Lacto-Vegetarian Recipe: Scrambled Eggs With Cat’s Pee

No prize for the correct answer – but  who went marketing today?

I visit my vegetables seller at the local market about twice a week for my supply of broccoli and cabbages.  Today, she recommended that  I get  mani cai for a change.  In fact, she was very insistent because these stalks were young and tender and would make a nice vegetables dish for a change.

“Easy peasy to cook.  Just mix in some eggs!”, she assured me.

Either my Foochow dialect needs improvement or I have an overactive imagination.  I’ve stayed away from mani cai, because mani means ‘cat’ and cai means ‘vegetables’ in Foochow,  with a  little stretch of imagination, I had somehow translated mani cai into ‘Cat’s Pee’ or something associated with the awfully smelling cat’s pee!

In fact, ‘Mani Cai‘ ( 马尼菜) needs no introduction.  This is a popular hardy plant that grows in nearly every backyard in Sarawak.

From Wikipedia (here), I found out that this supposedly local Sarawakian is not so local after all.  It is an international vegetable with a global fan base –  called ‘Amame Shiba’ (アマメシバ) in Japan;   ‘cangkuk manis’, ‘cekur manis’, ‘sayur manis’, or ‘asin-asin’ in Malaysia;  ‘pak waan’ in Thailand;  ‘rau ngót’ in Vietnam;  ‘Malay Cheera’ in Kerala -India  and also fancy-smancily known in the botanical world as ‘sauropus androgynus‘!

Wow-zers!  Do excuse my ignorance sweet leaves aka katuk aka star gooseberry… you go under too many aliases!  (Are you working for Interpol?)

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A fresh bunch of mani cai

To prepare:  Remove leaves from stalk – the stalk is not edible!

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Vegie seller demonstrating the leaves removal process

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Empty stalks to be discarded

At home:  Wash the leaves thoroughly before cooking.

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Deep dark green leaves means a rich supply of chlorophyll

Cooking Steps:  

Beat up a few eggs, I used 4 – the number of eggs is totally dependent on you.  Remember to add a pinch of salt to the eggs to sterilise them – we don’t want to get salmonella, do we?

Add a generous drizzle of oil into the frying pan – Ms Vegie-Seller told me that mani cai absorbs a lot of oil, so I need to add more oil.  I used Cold Pressed Virgin Olive Oil.  First,  I stir-fried the vegs, then add in the scrambled eggs.  If you like, you can add a tiny teaspoon of chicken stock powder for extra taste.

Q.E.D (Quite Easily Done)

TAH-DAH!

My Scrambled Eggs with Mani Cai aka Scrambled Eggs with Cat’s Pee!  A sweet leaf vegetables dish packed with potassium and chlorophyll, a healthful cell rejuvenator, beneficial to the circulation and  intestinal flora;  fibre for regular bowel elimination and last but not least, protein for muscle building from the eggs.

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Scrambled Eggs with Mani Cai or Cat’s Pee

If you spotted that the scrambled eggs were brown instead of the usual golden yellow, I noticed them  too.  I am thinking that perhaps the chlorophyll has somehow seeped through the leaves and stained the eggs.  Never mind the colour/ presentation.  The vegies were very sweet, very tender and not stringy at all – and terribly  easy to cook!

Sibu BASE Jump 2013

Well, well, well, something exciting to wake the sleepy heads up – adrenaline pumping BASE Jump that is! An annual event organised by the tourism council to pull in some tourist $$ to an otherwise boring town. (Check out their FB page here)

Basically 35 jumpers from overseas will be taking their leap of faith by leaping off Wisma Sanyan, currently the tallest building in Sarawak (126m off ground) in their parachutes. They do this every hour on the hour from 20th to 22nd September 2013 and depending on weather, some night jumps as well.

I’m not sure how this works – to attract BASE jumpers to Boo Town or to to entertain the locals – it does get meh after watching a couple of jumps. Ain’t nothing like the real thing in Queenstown!

But if you have yet to plan anything over the weekend, do head over to the Sibu Town Square. Catch them before they head off to KL for the KL Tower Jump next week!

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Leaping off Wisma Sanyan, approx 126m off ground

Soaring like the birds!

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Wee…

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Wee…

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Slightly off mark

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Gently, gently

It’s a touch-down!

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Safe landing

One more time!

Mini Egg Custard Moon Cakes @ The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong

Right when I thought I’ve eaten enough moon cakes for the year, another box arrived for me today.

This sturdy brown decagonal box had flown all the way into Borneo from The Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong, just in time for the Mid-Autumn festival tonight! Much to the chagrin of my waist, my lips were etched into a grin as wide as The Cheshire Cat’s with my tastebuds leaping for joy! How could I reject these tiny babes from the much lauded bakery?

No, No, No! Diet will have to wait another day…

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The Peninsula Hotel’s Mini Egg Custard Mooncakes

Inside the decagon box are 2 layers of 4 mini moon cakes on plastic trays. Alas! They didn’t travel well…

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Minis on plastic tray

Broken pastry. *face-palm*

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Squashed mini resting in my palm

Tiny at only 40 grams, these broken babies still packed a punch!

Stop!

Don’t tell me these angelic babies in soft buttery pastry shells have the caloric value equivalent of one bowl of rice!

Hush! Ssshh… Don’t make me feel guilty by colluding my mind!

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Total Disintegration

I normally cut my moon cakes into eighths to share but seeing this moon cake is SO tiny, I went for the whole hog. And boy-oh-boy! This is one mean, rich, mini baby moon cake, I felt so stuffed after eating it. Taste-wise, it was delectably sweet custard with a tinge of the salted duck egg yolk, made from rich butter, coconut milk, eggs and condensed milk among the listed sinful ingredients on the packaging.

And how do we celebrate Mid-Autumn festival in the Boo, you ask? Well, we knocked off an hour early today, and besides that, I have nothing planned… I will need my ear-plugs because the neighbourhood will be erupting into fire-works late into the night… driving me bonkers and keeping me awake…

So I am definitely missing the spectacular Tai Hang Fire-dragon Dance in Hong Kong tonight. This is a festival that started all the way back in 1880 when Tai Hang was still a tiny Hakka fishing village near where Causeway Bay is now. I am also reminiscing the good old times when I had the privilege of being the first female dragon dancers in the troupe of over 300 performers by holding the pole which held the 67m long dragon made of 72,000 incense sticks. We were tasked to make the dragon come alive by waving and running with it. It was tough, the pole was heavy but a job well done! And I got a spot on TV! 5-second stardom! *sigh*

How does the Tai Hang Fire- Dragon Dance came about? I hear you ask.

Well, according to folklore, a few days before the Mid-Autumn Festival over a century ago, a typhoon, then a plague wreaked havoc on the village. While the villagers were repairing the damage, a python entered the village and ate all their livestock. Enough was enough, the villagers consulted a soothsayer who decreed that the only way to stop the chaos was to stage a fire dance for three days and nights during the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival. The villagers thus made a huge dragon of straw and covered it with incense sticks, which they then lit. Accompanied by drummers and erupting firecrackers, they danced for three days and three nights – and the plague disappeared.

If you are in Hong Kong (tonight or tomorrow night), do make an effort to see it. This smokey vibrant affair is China’s third national list of intangible cultural heritage!

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Fire Dragon in Tai Hang.
(Source: HK Tourist Association)

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival Everyone! xx

A Nyonya Breakfast @ Kuching, Malaysia

Date of Visit: September 11 2013

Before my flight back to the Boo, my friend S insisted that I should sample what she claims to be the best Popiah in Kuching. The coffee shop is somewhere along the 3rd Mile – the name escapes me – but she was kind enough to give me the directions should I want to visit the place in the future: “Opposite KTS village apartments, behind ‘Rice n Noodles’ shop. Few doors away from Hainan Cafe”. Goobledygook to me, but perhaps might make some sense to the Kuchingites who are familiar with the landmarks.

Our vegetarian breakfast consisted of 2 popular Nyonya snacks – popiah and pie tie. By the way, Nyonyas are Chinese women married to Malay men. Their descendents of this mixed-racial marriage are called Peranakans. Nyonya delicacies often involves a lot of work – julienning, dicing and pounding the vegetables or herbs.

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My Nyonya Breakfast: Popiah, Pie Tie and 3-Layer Iced Tea

The vendor of the popiah store is Joseph, a man in his 60s. What made his popiahs special were that the thin flour pancakes are stuffed with the julienned wholesome goodness of jicama, long beans, bean sprouts, cabbages and chopped up dried bean curds given a dash of life with sweet crunchy peanut and chili sauces then tightly rolled into a tight package as big as a burrito roll with a hefty tag of RM3. Being purely vegetarian, they were packed with minerals, vitamins and fibres. the notable thing about Sarawakian popiahs are that the ingredients used are all dried. In this case, the jicamas have been been steamed then squeezed dried.

Now, you may be wondering what is ‘Jicama’. It is also referred as Mexican yam or Mexican turnip. It is a large brown bulbous root. Inside the rough and tough skin is the white crunchy flesh, similar to a raw potato but wetter and crunchier. The flavor is slightly sweet, a little nutty. It can be eaten both raw and cooked, although my own favorite is raw, (a key vegetable in rojaks) since its crispness and colour can be retained over time.

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X-section: Stuffed Vegetarian Popiah

Kuih Pie Tee or ‘Top Hat‘, thus called due to the thin crispy shell casings when inverted look like a lot like a top hat. This crispy shell is usually filled with the same mixture of thinly sliced vegetables that popiah uses. Considering that making the little top hats is tedious work, it commands a premium of RM1 each. This is a popular Peranakan tidbit, something to amuse the mouth.

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Pie Tie

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X-section: Pie Tie

I have been seeing advertorial posters of an interesting drink called ‘3 Layer Tea‘ adorning walls in nearly all the coffee shops I have eaten at but had never ordered. Today, I decided to order one too.

The 3 layers of my iced 3 layer tea consisted of black palm sugar syrup at the bottom, creamy evaporated milk in the middle and brown brewed tea on top. It is a distinctively coloured drink when carefully layered. The sweetness has a refreshing pandan leaves fragrance to it which I enjoyed.

It was a good wholesome breakfast which I appreciated. So, thanks again S!

Steamed Rice Moon Cakes @ Sibu, Malaysia

4 more sleeps to the moon cake finale this Thursday night.  Hungry for more moon cakes but dreading the calories?

With a bit of creativity one can transform the unhealthy sweet guilty treats into something healthy.  What about steamed moon cakes that I got for tea today?

Steamed moon cake made from grounded rice and sesame  encasing the  yellow-peas paste (with possibly some cream cheese).

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Rice + Sesame Steamed Moon Cake Sibu-Style

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X-section

The rice and sesame layer is dry and crumbly as can be seen from the picture above.  Taste-wise, it is bland.  But for those on a diet and do not want to miss out, this will prove a saviour for this mid-autumn fest!  Ta-ta!

New Spin on Tribal Dining @ Absolute Tribal, Kuching, Malaysia

Date of Visit: September 10 2013

Eager to try umai, my friend recommended me to Absolute Tribal, a modern Thai-Dayak fusion restaurant attached to Sarakraf. Sarakraf stands for Sarawak Arts and Craft Center, a semi-private initiavtive setup to conserve and promote Sarawak’s heritage in arts and crafts through cultural workshops and demonstrations. There is an art gallery, craft shop and a budget accommodation in the compound which is very popular.

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Sarakraf HQ is an old Colonial Building

My friend and I had a little tour of the centre before lunch and met with Gerald, the brains behind Sarakraf, the artist-in-residence who is also the owner. All the paintings on the walls were painted by him.

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Mini Museum/ Art Gallery

The entrance to the restaurant is through here – the yellow frame with a hot pink portico.

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Restaurant

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Entrance

There are a number of dining spaces designed in different styles – chairs or floor seats, indoor or outdoor, modern or tribal – to suit one’s fancy and to accommodate specific functions and the number of people.

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Jungle pond with a monkey swinging in the middle of the restaurant

This is where we dined, at the ‘tribal’ room. The walls are adorned with bamboos and attap leaves. It is very private, away from the main dining area and has a dark rustic feel which I liked.

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Tribal Dining Room

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Woven mats on floor, bamboos and attap leaves on walls

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Pua (traditional weaving), spear and shield adorn the wall

As soon as we are seated, we were presented a very lengthy menu listing Thai, Dayak and local food at our table. The ‘Durian Inspired Menu‘ has just been released and I noted with interest that this menu is available from 7:30am to 9:30pm. Seriously? Durian at 7:30am, anyone? Certainly ‘takes your breath away’…as the tagline goes. *phoof*

Well,  it’s 1:00pm and I am digging to try tempoyak.   I am currently into fermented foods for the probiotics benefits and am  making kefir and kimchi at home.  But so far, have never tasted tempoyak.  Tempoyak is fermented durian, if you repel from the stink of durian, wait for this one!

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Tempoyak Menu.
Source: Absolute Tribal’s FB page

So without much ado, the first to arrive was Tempoyak Ikan Bilis (RM8).  The speedy arrival was due to the waitress’s mistake in delivery,  it was our neighbour’s order, oh well, we didn’t realise until half-way through.  The white-baits were deep-fried first before re-frying with lemongrass, chili, onions and tempoyak. Additional fish sauce was added for seasoning. I identified the faint stinky tempoyak smell straight away, it also has a distinctive salty fermented taste. This dish is good source of calcium since you eat the fish, bones and all.

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Tempoyak Ikan Bilis

Tempoyak Curry Fish with Terung Dayak (RM25). I quite enjoyed this dish – especially the terung dayaks (sour eggplants)  which I have taken a liking to  from my dinner at  the.Dyak  last night.  This  is a thick salty tangy dish with a creamy santan base,  sour terung dayaks and faint hint of  tempoyak.   A mild tasting dish which is very moreish.  I think I am a new convert to tempoyak now.  A trip to the central market to get a few of these is in order. Talking about my laziness, here’s an interesting blog on a couple who went on a durian hunting trail all over the world for a year (link here). Now, if  only I have the motivation…

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Tempoyak Curry Fish with Terung Dayak

This is my friend’s favourite – Deep fried Kai-Lan with Chicken Floss (RM15) which she has high praises for. She liked the crunchy leaves and sweet chicken floss while I preferred the stir-fried stalks. It was drizzled with fish sauce which imparted a light sweet taste. A dish that looked healthy but certainly not!

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Deep fried Kai-Lan with Chicken Floss

Smoked Duck Kerabu (RM20). Kerabu means salad (I googled). This is smoked duck strips that is deep-fried then served on a bed of slaw and garnished with a lot of lemon grass and shallots. A very salty, yet delectable dish, served with a drizzle of light fish sauce (again) 😊

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Smoked Duck Kerabu

Umai (RM25). This is the dish I have been waiting SO long. Raw fish cooked in lime or cerviche. The presentation was nice – raw fish on a bed of slaw surrounded by a few slices of cucumbers and topped with shallots and lemongrass. Unfortunately, not what I had imagined because it was not ‘cooked in lime’. I detected fishiness from the fish and relied heavily on the accompanying sauce of chili padi, garlic, lime to mask the taste. In fact, I like the hot sauce so much that I burnt my mouth!😳 Lucky I have my cold glass of lemon -mint infused water at hand and half serve of rice to bind me over.

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Umai

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Garlic, shallot, lemongrass, lime sauce

Overall, an hour of satisfying meal in the company of an old friend in a totally relaxing atmosphere.  A different experience from  the.Dyak  and a different way of cooking traditional Dayak cuisine.

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Orang Hutan

T-Rex Shopping Up A Storm at Pearl of the Orient!

While Daddy T-Rex is at work in France’s City of Light at River Seine, Mommy T-Rex and the girls are busy in the Kong working on their LV handbags collection!

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Grrr… DON’T touch my LV!

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It’s quite a hassle to buy luxury brands in Paris, you will be asked for your passport details since each customer is only allowed to purchase 2 handbags in the 6 months time-frame. Here in Hong Kong, there is NO limit on the number of bags purchased… waste no time, Girls, let’s shop up a storm!

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Look! More bags!

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More! More!

This goes to prove that shopping is a cultural experience in Hong Kong. It is not necessary to go all the way to Paris! We get ‘arts’ in the malls here!

*wink*

But if you still insist on seeing Daddy T-Rex in Paris, there is no stopping you, deets here

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Source: Internet (?)