Saturday, May 28, 2011

Terung Dayak

The Terung Dayak (Sour Brinjal, Solanum ferox L.) can be found throughout South East Asia but this plant/fruit seems to be unique to Sarawak in the sense that the fruits are used in a multitude of dishes in "Sarawak" cuisine. 

I use the term "Sarawak" as it is used in cooking by nearly every community in Sarawak be they Chinese, Iban, Malay, Bidayuh or any other local races. I have not seen this fruit sold or eaten in West Malaysia or Singapore.

Easily grown locally, the plants in my garden were the result of the seeds left in the water, after washing/cutting the fruit,  which I then used for watering the plants in the garden!


The ripened fruit is very sour and used in many ways to make delicious dishes and amongst my favourite dishes - in thin slices to steam with fish, quartered to cook in soup with belacan/chilli or with fish (especially terubok), and so on.

One thing about this plant - just take a look at the hook-like needle sharp thorns.

They are lethal!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Nostalgia Food 2 - Pickled Squids or Sotong

Most of you oldies should remember, in the old days, seeing at the wet market, basins of small pinkish-white pickled whole sotong (local name for squid (English)) for sale. They are not not seen any more as the pickled sotong are now sold pre-sliced in capped bottles! More hygienic but one can on longer sniff at  them to see how good they are before purchasing! That whiff is a dash of nostalgia ...

In the past, my mum used to make them, albeit very rarely, during the squid season when the price of fresh sotong was low. However, with the disappearance of the pickled whole sotong from the market and the introduction of the bottled ones, she started to made the pickle at home. According to her, the bottled ones do not taste as nice and I do agree with her.

Recently, she decided to make a fresh batch at home .... and so I trotted off to the wet market at Sg. Maong, Kuching to buy 3 kg of sotong. I was told to pick the smaller ones.

The fresh sotong ....

Rinse the sotong with running tap water - just once. No gutting is required - and make sure that the ink sacs are still intact. Any sotong with a burst sac would turn the whole batch of pickled sotong black! Drain well.

For 3 kg of sotong, add about three handful of salt to the salt.

Mix well.

Place the salted sotong into glass jars and top off the jar with a thin layer of salt. Seal well.

After about one month, the pickled sotong is ready. Just slice into thin strips and add sliced chilli and some vinegar. Instead of the vinegar, you can also use the juice from a small  lime (limau kasturi).

This is a delicious side dish and a great "rice-chaser"! Yummy.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bananas ...

A while back, TK's second sister-in-law gave us two offshoots from her banana grove in her garden. She told us that the banana plant is of the dwarf variety and fruits well. The two offshoots were planted right at the back of the garden next to the chicken hut and our local guava tree.

The banana plant grow to about 2 metres and then produce the inflorescence.

The unopened banana inflorescence.
The banana inflorescence, now, partially opened.

Partially opened with fruits.
Just look at the amazing symmetry of the bunch of bananas!

The bananas looks like they are of the the dwarf cavendish variety.

First sign of the ripening fruits ....
The bunch of the bananas was cut down and the harvest was a grand total of 84 bananas with a total weight of 17 kg.

The naturally ripened bananas are very sweet but ripens pretty fast. There is no way we can finish them so we gave most of them to my younger brother. At least he got lots of employees at the shops to eat them!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day but we celebrated the event earlier as there are the expected big crowds at restaurants today and my brother is also away this weekend on a business trip. So, last Saturday, we all trotted off to BIG OVEN, just off Jalan Zainal Adruce (Kereta Api), which served western cuisine.

This is mum. 

She is 86, hale and hearty with very good appetite. She loves eating and enjoys most cuisines. At home, we mostly restrict her to fish, fruits and vegetables. However, when eating out, beside Chinese dishes, she loves eating at Italian restaurants (especially meals with vegeroni spiral pasta and pizzas) and all fast food chain restaurants (you can name any one!! ).

At the Big Oven that evening, she had bruschetta and calamari followed by braised cod with a tomato-based sauce, on a bed of mashed potatoes with salad. The meal ended with a slice of the cheese cake.

A very enjoyable meal for her:-)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Garlic Vine (Pseudocalyma alliaceum)

Another sturdy flowering climber in our creeper garden is the Garlic Vine (Pseudocalyma alliaceum). This plant is a favourite of TK and I think he got it from his second sister, Chuo. It is a dazzling vine when in full bloom with bunches of purple-white flowers. It also  has a pleasant garlic-like smell.


They are gorgeous, are they not? If you have the space, it is a must-have plant - very easy to maintain and flowers consistently. However, when all the flowers withered, it leaves an unsightly mess which must be cleared immediately!

Apparently, the garlic vine is used in cooking for its garlic-like smell, in traditional herbal medicines for a variety number of ailments and to keep snakes away from the garden. I really have no idea as to the culinary, medical or practical efficacy of this plant!.