Friday, May 30, 2008

DINNER @ SWANSEA RESTAURANT, JALAN SUARAH, SIBU

Steamed Kim Bak Loh

This is a fairly new restaurant boasting chefs from Foochow, China. It's nothing new as there have been quite a lot of Foochows of Chinese nationals working in this foreign Foochow land. What makes this one different from the rest is that its food is a bit different from what you get in this town - in its style and preparation, as evidently apparent in its presentation.

The restaurant started life at the ground floor of a tiny shop lot with a space of 20' x 40', having a capacity of 6 six tables or so. Few months into operations, it has taken over the 1st floor (2nd. to Am.) of 4 to 5 lots (former space of a Japanese restaurant). That evening we took a table for 6 on the ground floor. The place was packed and service was good, courtesy of the proprietress.

Yam Rice

From the first dish (fish) that arrived on our table, you'd notice the difference in style of steaming: the flesh was sliced up in chunks before steaming, and its underlying broth (like chicken) had a sweet tinge to it ; no doubt msg., but in a good way that it didn't parched you up. Although this is not a fresh cultured fish, there wasn't a hint of fishiness in the meat or the broth. Its flesh was fine and silky in texture, and yet firm in body. The dish tasted expensive but it wasn't.

The yam rice was not cooked in the claypot that it came in. It looked like ordinary cooked rice - loose and fluffy, and didn't feel like it had been cooked together with the yam, and yet it had the sweetness of yam flavor in every bite. It leaves one wondering: "Did they or didn't they cook the rice with the yam?"

Bitter Gourd Soup

The clear bitter gourd with flowery egg white ladened chicken base soup is something fresh and new. The gourd was finely diced, and it only had a slight bitter after taste. Throughly refreshing!

Ginger Duck

This seemed like smoked duck, deep-fried with ginger slices before being served, to give it a dry crispy fragrant texture. Nice!

Minced Pork Eggplant

The sweet sauce in an eggplant was not what one would expect from this dish. Slip of hand with the sugar, perhaps. The fried yam was like having chunky pommes frites with ketchup, except the sauce is a bit sweeter.

I think, the check came to RM110, inclusive of drinks and rice for a company of 6.

Fried Yam In Plum Sauce

Nobody remembers what this dish was. Could be lamb...

Holy S***!!! Now I remember, after dinner we stopped by the Happy Hours Café at Rejang Park. This is where the Friday crowd (well, most of them) from Home Café gathers on a Friday night. The above dish is... well, let's just say the meat was as tough a turtle's back. I wasn't tipsy that night 'cos I had to drive 2 persons home, and this time I didn't come out at some freaking shortcut along the road to Sibu airport. (reposted @ 2:00 p.m. 30/5/08)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

SNACK @ HOME CAFÉ, JALAN KARANJI 4, SIBU


... we adjoined to this Taiwanese place after the dinner. I've written on this place before on its beef noodle. By late night it's more of a watering hole than a Sabu-Sabu eatery. We joined the unofficial Taiwan association of Sibu, consisting of graduates from the island plus their expat wifes (this being the fact that the proprietor's wife originates from there as well). This group had their drinks bought by the crates, paid for well in advance. Drinks were free-flowing, with whatever that was delivered to the table being subtracted from their accounts. This group hangs out here almost every night of the week. Conversation is in local and Taiwanese Hokkien. The evening was not so much about food or drinks, it was more of the company...

Remember the longbeans I brought along? It was later fried by the boss of the place, whom all the ladies affectionately called "Dad". It was done with Hay Bee Sambal (dried shrimps chilli). It was scrumptious! As none of them have ever tried this sort of beans before, as it's not grown in Sibu yet. Towards the end, one of the ladies was licking off the the plate. That was how good it was!

We ordered a plate of mixed braised kelp, firm tofu (tauqua) and egg to go along with the drinks.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

PORK BELLY LONGBEANS IN SA'CHA SAUCE


INGREDIENTS

● 1 Bunch Longbeans (12 stalk) ● 1 Clove Minced Garlic ● 1 Tbsp. Sa'Cha Chiang ● 1 1¼" Wide Strip of Pork Belly ● 2 Tbsp. Cornflour ● ½ Cup Water


This is a twist to the old longbeans fry. The beans used is a thinner and longer hybrid that have been grown locally recently. Taiwanese Sa'Cha Chiang, which is like a dry shrimps sambal paste minus the chilli, is used here.

I only used about a dozen slices (about 100 gm.) of the whole strip of cooked pork belly. Braising the fried pork belly releases its cornflour coating, thus thickening the sauce a bit, giving it a smooth glistened look and feel.


METHOD
Boil the pork belly in water with 2 tsp.of salt for ½ hour. Then remove and let it cool before slicing.

I've added cabbage leaves into the water to make soup base for use in another dish.
Blanch the whole longbeans for about a minute. Rinse in water to cool. Then knot the beans as shown above, leaving ¾" stalk on both ends.

Slice the cooked pork belly in ¼" thickness. Coat with cornflour.

Deep fry the coated meat until golden brown.

Fry the minced garlic in 3 tbsp. of oil for a while before putting in a tbsp. of Sa'Cha Chiang. Stir to mix throughly.

Then put in the fried pork belly to have them fully coated with the sauce.

Throw in the knotted beans. Toss and turn for about ½ a minute to mix with the sauce-covered meat. Finally pour in ½ a cup of water and let it braise for another 3 minutes, covered. Season and serve. If you prefer chrunchy meat, braise the beans first before throwing in the meat just before serving.


I bought some longbeans the next day to take to Sibu. See other people's take on the longbeans on Thursday.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

DINNER @ MAHSURI CAFÉ, JALAN MAHSURI, SIBU

Dong Po Rou (Braised Pork Belly)

I had dinner already before joining a friend with his family at this small diner, which is off Jalan Pedada (before the medical center). I didn't try any of the food except for the Dong Po Rou. Other than the fact that the meat was fatty, it tasted pretty good, but in the words of my mum had she been there: "Ah-Boi-Kau-Git-Bak" (haven't permeated the meat yet ). The other dishes looked enticing and presentable. The best part was all the 4 dishes plus 4 bowls of rice came to RM35. Dirt cheap!

Braised Fish With Yam

Mixed Vegetables

Kiam Chai T'ng (Pickled Cabbage Tofu Soup)

I brought along some longbeans I bought in Kuching for the dinner, we didn't ask them to cook it because we were unfamiliar with their cooking style. it was suggested to have it for supper at another place. To be continued...

Monday, May 26, 2008

HOT DOGS @ 1901, WISMA SANYANG, SIBU

New York Chicken

This is the latest addition to Sibu's eating scene... I was there on its 3rd. day of operation. As usual, the tiny kiosk was packed with eager beavers (Su-Kus) like me. With only one person doing the food prep. and another handling the till, so you can imagine the hectic assembly process the lone girl had to put up with.


1901 is a local produced franchise, which is more along the line of pushcart-one-man operation; and hot dogs are the only items on the menu, apart from the choice of 2 flavors drinks. Basically, the simple operation has a toaster/grill for the buns, and a steamer for the hot dogs. The 2 choice of meat are chicken and beef franks. It's the different condiments and sauces the differentiate the dogs. From what I can discern for the orders we had, they were ketchup, mayo, mustard, A1 sauce and local made sweet pickle relish. No sauerkraut though.


Chicago's Beef

With only 3 stools at the counter, we grabbed the next free seating available while waiting for the food, thus providing me with the photo opportunity and some Kay-Po time; that was when I overheard the prep. girl exclaiming about putting in the wrong condiments on the order. I told her none would be wiser, since it was some new thing, and nobody would notice the slight difference in the condiments so long as the beef or chicken banger was correct.

Minnesota Bites

The setup is simplicity in itself, and yet some people would plunk down good money to have a piece of the franchise, without which the food could have been more affordable.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

SUPPER @ SRI MERANTI, JALAN HARDIN, SIBU

Wor-Tiak

Right after the Wesak dinner, we headed to Champion's place for a night snack. Famish after having all those gluten!!! We ordered one fried Chinese goyza (pot stickers) from the China's Foochow sisters; one of them looks like a character out of Wong Kar Wai's Chungking Express. Those chive-filled dumplings were quite good for a RM3.50 batch.

Then we had a fried flat noodle Sibu style, without the tomato sauce from Champion's kitchen to be shared among 3 of us.

Fried Koay Teow In Sauce

Friday, May 23, 2008

WESAK DINNER @ REGALIA BALLROOM, KINGWOOD HOTEL, SIBU

Hot Appetizer: abalone, Chicken, Beef,Char-Sui, Sui-Mai?


I was invited to this RM250 a table dinner organized by the Sibu Buddhist Association in conjunction with Wesak Day and the inauguration of new office bearers. The food certainly looked pretty. Despite all the permutations they can come up with to dress the dishes, it all boiled down to one key ingredient: gluten.


Shark's Fin Soup?

Spareribs With Asparagus?

2 flavors Spareribs?

Mixed Mushrooms With Broccoli

Didn't understand all the commotion, and display and prancing on the stage. There was not one, but 3 solicitation of funds. BayTahan, Chiak-Bay-Tar!!! Speaking of Chiak-Bay-Tar reminds me of the food served. What about it? Well, if there's creative writing in the seminary school, the prayer for the night would sound something like this...

Mixed Vegetables On Yam Basket

Abbot: May the thirst be with you...
Congregation: A-Ji-No-Mo-To!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

MINCED BEEF CABBAGE WRAP



While bunking with Linda and Preecha down their basement flat at Portobello Road, I had a taste of Golabki made by their Polish landlady. I never got its recipe other than the fact that there was cabbage leaves with rice in them. That culinary memory has ever since been etched on my mind, fuzzy though, and in later years when I was into cooking, I've been doing my version. Hence, the title is not 'Golabki' up there.

I've used carrot, chillies and mushrooms to sweeten and colorized the deal. One can use raw diced onions, but I find caramelized onions taste better. Capsicum can be used instead of de-seeded chillies.

For the filling, I've used it to make about 20 small (½ a leaf) rolls, which I took to a potluck party, and the remaining for 5 big whole leaf rolls. Probably you can get 15 big rolls out of the filling. The sauce (shown below) is good for the 5 big rolls. You'll need 3 portions of the recipe for the entire filling.

Cook the rice in advance and let it cool and be dry of moisture before using it to mix with other filling ingredients. I used a local 'red' rice (purple color), which needs more than the 1:1 ratio of rice and water for it to be soft. I cooked ¾ cup rice with a slightly less than the required water, because the rice will be soaked and cooked in the tomato sauce again.


INGREDIENTS



½ Cup Rice

1 Doz. Mushrooms

1 Medium Carrot

4 Chillies

500 gm. Minced Beef

1Head Round Cabbage

2 Large Onions

1 Clove Garlic

1 Can Whole Tomato




FRIED ONIONS WITH MUSHROOMS
Fry 1 large diced onions until soft before putting in the mushroom, and fry for a couple of minutes. Scoop out and let it cool.



BEEF MIX

Dice the carrot and chillies (de-seeded).
In a large bowl place minced beef, diced carrot, chillies and cooled fried diced onions with mushroom, and cooked rice. Seasoning: 2 tbsp. light soy sauce, 2 tbsp. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce,1 tbsp. sugar, 1 tbsp. thyme, 1 tbsp. parsley, 2 tsp. paprika or Cajun seasoning, and 2 tbsp. cornflour.
Use your hand to massage the mixture throughly. Leave in the fridge for 15 minutes before use.




TOMATO SAUCE

Fry the 1 big diced onions and 1 clove of garlic with 4 tbsp. of oil until soft over medium heat.
Pour in liquidized canned whole tomato (or puree), plus ½ cup of water.
Add 2 tsp. basil, 2 tsp. sugar and 1½ tsp. salt. Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside.



CABBAGE PREP.
• Use a sharp knife to cut the leaf at the bottom core, and pull outward hold the stem and separate the leaf individually.
• Blanch in hot water for a minute or so until the leaves are soft. Then rinse in cold water.
• Cut a 'V' shape incision on the edge of the stem and remove the stem.



WRAPPING THE CABBAGE (WHOLE LEAF)

Gather the silted leaf so that the 2 halves overlap. Take a beef ball and place on one edge of the leave, leaving an inch allowance towards its end.

Fold as shown below, and finally trim off the excess end bit.

Closely pack the wrapped cabbage flap-side down into a casserole bowl and topped off with the cooked tomato sauce.

Cover the bowl with foil and put in a 160°C oven and bake for 45 minutes. Serve.


½ LEAF WRAP
Cut the leaf in half after removing the stem for the small rolls. Wrap the parcel in much the same way as above method. If the leaf is a bit small, join 2 small leaves to make up for it. Packing them closely will ensure that wrapping won't open during the cooking process. The leaf will bind to filling when cooked.




ABOUT THIS BLOG

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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