Sibu Tales : Peter Goulart

Peter Goulart arrived in Bukit Lan, and various parts of Sibu, Sarikei and Kanowit to help set up cooperatives in the 50's. The result of which is the book, "The River of White Lily", or Ba Hua Oh. He was Russian but he loved to travel in China where he worked as a tanner in South Western China,in li jiang, along the Tea Horse Trails area. He was a compassionate man who also taught the tribes there how to do small business, including tailoring and shoe making, leather making etc.When the political changes which caused China to have a change of government in 1949 he went to live in Singapore and was soon employed by the British Colonial Government to help Sarawak develop cooperative societies. His skill in spoken Mandarin and a few other Chinese dialects like Cantonese was one of the reasons why he was chosen to be a consultant.Soon he became familiar with places like Sarikei and Sibu, where he frequented the Three Friends Coffee shop or San Yew Kopitiam of Sibu.
He helped…

Sarawakian Local Delights : Natural Adhesive from the Insect Malau

The white coloured malau leaves behind a gift for the Ibans and the Bidayuhs in the jungle. Older generations go about the jungles looking for a hardened matter left by the Malau after they have feasted on the tree barks. It is not exactly easy to find these precious "resin".

This is the unprocessed bit of hardened secretion left by the Malaus

Smaller pieces scraped from a tree in the jungle.

This is a tubular piece of processed (cleaned too) of malau. The shape is due to melting of the malau resin in a bamboo canister by my sister in law who is an expert in looking for malau. This piece (which she calls "baka tai/like shit")can last for a long long time and will not "expire". So there is no used by date for this product.

One of the uses of malau is to fix the parang or duku handle on to the sharp blade. The malau is so permanent that the Ibans and Bidayuhs in the longhouse do not often have trouble caused by lose handles!!

This is my sister-in-law's …

Sibu Tales : Gambling durimg the White Rajah's Time

The Rajah visited each division regularly and met with the public in the government office.  In mid 1933, when the Rajah was about to visit Sibu, I thought a Christian should take positive action, so together with my friends we wrote a petition to the Rajah, listing out all the harms caused by gambling and appealed to him to ban gambling.  

The letter was signed by quite a number of people and endorsed by some shopkeepers with their chops.  I submitted the letter to the Resident Mr Adam for him to pass to the Rajah.  When the day came for us to meet the Rajah, Sii Tuong Nang, Lau Kah Tii, Wong King Huo, myself and some other friends were present.  The Rajah took up the matter on gambling and asked if any petitioner was present.  I stood up and said that the general public would like his Highness to ban gambling so that the society could be peaceful. 
The secretary of the Rajah, Mr. Barnie said,” You Christians could stay out of gambling, there are many others who want to gamble.  Beside…

Sarawakian Local Delights : Saute'ed Durian Flowers

When the durian tree flowers every one gets excited for two reasons. It heralds a good harvest in about 5 months' time and when the flowers start to drop their petals, food can be made from them! The flowers are edible. Here is a recipe adapted from famous blogger Xiaofeng Huang. Malaysian Vegetarian Food Blog.
Ingredients :
a tablespoon or more of belacan
l tsp of pounded dried chillies 1 tsp curry powder some lemon grass stalks, crushed 300 g clean durian flowers, blanched and rinsed 3 tbsp oil  salt to taste

Stir fry method.

Sarawakian Local Delights : Pedada

Pedada is a mangrove swamp fruit which grows wild. In fact the tree is actually a type of mangrove with small leaves , and small trunks and branches. In Sarawak the pedada grows along most of the rivers and even near the sea coasts as the tree tolerate sea water.

It is also known a Crabapple mangrove or Mangrove Apple. Its scientific name is Sonnerata caseolaris scientificallym

The fruits are edible and are usually eaten as a salad with a belacan sambal. They are a bit tart, so a sourish dip is good.

Pedada wood can be used as fishing net floats.

fire flies seem to like the sap of the fruits so in some heavily pedada wooded river banks, these fire flies would stay put at night and create a very surreal atmosphere.

Sibu Tales : First Rice Mill of Sibu

The first rice mill of Sibu was established by the Methodist Church and Rev James Hoover who brought the rice huller machine all the way from the USA. He was also instrumental in bringing electricity to Sibu.

Named Cochrane Rice Mill, it was very much welcomed by the Foochows and people of the Rajang Valley for rice milling then became easier and the processing of rice grains to rice for cooking took less time and effort. The rice huller was two ton and powered by a 10 horsepower engine.

It was donated by a Pennsylvania Christian woman.

The rice mill charged  30 cents a bag to remove the rice husks.

Sarawakian Local Delights : Mixed Vegetables, Longhouse Style

A special mixed vegetable dish in the longhouse is made from pumpkin, ladies' fingers, fern tops or paku, wood ears and cucumber leaves.

Sometimes it is humourously called the Queen's Dish, or a dish fit for a king,  because it is grand and it is very sweet. It is not necessary to add any seasoning, although many cooks still would add some aji-no=moto. The organic taste of this dish is most superior.

The sliced onions, garlic , some dried fish or prawns and ginger are boiled with a bowl of water. When the water boils, pumpkin is first added to the soup and once the pumpkin is soft, all the other vegetables are added. Note that oil is not used unless desired by the chef.

When all the vegetables are cooked, serve immediately.