Indigenous Sarawak River Fish: Tengadak @ New Capital Restaurant, Sibu, Malaysia

M.I.A?  ME??  NOooo…!!

I had my knickers in knots trying to self-host my blog.  I got sold on the idea that one shouldn’t live in a rental when one can afford to move out to one’s own house, but the ‘deal’ went pear-shaped ‘cos I’m not the most literate when it comes to computer. Sure, I can pay USD100 for the ‘happiness engineer’ to spare me the misery, but surely that defeats the purpose of having a paideutics hobby, right?  Me, being a practical miser that I am, thought that I can somehow be my own happiness engineer with the assistance of  the free youtubes and literatures abound on the web! How wrong I was – it was an exercise in futility and so I cancelled my BlueHost and ditched the idea of redesigning my webpage.  Lesson learnt:  Computer stuffs should be best left to professionals.

The past couple of weeks  have been excruciatingly hot – so hot that my tummy bloats up  to the size of  a water-melon and have me belching!  I’m guessing the heat and too much natural fermentation in my tummy from my daily diet of cabbages and brocollis is making me Miss Farty-pants, so I went in search for a simple home-styled lunch.

New Capital Restaurant is my go-to restaurant in SiBoo Town for yummy-licious Cantonese-Sarawakian cuisine.  There are only 2 restaurants worth going to in Boo Town and I am so surprised -shocked – that they are not even listed on TripAdvisor!  (The other restaurant is here)

So when the proprietress recommended tengadak – a fresh river fish, I was thrilled.  Fresh river fishes are notable produces from Sarawak.  Unfortunately, over-fishing and pollution means tengaraks are fast becoming scarce.  Furthermore, with the development of the highly controversial Bakun Hydroelectric Dam – the second tallest concrete-faced rockfill dam in the world for a population of 2.4M people in Sarawak – their natural habitat in the rapids and rocky areas are also under threat.

Here is a quick snap of my tengadak fish.  It has been steamed first then ladled over with sizzling hot oil and light soy sauce to enrich its delicate flavour.

20130921-195028.jpg

Steamed Tengadak in light soy sauce

Tengadaks are bony fish due to its small size but very delicious – just be mindful of the tiny ‘Y-shaped’ bones.  Their flesh are naturally sweet and flaky as they feed on natural organic staples such as insects, reptiles, amphibians, fish, flowers and fruits that are caught in the turbulent water.

Tengadaks are indigenous fish to Sarawak.   They are a slow-growing species that take at least 5 years to mature up to 800g in weight. The biggest tengadak caught was only around 2kg.  Most line-caught ones from the river are around 300-500g.  Attempts have been made to farm the tengadaks, but farmed fishes taste ‘muddy’, and do not even come close to those living in the wild.

20131021-191300.jpg

Who hit the jack-pot?!
Source: Reflections from Sarawak’s Rivers – coffee table book but forgot to take the name of the author.. 😦

Let’s cut to the chase – care to take a guess at how much my  little 400g fish costs?

Well, the fish did pushed the envelope of my lunch budget at RM400.  Still, when compared to the ‘King’ of fresh river fish in Sarawak – Empurau – aka the most expensive fish in Malaysia – tengadak is ‘cheap’.   The nickname for empurau is ‘unforgetable’ and at RM6,000 for a fish, this nickname  is very appropriate!  Check out the article here

20131021-123905.jpg

RM6,000 for an empurau fresh river fish (wholesale price)
Source: Borneo Post

‘Side-kicks’ to my lunch were:

20130921-194950.jpg

Native Sarawakian fern: Stir-fried ‘Midin’

20130921-195000.jpg

Midin

20130921-195010.jpg

All-time favourite: Deep-fried sweet and sour pork

20130921-195019.jpg

Double-boiled Chicken soup with Chinese water-cress

Do check out New Capital Restaurant for authentic Cantonese-Sarawakian dishes, if you are lucky, they may have exotic games on their menu!

20130921-194918.jpg

Address on pink paper serviette

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!

20130921-152425.jpg

Leaping off Wisma Sanyan, approx 126m off ground

Soaring like the birds!

20130921-152438.jpg

Wee…

20130921-152446.jpg

Wee…

20130921-152459.jpg

Slightly off mark

20130921-155542.jpg

Gently, gently

It’s a touch-down!

20130921-155552.jpg

Safe landing

One more time!

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).

20130916-153618.jpg

Rice + Sesame Steamed Moon Cake Sibu-Style

20130916-153626.jpg

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!

Sibu Famous Curry Fish Head @ Sheraton Restaurant, Sibu

Date of Visit: July 10 2013

I don’t dine out much in The Boo. I gather I am not missing anything since every single joint I’ve patronised here serve the same thing – kway teow and fried rice – be it a Western, Japanese or whatever-joint they call themselves (a review of a so-called Italian joint in The Boo serving fried-rice here). In any regards, I’d rather eat at home to save myself from intestinal gut inflammation. From a nutritionist’s point of view, it takes 2 years to rid the body of inflammation, however, from the raw foodist’s perspective, it takes 1 year to rid the body of inflammation from simply ingesting 1 piece of Pringles! (Depressing bit of info since I might have inflammed and aged 10 years now!)

On the occasions that I do dine out or have visitors visiting, we usually rotate between Sheraton and New Capital restaurants, the only 2 restaurants worth heading to in my opinion (until I make new discoveries).

Sheraton isn’t a posh restaurant but it does has a reputation for her very mean signature Curry Fish Head. Nearly every visitor to The Boo has been inducted to its Curry Fish Head Hall of Fame. The proprietress hails from Singapore and have lived here for over 30 years. The ersatz decor from the 70’s of tiled floors, white-washed walls and round tables with pink table clothes are dowdy, yet a local favourite for weddings, birthdays and large groups. Service is slow and unhurried, patrons wait like a naughty school-kids at the door to be noticed for a table.

I have never sighted Sheraton’s menu, only a ramble of verbal recommendations from the proprietress who presumes the dishes you desire to eat. If you ask, she will customise a dish according to your instructions.

Dinner conversational topics can be tricky at times if one has only just been acquainted, it is unwise to talk politics, gossips, rumours or religion, however since I am familiar with my guests, small town gossips and popular culture were infused in our conversation. A current topic at the moment is the verdict of Tony Chan aka Peter Chan, the notorious feng-shui master in Nina Wang’s estate in Hong Kong (here). His original name was Tony Chan, but when the trial began, he was ostracised from the feng-shui community for giving feng-shui masters a bad rap (feng-shui masters in Hong Kong used to be exempt from income tax until the Inland Revenue found out how much they earned), therefore he was forced to retire, get baptised and changed his name to Peter.

In his verdict, the judge Andrew Macrae described Mr Chan as a “shameless” charlatan who had shown “unparalleled greed”. Moreover, in Chinese tradition, it is both despicable and shameless for a man to destroy the reputation of a dead woman who had taken him from being a nobody to be financially super rich (receiving gifts amounting HK$3B), his evil deeds are no different to a certain Datuk Pemanca/ Datuk Perompak in Sibu whose antics of spreading false rumours on a late family member and misrepresentation of himself paints a dishonourably low and unconsciencely cowardly act.

Our pleasant conversations were spurred on by nibbling on the sweetly caramelised Peanuts Cooked in Sweet Soy Sauce.

20130710-213123.jpg

Soy Sauce Peanuts

The first dish to arrive is also the star we have been waiting for – the famed Sheraton’s Curry Fish Head. Ceremoniously brought out on an aluminium burner dish, the fish head bathed in a thick spicy gravy with ladies fingers, eggplants, tofu and gluten skins received much compliments from the out-of-towners. It was an addictive combo of fish, gravy and rice, all cautions regarding calories, carbohydrates, etc were dismissed and it was soon polished clean.

20130710-213351.jpg

Sheraton’s Curry Fish Head

20130710-213359.jpg

Sheraton’s Curry Fish Head

Other more home-styled cooking arrived, the standard Stir-fried Kangkung and Tofu on Minced Pork were all delicious.

20130710-213408.jpg

Stir-fried Kangkung

20130710-213446.jpg

Tofu on Minced Pork

Side-kick to the Curry Fish Head was the Pig’s Trotters. Steamed, then deep-fried it was a heavy dish, nevertheless, I devoured it with favour since I love the fatty tissue (for its omega) and the gelatinous fibres (collagen). The sweet vinegar sauce with chili padi, shallots and onions lubricated the firm meats.

20130710-213455.jpg

Pig’s Trotters

20130710-213504.jpg

Pig’s Trotters

Good thing that I ordered a Blended Kalamansi Juice to cleanse my palate and for a dose of Vitamin C.

20130710-213523.jpg

Blended Kalamansi Juice

Lastly Yam Pudding– a traditional Foochow dessert and Sheraton’s own recipe – Jazz biscuit sandwiched with lotus paste and deep fried – made their appearance and closed curtains for a fine evening.

20130710-213530.jpg

Dessert

This is dining out in style in a small Borneo town of hooligans, something tasty to mark an impression on the out-of-towners and to lure them (and of course the locals) back again and again. I look forward to another round for dinner soon.

On Beating Haze and My Blurry Vision

How was your week, dudes and dudettes?

image

June 23rd 2013 @ 7:20pm: The closest the red burning moon is to the earth for the year.

Most of you have would have heard of the awful haze blanketing Singapore and Malaysia since last week.  These were the effects of open field burnings for clearing agricultural lands in Indonesia, a yearly phenomenon. The air pollution index reached hazardous in Singapore and some parts of Malaysia that schools were closed.  I stayed indoors over the weekend and thought I would do some blogging, but the heat and the smog got the better of me.  Instead, I was rotating between sleeping on my couch and on my bed, the more I lazed around the more tired I got.  I also managed to surf the net while lounging on my sofa – I was reading a dude’s blog on on-line dating, aptly called ’28 dates’.  His quest was to find his Miss Perfect in 28 dates…  Good luck Willard!  (If you ever come to Malaysia, I’ll go on a date with you!)

And so, Monday rolled around and although the haze has improved a little bit, I am still feeling extremely lethargic today, with a puffy face and blurry eyes.  I am even smelling of a BBQ!  (Talk of a non-smoker getting lung cancer!  How under-rated!)

With the heat, the smog and irritated eyes, what could be worst than that?

I broke one of my Ortho-K contact lenses!  (The left one)  Drats!

How did that happen?  I don’t know.  When I took it out of my case and it was already broken in half.  Now, where can I get a replacement in Malaysia, let alone in The Boo?  I thought about asking my optometrist to send me  a replacement from Sydney but then again, my eyes are to due be rechecked – besides,  Ortho-K contact lenses don’t come cheap – at about AUD700 a pair.

So, what’s ‘ortho-k’?  It’s  also known as Orthokeratology to treat far-sightedness, astigmatism, and age-related loss of close vision, but it was first developed to correct myopia.  I wear my lenses to sleep and remove them the next morning.  My vision remains clear the next day, no need for specs and perfect for sporting – no need to worry about sand getting into my eyes or losing my lenses in the middle of a game.

While not guaranteeing a perfect 20/20 vision, I’m still thrilled that it was effective on me – a candidate in her 30s with far-sighted, near-sighted (myopic), and even astigmatism!  It took some time to get the focus right in the beginning as I was under wearing it, then over wearing it.  The optimal shuteye time I found out later for me, is 7 hours.

Back to the present, now what?  

Well, since vision in both my eyes are around the same degree, (except probably the radial circumsphere of tbe eyeball differing), I  decided to wing it by rotating the wear of the lense on each eye until I go back to Sydney end of July for a proper check-up.   Sure, my vision may be impaired the next day if I discontinue wear for one night, with headaches ensuing, but I’m used to it.  (*Tough it out*)

As for the heat, how do I keep my cool?  Stay indoors and eat ice-potongs, dudes!

image

Ice-potongs – a traditional Malaysian popsicle, literally meaning ‘cut ice’

Of Office Politics and A Trip to Bintangor

Date:  June 15 2013

Weekends in The Boo makes me realise how much I love to be at work.  There is hardly anything interesting to do nor malls to go.  The TV series and movies on Astro TV Channels are uninteresting and can be made into historical docos, yet they have them on repeat.   I can’t do any outdoor activities due to the heat and haze.  With the rice-planting season coming next month, the farmers are preparing their land by burning the soil.  Burning has the effect of disinfecting the land while also acting as a natural fertiliser.

Today, I went on a road-trip to Bintangor which is about 45mins away.  All the bumping, rattling and shaking tired me out so I took a nap before my planned run in the evening.  Anyway, I got woken up by an email from the office at 4pm (on a Saturday arvo!!  Some serious OT here…), so I had to draft a reply to the retarded email from a director of the company.  He is also a ‘Datuk Pemanca’, that is ‘Justice of Peace’ or some sort of  leader in the Chinese Community in The Boo.  Let’s check out how retarded he is… Here are some of the highlights…

  1. Reading from prepared scripts (in English) in his thick Foochow accent, peppered with pompous, big, unpronouceable English words  – kinda funny trying to catch what he is saying and ask him to repeat;
  2. Reading from well-rehearsed and co-ordinated dialogues together with his accomplices  – totally like clowns putting on a monkey show, I totally dig that!  
  3. Retarded protocols such as telling a director and a shareholder of the company to meet the CFO of the company (who the hell is the CFO?  What is his name?) in the CFO’s office – Honestly dude, you got the hierarchy wrong.  Shareholder pays CFO’s salary, so CFO meets with Shareholder at the time of her convenience and on her terms! 
  4. Telling the Board of Directors that the Chairman and MD only do PR works, go to government and BOD meetings and NOT management meetings because he only reads Management Reports?  – Hell, aren’t you suppose to ‘manage’ the company.  Are you telling me, the MD only manages Directors?
  5. Shareholders and Directors are not allowed priviledged info – Hang on, Shareholders and Directors are to be kept in the dark without any knowledge of what their company is doing???

Hell!  Now you know what I mean, why I LOVE being at work in the office, lots of correspondences to write, tap, tap, tap, tapping on my keyboard and watching bad sketches.  An encounter with  tyrants/ retards/ idiots/ wankers…is FUN and really livens up the otherwise Boo-hoo-hoo Boo Town!

@@@@@@@@@@

Yes, I have digressed.  My trip to Bintangor… Can you imagine a bridge toll of RM5 per trip?  The trip is less than 1km long!  Penang Bridge costs less!  Who was the MP with the bad Elvis Presley  permed hair-do living in the ivory tower who approved that?  Let’s get the fact straight – RM10 per round trip is big money in The Boo.  Going by the kompia index, a bag of kompia, or Foochow bagels costs RM1 for 4 pieces and they are really filling…go figure!

So, the highlight of Bintangor is Bintangor Rojak from the famous No.7 Stall Wong Hung Ping at the Muslim food court.  This stall has been mentioned in newspapers as the selling the ‘Best rojak in Sarawak’!  A newspaper report is here

image

Rojak:  A plate of pineapples, cucumber, pumpkins, Chinese gourd, deep-fried tofu and Chinese fried dough in sweet pungent caramelised fish sauce.  I especiallu liked the roasted peanut bits on top which gave the dish a wonderful aroma.  It is also very sweet.
image

Fresh Coconut Water:  At RM3, very expensive.  This is old coconut, so the water is sweeter, with thicker,harder and creamier flesh

image

Bintangor Oranges:  Sweet juicy oranges in green skins.  The size of grapefruits

image

Bintangor Mandarins:  Sweet juicy mandarins in green skins.  The size of mandarins
image

Read more on Bintangor here: