July 8, 2015

Sibu Tales : Chendol, Cincau and Jagung

Years ago in Sibu, we could eat Chendol in the Chicken Market, and some stalls in the old Bus Terminal. No coffee shops served chendol or what we call ABC now.

We had our special Chendol hawkers and for only 15 cents we could have a good thirst quencher. I never knew how chendol came about in Sibu, but chendol is definitely not Foochow in origin.

Then slowly, new ingredients came into the mixture, first cincau or grass jelly and then corn.

I have always liked the ORIGINAL chendol, which is red bean, chendol and sago pearls. I will not usually order any other ingredients, although having ALL of them would not cost you more.

The other choice is Evaporated milk or Santan (coconut milk).

Oh yes, you can also have another choice, gula apong (nipah sugar) or plain cane sugar syrup.

Perhaps we really learned how to have great taste buds from this local dessert.

July 6, 2015

Sibu Tales : Long Beans or String Beans

Most Foochow families would grow beans and simple vegetables in their backyard.

My grand aunt, Chang Yuk Ging, whom we called Goo Poh was a very frugal primary school teacher. She lived in the 50th Anniversary Methodist Building on Island Road, within the Methodist Primary School almost the whole of her teaching career, spanning more than 30 years of her life. She lived there even after her retirement until the building had to be demolished.

Behind the building was a small plot of land, which the teachers shared and cultivated some vegetables. I remember Goo Poh loved to grow long beans because they did not take much space and every day she could harvest enough for either lunch or dinner. In order to save more money, she also dried the long beans partially and then had them pickled in red wine lees.

I would always remember how cleverly she cooked long beans in so many different ways . Foochow Curry with Chicken and mixed vegetables, Fried Long beans with Tou Cheong, Fried long beans with some belly pork like in the photos, fried preserved long beans, long bean soup and plain boiled long beans.

As a young student, I really felt that everything cooked by Goo Poh was nice.