for about 2 hours to get a clear brownish green broth.
  6. Add salt (if necessary) to taste before serving.
  7. The Asam Gelugor gives the dish the sour taste. The ingredients listed above are just a rough guide; you can vary the amount to suit your liking. I even threw in some old celery sticks, which were turning yellow. Any robust vegetables that can stand the long boiling time will be dandy. The dish tastes better over time.
  8. I like to pour my Kiam Chai Boi over a bowl of rice, just like having Jambalaya.
**This dish is sold at Tien Court, Crown Square, Kuching for lunch at on time. I didn't try it, though.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


This is one hot Szechuan baby! It's all in the sauce... you can make it as hot as you want by adjusting the amount of dried chillies. Some people likes leaving the Szechuan peppercorn in the dish, but I prefer mine out, so long as the fragrance is in the oil.

I use a Taiwanese brand of hot broad bean paste, under the banner of A-A-A by San Yin Foods Co. Alternatively you can use Yeo's salted soya bean (2 tbsp) minced with dried chilli (2-5 pcs), sugar (2 tsp) and sesame oil. (No royalty received from brand plugging)

If you want fancy presentation of the dish, cut the tofu into nice cubes. Whereas in my case, I just plunk in the whole slab into the wok as I fry, and then use the spatula to cut into large chunks. Tofu is a fragile wobbly mass; it breaks easily during the process of frying. Don't do a Freddy Krugger number on it!


100 gm. Minced Pork
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp corn flour
1 tbsp cooking oil

Mix the above ingredients and set aside for 15 minutes before use.
If you can't get hot bean paste, use 2 tablespoon salted yellow beans and 3 to 5 dried red chillies (soaked); pound or blend them into a paste.


  1. Put in 3 to 4 tbsp of cooking oil on a heated wok. When the oil is hot, put in the Szechuan peppercorn, stir quickly, and remove from oil once fragrant.
  2. Fry garlic and chilli until fragrant (golden garlic), put in the bean paste; quickly stir to prevent burning.
  3. Add minced pork to mix with the chilli paste. Use spatula to flatten the meat to spread it flat. Scoop the spatula to the bottom of the meat, twist your wrist to turn the meat. Toss and turn until the meat is no longer pink.
  4. Dump the whole chunk of tofu into the wok mixture. Use the spatula to cut into fairly large chunks. Fry using the toss and turn method. The tofu will break into smaller pieces in the process. Some people will end the cooking here by adding salt to taste, leaving an amber oily finish to the dish.
  5. I like a saucy number, thus I add a cup (or more) water, then the seasoning, plus the cornflour starch mixture to thicken the sauce.
  6. Garnish with spring onion before serving.


2 tbsp Szechuan pepper

2 clove garlic (minced)

1 red chilli (finely chopped)

1 slab silky tofu

2 tbsp hot broad bean paste

cornflour starch mixture
2 stalks spring onion (chopped)

Sunday, July 23, 2006


One often associates Foochows with Kampua Mee (Dry Noodle). How does one address a Foochow’s noodle soup? Kampua Thóng? That's an oxymoron - dry and soup? I think Thóng Mēin (noodle soup) should suffice. Enough said already, or the Foochows will be up in arms for butchering their dialect.

This Thompson's Corner is located at the corner of Jalan Tun Ahmad Zaidi Adruce (formerly known as Palm Road) and Nanas Road. The husband and wife team selling the Foochow fare are formerly from Sri Aman. They are the early pioneers selling Kampuas when Kolo Mee was the norm. And, if I'm not mistaken, this is the first Thompson's Corner outlet in town that revolutionized the multi-stalls coffee shop concept.

The Thóng Mēin is like any ordinary yellow alkaline noodle that sits in a bowl of pork broth, topped with Cha-Sui and garnished with fried shallots and spring onion. However, since this stall sells braised chicken Mee Suah (thread noodle), I always have mine with a dash of Chinese red wine. It somehow enhances the flavor of the soup with a sweet and a tingle of vinegary taste. It's not on the menu, you have to specify it. As for me, the man knows what I want when I order
Thóng Mēin.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


One complaint about having wonton locally is that the noodle vendors are too stingy on the meat. Instead of whining, make your own. Go one better, add shrimp to the mix! The ratio of the shrimp to meat can be 1:2. It gives a different flavor and texture to the content, rather than just meat alone.

When wrapping the wonton, don't pile too much meat onto the wrapper; leave enough space (about
½" on all sides) for the wrapper to close properly. Mixture of water and cornflour can be used as binding agent of the wrapper as well, if you find that water alone does not do the job properly. Don't be too fastidiuos over the wrapping style, the important thing is that the wonton doesn't "open" on you, leaving the meat naked. Furthermore, whatever fancy wrap you give it will be lost in the soup.


Wonton wrappers

30 gm. water chestnut (coarsely chopped)

15 gm. carrots (coarsely chopped)
100 gm. minced pork
100 gm. minced pork
100 gm. shelled shrimps (coarsely chopped)
2 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp white pepper

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp cornflour

1 tbsp cooking oil

  • For soup preparation, click here.
  • Canned water chestnut can be used, if fresh ones are not available. It gives the wonton a crunchy texture. And the carrots add color.
  • Mix all the solid ingredients together before adding soy sauce, sugar, pepper, cornflour and sesame oil. When they are mixed thoroughly, mix in the cooking oil. Let the marinated meat stand for at least 15 minutes in the fridge.
  • Use a teaspoon to scoop enough filling onto the middle of the wrapper.
  • Using the spoon, dap water around the edges; fold one of the corners up to form a triangular parcel.
  • Fold in the lower 2 corners. Dap a little water onto the overlapping flaps.
  • Bring water to boil in a pot. Cook wrapped wonton over high heat. Stir occasionally to prevent them from sticking onto the pot. Around 3 minutes, the wonton should be done. Scoop out into bowl.
  • Add salt and/or fish sauce to pork soup. Pour enough soup into the wonton bowl. Garnish with spring onion and fried shallots.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


This Hakka coffee shop, at the junction of Carpenter Street and China Street, is renowned for its Bee-Tai-Bak or Lau-Su-Fang (Round Rice Noodle). The rice noodle and yellow noodle (for Kolo Mee) are still churned out by the matriarch. They serve the usual Kolo Mee fare of noodle, Wonton, Koay Tiaw, Bee-Tai-Bak, and the latest addition, Taiwan beef noodle.

I patronize this shop mostly for its Bee-Tai-Bak soup. It differentiates itself from the commercially made ones by its texture and firmness. Its soup base is not something you’ll write home about. Like most Kolo Mee vendors’, it's light in taste and flavor, and looks like plain water, as can be discerned form the photo above. There are garlic oil, msg, fish sauce, Cha-Sui, minced pork and spring onion in the bowl of Bee-Tai-Bak.

Nowadays, the 3rd. generation Ah Guan mans the stall - he's the one with tattoo all over his back. This is the place where his grandpa started his business. However, his late father operated from a small shop just further up Upper China Street, and his mom and sisters were briefly at Woon Lam Cafe at Jalan Song Thien Chiok. This is the family's shop; the mom and the sisters stay upstairs.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Usually fresh fish is reserved for steaming, where one gets to taste all the natural goodness flavor of the fish. Some people go to the extreme of steaming fish fresh out of the pond or tank. You can't get fresher than that!


1 fish

2 tbsp fermented black bean

celery leaves

1 chilli (Julienned)

1 large knob ginger

light soy sauce & sesame oil
2 stalks spring onion (Julienned)


  1. In a covered wok or steamer, boil enough water to steam the fish.
  2. Clean the fish. Score both side of the fish, and lightly salt the fish including the opened tummy.
  3. Thinly slice the ginger, and lay them out in the plate, where the fish will sit. Julienne the remainder of the ginger, which will be place on top of the fish's body.
  4. Cut off te leafy bits from celery sticks. Coarsely chop and stuff them in the cavity of the fish, plus a bit of ginger slices..
  5. Place the fish onto the plate, on top of the ginger slices.
  6. Spread julienned ginger and chilli evenly on top of the fish. Then top off with fermented black beans.
  7. When the wok or steamer is ready, put in the plate of fish to be steamed for 20 minutes.
  8. When done, quickly uncover and drizzle sesame oil and a bit of light soy sauce on top, then julienned spring onion. Cover and steam further 3 minutes. Serve.

Friday, July 14, 2006


This is one of those cheap eats I had for lunch yesterday. This café serves pre-cooked ready-to-eat Chinese lunches. It’s one of the cheapest I have encountered. The price ranges from RM2.00 to RM5.00 depending on the selections one chooses. There are choices of vegetable, meat and fish.

I had corn kernels fried with minced pork, peas and carrot, coagulated pig’s blood cubes, and salted duck egg. Cost: RM2.30 (US$0.63). Chinese belief has it that whatever part of the animal’s anatomy one eats, it’s a supplement to the same organ in one’s body, like heart for heart, liver for liver etc. I wonder if eating pig’s brain makes one think like a pig.

This place is right after the flyover (near Esso gas station) next to Hong Leong Bank.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


This dish must be executed very fast.. The whole idea is not to have your vegetable limp out on you, or the peas turn yellow from over-cooking. Have everything prepared and ready by your wok station.

1 bouquet cauliflower

100gm. medium size shrimp

1 tsp light soy sauce

½ tsp Sesame oil
<½ cup frozen peas
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 tbsp cornflour

1 cup water


  1. Cut the cauliflower into bite-size buds, discarding the end bits near the stem.
  2. Shell the shrimp, leaving the tail. De-vein. Mix with soy sauce, then sesame oil. Set aside..
  3. Pour hot water onto peas, and let it thaw for a few minutes.
  4. Mix the cornflour with 1 cup water to be used as sauce thickener. (This is only a guide. You may or may not used up all this mixture. It depends on the amount of water you put into the cauliflower later)
  5. Heat up wok filled with enough water to blanch the cauliflower. Add a tablespoon of cooking oil, 1 teaspoon of salt into the water.
  6. Quickly blanch the cauliflower when water comes to a full boil. Scoop out and set aside. Discard water and wipe dry the wok.
  7. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of cooking oil around the wok; coating ¾ bottom of the wok, using the spatula.
  8. On high heat, put in the garlic. Toss quickly to prevent the garlic from burning.
  9. Once fragrant, throw in the shrimp. Toss and turn the shrimp, flipping (scooping) from bottom to top. After a few seconds, put in the drained peas.
  10. Before the shrimp turns pink, mix in the cauliflower in the same motion as step 9 for few seconds.
  11. Put in enough water (½ to 1 cup) to make a runny sauce. Add salt to taste, and thicken with cornflour starch. Scoop out immediately.

Monday, July 10, 2006


This café is situated on the right side of Carpenter Street (coming from General Post Office) before the Kuching Hainan Association. It doesn’t have any English name of its signboard – only Chinese inscription. Between it and the association building is an alleyway that leads to a car park behind.

This is a-mother-and-son operation, while the dad peddles his imported Chinese goods at the 5-foot-way of the Hainan Association. The mum sells beef noodle and curry noodle, and the son does ready-to-eat Chinese lunch. There’s another stall by the alleyway that sells pork leg rice (nothing to shout about), and a lady selling marinated cuttlefish in front the café.

The cuttlefish platter comes with cuttlefish (left), pickled cucumber, and hundred-year egg with pickled ginger [optional order] (background). The orangey-brown cuttlefish, which is chemically processed, is blanched and then soaked in soy-sauce mixture. It tastes good on its on, but even better with the condimental chilli sauce. Word of caution: take this dish in moderation; you never know the chemical content that goes into preserving the egg and cuttlefish.

This beef noodle tastes quite similar to the more famous counterparts of “Ah Mui’s” and the one at Jalan Green Hill, but not as renowned. The one you see above is flat rice noodle (koay tiaw) with lean beef and preserved salted vegetables, plus bean sprouts. I don’t know what goes into the making of the soup except beef bones and dark soy sauce, hence the dark color of the soup. There isn’t a strong hint of herbs and spices like the Vietnamese Phò. The chilli condiment is a must-dip; it’s different from the Chinese/Taiwanese chilli sauce. It consists of ground chilli with galangal and vinegar. One can order the “works” (Chainģ) which comprises of braised beef (muscles, tendons, cheap cuts of meat) and tripes.


slurp.....he inhales the beef soup

Meet Matty

He goes batty over chicken's feet

Chomp! Chomp!

He polished them clean!

Poa! Out goes the bones .

don't eat the chop sticks.

Written with the help of Nat the Rat

**Nat and Matty are from the outpost of New Plymouth, NZ. Matty is 12. He says he started eating chicken's feet ever since he ate the first Dim-Sum at 4.

Friday, July 07, 2006


Mom bought me an electric pressure cooker from a Chinese street peddler. She claims the food tastes better than conventional cooking, without the fuss. It's a pre-programmed pot with buttons for cooking rice, porridge, meat, fish bean and soup. You just put in all the stuff you want to cook, press a button, go off to work, and when you come back viola! Your warm meal is ready.

I'm testing it with a beef goulash recipe, which I normally cooked in the oven using a casserole dish. All the buttons and manual are in Chinese which I can't read. After a few phone calls and fiddling with the pressure release dial, I finally got it working without loosing pressure. It took half the time to cook compared with using an oven.

I've got this
Argentinean strip lion beef. It's similar to blade. The description below is adapted for conventional oven. (I have added carrots, potatoes and mushrooms to this dish, because I'm having just this with French loaf for dinner. Reminds me of the meals they served in those old spaghetti Western movies)


1 kg. strip loin beef

2 tbsp flour

1 large onion

12 shallots

4 cloves garlic

1 can button mushroom (230 gm drained)

2 tbsp hot paprika

1 tbsp basil

1 tsp caraway seeds

½ tsp thyme

1 beef stock cube

1 liter water


Cooking oil

2 large carrots

8 medium potatoes

  1. Trim the fat off the beef. Cut into 2"x1"x¾ " chunks. Coat it with flour.
  2. Skin onion, shallots and garlic. Cut onion in half, then quartered both halves. Leave the garlic and shallots as whole.
  3. Put enough oil in a pan to sear the beef on both sides, about 3 minutes each side. Fry in batches if you have to. Scoop into oven-proof casserole dish, reserving the oil.
  4. In the same pan, fry the onion, garlic and shallots until soft on medium heat. Pile on top of beef. Reserve the oil.
  5. Fry the mushrooms in the pan , searing slightly. Put into casserole dish.
  6. Put in all the spices and beef stock cube into the pan. Add 1 liter water. Bring to a boil; make sure the beef stock cube is dissolved. Pour into dish.
  7. Put the dish into a pre-heated oven of 1800C or 3560F for 2 hours.
  8. Peel both carrots and potatoes. Cut carrots into large chunks and leave the potatoes as whole.
  9. After the 2 hours thicken roux with flour or corn starch (cornflour+water). Add salt to taste, and pop in the carrots and potatoes, making sure they sit beneath the gravy. Lower the temperature of oven to 1600C (3200F). Put the casserole dish in the oven for another 30 minutes.
In the electric pressure cooker, the meat is cooked on 2 cycles using the 'meat button' (1 cycle is about 30 minutes). After that, I put in the potatoes and carrots using the 'beans button' on 1 cycle. All procedure is the same as above.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


This café celebrates its 30th anniversary June this year. I was introduced to this Kolo Mee stall as genuine Foochow Kampua Mee because it’s a Foochow family’s operation (originally from Bintangor). Actually they sell Kolo Mee here.

I mentioned ‘stall’ before, because they started off in a small ‘push-cart’ stall on the curb-side of the present café, and the family was renting space upstairs. There were only a few tables available for customers then. Today, they bought the shop and have expanded to selling pork porridge and Kueh Chap.

I usually order the dry wonton (“kiaw” by Kuchingnite, and “pian-nit” by Foochows) with chilli sauce nowadays. It’s marinated minced pork wrapped in thin wheat flour square wrapper. The wontons are boiled in hot water until they float to the surface. Then they are mixed with flavoured cooking oil, light soy sauce, msg and chilli sauce, then garnished with chopped spring onion and fried shallot. It’s accompanied by a bowl of clear pork soup. Like most Sarawakian wonton, the meat content is miniscule. I think we coined the phrase: “Where’s the meat?” long before Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?”

I notice that it’s a tendency here for Kolo Mee orders to have “pang ang” (literal translation: putting in the red) i.e. Red fat drippings from the roast pork (cha sui). If you think of it, how much can a few strips of cha sui generate each day? They are using the cha sui oil by the vats each day. I assume they simply use cooking oil mixed with red coloring and maltose, because their cha sui doesn’t have the roasted look – more of a red dye paste-on job. Think of Red No. 2 the next time you dig into a Kolo Mee pan ang. It’s not just here…it’s a practice everywhere in Kuching.

* Located at the junction of Jalan Sekama and Jalan Kueh Siak Hong

Monday, July 03, 2006


It's one of those simple recipes which you can whip out with no effort at all. The citrus taste is refreshing on a hot summer's day or night. The ingredients listed below serve only as a guideline, you can vary the amount to suit your liking..


3 chillies (seeded & finely chopped)

2 lemon grass stem (fine slices)

2 tbsp lime juice

2 tbsp fish sauce

5 shallots (fine slices)

3 kaffir lime leaves (slivers)


100 gm. fish

100 gm. shrimp

100 gm. squid

2 tomatoes (½ then quartered)

½ cup cilantro (coarsely chopped)

  1. Cut fish in bite size of 1½" square x ¼" thick. Blanch until done. Set aside to cool.
  2. Blanch shrimp until done. Shell and de-vine. Set aside to cool.
  3. Gut the squid and cut into rings. Blanch until done. Set aside to cool.
  4. Mix the salad dressing and chilled. You can use lime zest as kaffir lime leaves substitute. Vary the quantity of lime juice and fish sauce to your taste. Add a bit of sugar if necessary. If you're game enough, leave the chilli seeds on. You should achieve a combination of hot, sour and salty flavor from the dressing.
  5. Toss the seafood with tomatoes and cilantro. If shallots are not available, use red onions instead,
  6. Pour dressing and mix well before serving.


As the name implies, it's all about nothing! Kongkaying is like grasping in the air - more like hot air with occasional fartulence. Hopefully, something aromatic will come out of it! If not...

May the Farce be With You!


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