Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Dish of Nostalgia

I wonder how many of you can remember this particular local Sarawak (maybe, Malaysian, too) delicacy. Presumably, only those who are in their forties or older would have seen this  dish on a regular basis on the dining table! Now, few youngsters will eat this dish. This particular delicacy  - albeit an acquired taste - is  also now rarely seen or sold in the local market.

So do you all remember the small crabs pickled in brine ....?

If I am not mistaken, the crab is the sand bubbler crabs that can be found on all the beaches or along the fresh/marine riverine/mangroves zones near the sea. Catching this crab for pickling used to be a thriving industry for many fishermen - but which no longer provides a  viable income for the fishermen of today.

I saw this for sale at a stall in E-Mart along Matang Road, Kuching. I resisted it at first but then had to go back and buy some.  The price is RM48 per kg!

To eat the crab, you need to take each one and do a quick rinse and brush. Remove and discard the gills and clean the inside of the carapace properly retaining only the flesh and roe (if any). Cut the legs into sections/ Place all in a small dish, add sliced chilli, small  lime (limau kasturi) juice and some vinegar (optional).

It is eaten as a side dish with rice and is a fantastic delicacy. How any of you are are actually developing a hankering for this dish of nostalgia now?

Nowadays, I eat this dish with some trepidation - worried in case I develop food poisoning :-) and that does take some of the joy out of eating this lovely delicacy! A sure sign of old age!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Prickly Beauty

In our garden, we have only one plant with orange flowers though we do have other plants with flowers that have touches of orange.

The Wax Rose (Pereskia bleo) is, surprisingly, a temperate zone plant from Panama/Colombia that seems to do very well here. Apparently, there are yellow and pink varieties but I have only seen the orange one. Our bush is about 60 cm (2') but just behind the Boulevard SC in Kuching, you can see a 3.5 m (11.5') foot tree!

Truly a real beauty adorn with deadly sharp spines that jutted out from every one of the leaf nodes. Each leaf node have some half a dozen needle-like spines. Each time we re-pot, we had to wear thick gloves and still got injured - so we mostly leave this plant alone - only adding water and fertiliser as required!

Just look at those wicked-looking spines!

The young spines (seen above) are shorter, thicker, slightly more flexible but the matured spines (below) are hard sharp needles!

In spite of the spines, the glorious striking orange colour  of the flowers make this plant a big plus for the garden. 

When the flowers drop off, seed pods develop ......

The propagation of this plant is by cutting and the cuttings,  unlike the cacti, cannot be rested but must be potted immediately.

On a side note, I have read in various TCM magazines that the leaves of this plants are used in traditional medicines. I also came across in this article the following tidbit :

The leaves of Pereskia bleo (Kunth) DC. (Cactaceae) are used traditionally in Malaysia for the treatment of cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and diseases associated with rheumatism and inflammation. They are also used as remedy for the relief of gastric pain, ulcers and for revitalizing the body. The leaves are generally consumed by the locals either raw or taken as a concoction brewed from fresh leaves.  

The above information is just for your academic interest and not  medical information of any sort. DO NOT ever DIY any herbal concoctions from this plant for consumption. I still need you all to read this blog!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy Birthday to Mum

To Mum on her 86th Birthday

福 如 東 海 長 流 水

壽 比 南 山 不 老 松


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Glochidion littorale (Monkey Apple)

I do have a few plants in the garden; the flowers of which are pretty small and not particularly attractive. However, their attraction are in the nice ornamental beautiful fruits that they produce. 

Like this one .... Glochidion littorale (Monkey Apple).

This plant was sown from seeds taken from a bush I saw along the fence of an abandoned house. I had to go back a few times before I was able to retrieve some ripened seeds. It then took me three tries at germinating the seeds before the seedlings appeared after about a couple of months! As the original bush was quite big and pretty wild, I did not really want to plant it in the ground. So I had three seedlings transplanted to pots.

I was unable to identify the plant until I asked in the Green Culture Singapore Forum and got an answer pretty fast from one reader called AhSeng. According to him, it is the Glochidion littorale. I use this tip to get more information on this plant from here which said that it has several local names - Monkey Apple, Ubah, Jambu kera , Selunsor, Hujan panas, or Daun san sik. The plant has both male and female flowers - something which escape me when I looked at the tiny flowers (c 2-3mm) before! Now I know.

The open flower is the female flower while the little knobs seen near it are the male flowers.

 The new fruits are green and are of varying sizes.

The larger unripened green fruits.

Each of the fruits is about 15-20mm in size and the colour changes to pinkish-to-red as they ripen.

Look at the colorful fruits - they remind me of a sweet that we used to eat as children.

The ornamental fruits looks even more spectacular once the fruit ripens and the skin of the fruit dries up to expose the bright orange-red seeds - it clearly shows that the fruits are segmented with one seed in each segment.

As an aside, apparently the young red leaves are edible :-)

Monday, October 11, 2010


In June, we had our first harvest of figs from the lone fig tree in our garden but it was a small harvest. 

It's October now and the fig tree is now about 1.5 m (5') feet tall with two main branches fruiting quite heavily. There are some 50 fruits on these two branches which are ripening individually. The figs are of a fair size - mostly about 3 cm in diameter when ripened and very sweet.

So far, it is a battle between humans and birds for the figs. To date, it is 6:3 in favour of the humans. :-) I need to get some proper netting for this plant!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Salted Mustard (芥菜)

Mum suddenly decided that she wanted to make some salted vegetables using local mustard (芥菜). She prefers the home-made some and always claimed that the commercially-prepared ones are slightly too sour for her liking. It has been a while since we last made some at home. So I got some local mustard from a shop that specifically stated that the vegetables are from their own farms that do not use pesticide.

For this batch, we did not want to make too much - just two big stalk of the mustard.

First wash each blade of the mustard and shake off the excess water; then lay the mustard out onto a bamboo tray to dry off the surface water in the sun. Make sure not to dry the actual mustard!

Slice the mustard into thin strips ...

Place the sliced mustard into a large mixing bowl.

Add half a tablespoon of fine salt and  mix well, crushing the mustard with the hand. Taste the mustard, if under-salted, add a bit more salt.

The salted mustard is ready for bottling.

It can be eaten wihtin 24 hours. 

How does one eat this salted mustard? 

Well, like this ... take some of the salted mustard, add crushed dried shrimps, sliced chilli and rice vinegar.

It is a  great side dish to go with porridge or even, in my case, plain rice.

For something more substantial - fry the salted mustard with sliced belly pork (or chicken), crushed garlic, ginger strips and sliced chillis. Add dark soya sauce for flavour. You can add a bit of sugar if you want but but I do not use sugar in most of my cooking. Please note that it is advisable to wash the salted mustard with water first before cooking. This is to reduce the salt content.

It is a great dish to go with rice!

This salted mustard is easy to make and great to eat. Try making some yourselves!