Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy and Prosperous New Year 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

客家擂茶釀豆腐午餐 Hakka Tea and Stuffed Bean Curd Lunch

Yesterday, TK hosted a 擂茶釀豆腐 lunch for his siblings and family - eldest sister, second brother, second sister, their spouses and his niece who came into town from Brunei. The last such gathering was nearly two years ago!

As usual, my mum makes the 擂茶 (Hakka Tea) and 釀豆腐 ( Stuffed Bean Curd). The three other side dishes - 樹仔菜 (shuzicai), 長豆 (long bean) and 豆腐蒜 (bean curd-leek) were prepared by me.  TK did most of the preparation-cutting work while the maid was responsible for frying all the 豆腐 (doufu)!

Unfortunately no pictures of the food! All were too busy - preparation to serving takes about four to five hours. 

I think every one enjoyed the meal.  Next time, I will do a couple of articles on the recipes and preparation of the dishes!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

冬至 - Winter Solstice Festival

Today is 冬至(Dōngzhì Festival) or the Winter Solstice Festival.

For the Chinese it is the time, when one adds on one year to one's age and to eat 湯圓 (tangyuan) - small rice balls made from glutinous rice flour and cooked in a sweet syrup. The 湯圓 (tangyuan) are traditionally pink and white in colour but now people use other colours as well. Some of the湯圓 (tangyuan) also comes with fillings  - amongst them are those made from peanuts, sesame seed, or  lotus seed paste.

During the morning's worship and prayers to the family ancestors,  one of the food items amongst the offerings will be 湯圓 (tangyuan).

Of course, the 湯圓 (tangyuan) have to be hand-made at home.  It is pretty easy. All you need are glutinous rice flour and water plus a bit of colouring where necessary. My mum prefers plain pink and white 湯圓 (tangyuan) - no fillings

Knead the mixture to a consistent dough such that it feel like play dough.

The just make the dough into small balls.

Add to boiling water and once they are floating, they are done. For the syrup, it is just plain sugar solution though I add in pandan leaves for a nice pandan flavour. There you have it.

Happy 冬至(Dōngzhì).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Takakura Home Composting Part 1

On Tuesday 30th November, I went to the MBKS Auditorium to attend a talk on Takakura Home Composting (THC). The talk was given by Mr Hii Chang Kee, the Secretary of the SMC (Sibu Municipal Council). The SMC is at the forefront of adopting the THC Method and have been implementing his in Sibu for a number of years under the guidance of Japanese environmentalist, Mr Koji Takakura who pioneered this method in Surabaya, Indonesia.

I have been reading about the THC Method and have been interested in it. Now, armed with first-hand information on how to do it, decide to implement this method of composting. We have tried some home composting but the process is extremely slow and seems to takes months, if not years. Apparently, this THC method is very much faster and takes weeks only to do it properly.

To start off the process, I need to make the seed compost. In Sibu, the THC method is implemented at the Municipal, school and NGOs level - making the seed compost easily available to everyone. In Kuching, MBKS has yet to start off the process. So in Kuching, one have to make the seed compost. To make the seed compost, I started the following :

1. Sugar Fermentation Solution - water, brown sugar and tempe (or other fermented food like yogurt, taucheo). Ferment for 3-5 days until a fine layer of white mould can be seen on top.

2. Salt fermentation Solution - water, salt and fruit peels/vegetable scraps. Similarly, ferment for 3-5 days until a fine layer of white mould can be seen on top.

3. 60L Plastic basket/case with holes on the sides.

4. Rice bran and rice husk.

Items 1-3 are easily available but item 4 should be a headache for most people. Luckily some of my staff's families grow their own padi and have their padi milled at their kampong rice mills. So they were able to provide me with the bran and husks.

To be continued.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Very Sour Fruit ....

We have one belimbing buluh/asam or 杨桃酸 (Averrhoa bilimbi) tree at the back of the garden courtesy of my younger brother, Tak. It is a fast growing and rather attractive tree.

The tree produces bunches of  flower buds directly off the tree trunk. This is normal for camias.

The flowers are deep maroon in colour and are small but very attractive and seems to attract  a lot of insects.

The Belimbing fruit has a sour acidic taste compared to the much sweeter and tastier relative, the starfruit (known in the west as the carambola) and has a very high content of Vitamin C.

The tree is very productive, flowering and fruiting in abundance - with bunches of the fruits hanging off the main trunk!

How to deal with the bounty crop? It is used in some traditional medicines but at home, we use them for making drinks and dips and in cooking.

Put them into a blender. Add salt, sugar syrup and ice - you get a very nice tangy cold drink!

Or mash them and then fry with belacan and chilli to get a very nice sour belacan sambal as our Indonesian maid did.

My younger brother, however, prefers them cooked with peeled prawns. This make for a very very tasty prawn dish - which is why he has this tree growing in my garden!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Wriggly Snack

Years ago, the Satok Weekend Market was the sale centre for wild birds/animals and local wild game meat like wild boar, bats, etc were available. Nowadays, it is a much tamer affair and the wildest meat may be that of the local kampung chicken! :-)

Still, that does not means that one of Sarawak's best known local delicacy is not available. It is but is seasonal. Yup, it is our very own local bite-sized wriggly snack .....

The sago worm is the larva of the Sago Palm Weevil or Red Palm Weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus). To "farm" these worms, the locals cut down the sago palm and leave it in a wet water-logged area. Presumably, the sago palm weevils will deposit eggs inside these rotting sago trunk and the developing larvae grow fat inside the trunk.

Here, these worms are eaten as a snack - raw or fried like pieces of crinkled chips  though with very with crunchy heads :-) 

To fry them, just wash the worms and rinse with water a couple of times. Pat them dry and then throw them into a hot pan - add some oil and fried them. Then use the spatula to flatten them ....[squissssh].


Once brown, they are ready to eat :-) - our very own high protein crinkly chips!