November 19, 2012

Fried Cabbage with Corned Beef in Sibu

The 8 bombs were dropped by the Allied Combined Airforce on Sibu. My mother and her siblings in Nang Chong Village came out of their home to watch the smoke rising up in the direction of Sibu town .

3 years and 8 months of Japanese Occupation ended and people all along the Rajang River Basin cheered. Finally they could be free of the Japanese soldiers.

Soon aeroplanes were flying every where and food and clothes were air dropped.

My mother remembers people talking about receiving food packages. But she herself never got to get any of those "air dropped food and clothes".

However soon the town was full of soldiers and tinned food . An uncle brought back a precious tin of corned beef and they fried the beef. Most older China born Chinese in those days could not tolerate the "beefy" smell . But being hungry children were not choosey. Mum said perhaps this was the reason why the younger Sarawak Foochow generation could "eat" beef because they had so little to eat during the Japanese Occupation.

My mother's cousin(Lau Ing Biew) was a cook for the Sibu Sacred Church priests and my grandmother often visited him and learned a few recipes from him. My grandmother brought vegetables and chickens to this uncle and she and I would stay for "tea" ( or what was not eaten by the priests). It was quite interesting to visit the House of the Priests. Uncle being a filial nephew welcomed an aunt's visit. He treated my grandmother as his mother actually, calling him Mui Ling or last aunt. I loved walking to the Sing Hu Chuo (priests' house) which was actually not far from our Brooke Drive home. We passed by a Malay Kampong and then some shop houses.

I truly believe my grandmother learned how to cook Cabbage with Corned Beef from him.

this is a tin of corned beef from Australia. And in a way Corned Beef and Cabbage is a kind of national dish of the Australians.

Many people however feel that the origin of fried cabbage with corned beef originated with the coming of the Australian soldiers in Sarawak soils. My Sg. Aup Iban friends adhere to this origin. they have cooked in this way since the arrival of the Allied Soldiers they say.

A Sarawak version of cabbage with some dried chillies and a bit of dried meat...Cabbage can be such a great vegetable, any time of the year, anytime of the day!!

this is a google photo of cabbage in corned beef..

My friend Mena Westley in Perth cooks a fantastic cabbage with corned beef (with freshly made corned beef bought in Canningvale market) and it is really delicious. Freshly made corned beef is really different from tinned corned beef. I wish I could air fly some fresh corned beef from Perth for my mother in Kuching!!

thanks to the Allied Forces in 1945, people of Sibu not only gained their freedom from Japanese rulers but were blessed with an excellent dish - Fried Cabbage with Corned Beef.

(Other stories another time on this blog so stay tuned)


andru said...

Have not tasted corned beef in years. Love to try this fried cabbage with corned beef.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Yes, you will love it ...try to get a good cabbage..

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