Whitebait

littleborneogirl

The word whitebait does not refer to a single species. It is a general term used in many countries to describe small freshwater fish that are tender and edible.

In spring, whitebait (could be various species about 4-5 cm long) make their way upstream from the sea, swimming near the river’s edge. Large shoals are referred to as runs.  Big runs often follow floods, a few days after the water clears – usually in the daytime on a rising tide.  White baiters will catch and sell them around $120 per kg which makes whitebait a delicacy.

NZ Whitebait is tender and the entire fish is edible including head, fins, bones and guts.

Chinese whitebait is raised in fish farms and plentiful quantities are produced for export. The Chinese whitebait (silverfish) is larger than the New Zealand whitebait and not nearly so delicate. The frozen product is commonly available in supermarkets at…

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It must be Golden Churn

What is Golden Churn?

This is a household name for premium butter in Singapore, Malaysia, China and also perhaps other Asian countries.

Golden Churn is imported butter made either in New Zealand or Australia.  It came in a 340gram tin (mostly made in NZ) or 250g foil wrapped (made in Australia).   It is a halal product, indicating that a great chunk of the product is for the overseas market.

It’s the time of the year where Golden Churn is so much sought after.  When the festivals are here, it is time for making cookies, cakes and everything nice.  All bakers put in their best efforts with the best ingredients so their goodies will melt in your mouth with a taste of pure creamy butter.

Indeed it must be Golden Churn, goodness guaranteed.

While the rush for Golden Churn is happening in Singapore, Malaysia, China (and elsewhere), this is definitely not happening here in New Zealand or Australia where this butter is supposedly from.

I wonder if many overseas buyers know that Golden Churn is not even in our supermarket shelves.  These are the butter you see at our local supermarket shelves.

Thinking that we live in New Zealand, my elderly aunt beamed every time we return home to Malaysia and gifted her with tins of Golden Churn, her whole year’s supply, not realizing that we had to specially go to the Souvenir Shops to grab her favourite Golden Churn.

What a bliss, sometimes we left the gifts shopping till the last minute and still managed to see displays of Golden Churn along with other gifts at duty free shops at the airport.  Aren’t it blissful when you don’t have to crack your head to think hard what to buy for this aunty or that aunty.

Way to go, Golden Churn.  Goodness guaranteed !

By the way, do you know that it is cheaper to buy Golden Churn in Malaysia (for example) than to buy them in Australia or New Zealand?

Jolly BBQ

It’s been edges since I had the time to sit back and blog.

The festive season is close and as always December is a wonderful time.  Being summertime, it is time for the outdoors.  It’s festive time too so it is a time to be jolly, a time of giving, eating and rejoicing.

We got the family and close friends round to my place for a get-together with a jolly good bbq of mussels, fish, salad, a very long German Bratwurst sausage and thick special ordered rump fillet from our regular butcher.

Our little grandbaby joined in the fun posing her big smile for photos.

Everyone had a good jolly time.

Family isn’t always blood.
It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs;
the ones who accept you for who you are.
The ones who would do anything to see you smile
and who love you no matter what.

Taste of Auckland 2017

Yearly, Taste of Auckland transforms Western Springs into a food haven.

It is an event not to be missed.  You get the opportunity to try signature dishes from some of Auckland’s most exciting restaurants in a beautiful al fresco setting surrounded by pop-up winery stands, food stalls and drink experiences.  I went all out with a huge backpack as my shopping bag.

This year, we visited on the last day of the event.  The weather was wet and miserable which in fact was a bonus as we managed to get a car park without having to walk as far as we usually did in previous years.  The sun did come out eventually so it was a nice transformation from rain to shine!

There were ten top restaurants taking part.  In fact, I thought there were more stalls last year but I may be wrong.  Definitely, I could not find the stall selling smoked juicy salmon.  How I craved those thick juicy cubes on crackers.  We bought lots of dips and snacks home but no salmon this year.

My friend was attracted to the hangi, a traditional New Zealand Māori method of cooking food using heated rocks buried in a pit oven.  I knew the meat would be bland (strictly my own opinion) but he was in front of the camera so had to make the bite look mouth-watering for others, I supposed.

We should have gone to Miss Moonshine instead as they had the best display.

I had bunny chow from 1947 Eatery which was quite nice but very spicy. Bunny chow is a very interesting dish.

During the Great Depression in 1933 Indians, whites and Chinese in Durban, South Africa, suffered hunger like everyone else.  The kids then discovered that the cheapest curry they could buy (for a quarter penny or half a penny) was made by a vegetarian Indian caste known in Durban (slang as the Bania). It was made from dried sugar beans (no meat). The children didn’t have plates, and one kid got the bright idea to hollow out a quarter bread, asked the seller to put the bean curry in the hollowed-out bread, and then used the broken bread he’s taken out as a sort of eating utensil. Chinese food was called “chow”. Somehow the two words came together: Bania Chow.  In time, it simply became known as Bunny Chow.

Bunny Chow was what the Indian sugar plantation workers took as their day’s food to the lands: curry in hollowed-out bread halves. Cheap and practical … 

We were looking for Tok Tok but by the time we found our favourite stall, our tummy no longer have room for their yummilicous crispy duck.  Too bad we couldn’t fit in the curry fish either.  How disloyal were we then, though it now gives us all the reason to travel all the way to Tok Tok, Takapuna for a proper dine-in.

In between that, we sampled lots and lots of sausages and I seemed to have gone off drinking so our two glasses that came with the tickets were pretty much souvenir pieces in that end.  I knew I have quite a few of them that we brought home yearly and never used.  What a hoarder.

Indeed, Taste of Auckland is quite an expensive day out though we only spent 140 crowns ($140) this visit which included entries for two and 80 crowns for spending amongst the two of us.  This was a lot less than last year’s spendings as there were no bottles of wine, beer or salmon in my backpack!

 

Dilmah Tea and all the rest

Dilmah tea is a household name in New Zealand.  It is one of the premium tea that line the shelves at all our local supermarkets.

Dilmah, founded by Merrill J. Fernando, today the world’s most experienced teamaker, has championed quality, authenticity and variety in tea. Dilmah pioneered the concept of Single Origin Tea in 1988 when the family company went against industry trends to declare its commitment to authenticity. Garden fresh, unblended tea is a hallmark of Dilmah and offers a unique taste of unblended Ceylon Tea packed at source.

I was given a pack of Dilmah’s new infusions for sampling at The Very Vintage Day Out recently.  Infusions and herbal teas are a rising trend amongst tea-drinking consumers.

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I enjoyed the Coconut & Mango the best.  The Ginger & Peppermint was nice and so is the Cardamon, Ginger & Orange and honestly, I had to throw the Cinnamon, Turmeric, Ginger & Nutmeg away.  I do not often waste food (just a habit and drink is food too) but that flavour did not suit me and it was almost undrinkable.  Can’t really describe how it tasted like, just simply ‘not my taste’!

tea

I often need a cup of coffee to start my day but I drink tea throughout the day, at least two to three cups a day.  In fact, drinking as little as a cup of tea daily may be good for your heart health, new research suggests.

However, don’t go overboard with tea.  As with most things, too much of some things may not always be good for you.

Drink tea if you enjoy it, in moderation, and not because you’re taking it as a medicine.

Quote Dr. Howard Sesso, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School

My food for thought today in a nutshell;

A cup or two of tea is good for you, be it Dilmah or any other trusted brand.

Porridge or Congee

My first taste of porridge (‘mui’ in Hokkien or Teochew) was when I was a baby weaned off milk to solids.

I grew up associating porridge as rice cooked and simmered with plenty of water till soft and creamy.  When young, I saw porridge as a food for babies or young children and people recovering from illness.  Porridge are soft solid food, easily digested.

Another name for porridge is congee but in Malaysia and Singapore, porridge is the common term.  Porridge or congee is now readily available as a hawker food or ‘street eats’.

Teochew (one of the local Chinese dialect) Porridge is a rice porridge dish accompanied with various small plates of side dishes such as preserved egg, beancurd, plain egg omelette, canned food such as black bean fish, etc.  This is a popular hawker food when you are looking for something light for breakfast or supper.

teochewporridge

Other porridge dishes are rice cooked with chicken, pork or fish (known as chicken, pork or fish porridge) and some like it added with egg for additional flavouring making it more creamier.

porridge

For the greater part of my life, porridge to me is associated with rice.  When I moved to New Zealand, I found that everyone was confused when I served them porridge that to them is NOT porridge.  (Confusing enough).

To many non-Asians, porridge is milk with oats, weetbits, cereals or muesli.

weet_bix_cereal_milk

To avoid the confusion of everyone, when craving for porridge, I must say “congee” or Chinese porridge.

When someone asks for porridge for breakfast here, they mean cereals with milk, not rice porridge!

What is porridge to you?

Kumara, Spinach & Bacon Quiche

As I create new dishes, I am also starting to blog my recipes on Little Borneo Girl.

My blog Little Girl Story has almost run out of space as I only have a free blog.

Please follow me at Little Borneo Girl.

Happy Blogging and enjoy my recipes.

littleborneogirl

I love to cook whenever I have a weekday off.

Today, I bought a bag of spinach and there were bacon, eggs and three orange Kumaras (Beauregard) aka Sweet Potatoes in my pantry.  Trying to minimise carbs in my diet lately, I did away with pastry sheets and used the Kumaras as the base for my quiche.

Our body requires a certain amount of carbohydrate to fuel the brain and the muscles.  As a child, I was told that I must finish my plate of rice so I will grow up healthy and smart.  In fact, we ought to know that the issue is not carbs themselves but what we do to them.  It is the heavy processing that tends to strip carbs of essential nutrients that leads to them being digested more rapidly than we would if we consumed them in their natural state.  In other words, there are good…

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Most popular food in New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore

If you were to identify the most popular food, just one food in each country, what would that dish be?

The list would be endless as there are so many yummy edibles.  There is definitely more than just one single type of food for each country but this blog shows only one dish out of the many.

People eat different kind of food for breakfast, lunch or dinner so the below are more on lighter meals more for brunch, snacks or finger food (for New Zealand & Australia), not the usual formal dinner food.

New Zealand
The population in New Zealand (especially Auckland) is so diverse so we have all sorts of food from Filipino, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Japanese, Malaysian, Singapore, Vietnam, Turkish, Mediterranean, Middle East, Dutch, French, European, Kiwi cuisines and lots more.

In New Zealand, we eat anything from

  • Roast Lamb. Succulent and tender, roast lamb is a Kiwi favourite. …
  • Māori hāngī The hāngī was the most widely used method of cooking by Māori for more than 2000 years. …
  • Fish and Chips on the beach
  • New Zealand sweets, candies
  • New Zealand Desserts
  • Cheese and Wine
  • Chinese (Thai) Takeaways
  • Pizzas, Pies & Quiches

As the list goes one, I will pick what we have in abundance, our “Fush & Chups” on the beach.  They used to be wrapped in old newspaper years ago but now some restaurants printed their wrapping paper making it look like newspaper to keep the traditional look.

Fish-Chip1

Australia
Our neighbour’s cuisine is so like ours.  They boast they have the best pies but we sing the same tune too.  For this post, we will give Australia the honour to share their pies as their popular food.

Australian cuisine (similar to New Zealand) is heavily influenced by British colonization, with many popular foods in the country coming directly from English or Irish cuisine traditions. Other food traditions in Australia include roast dinners, fish and chips, and blood pudding. Iconic foods unique to Australia include Vegemite, Tim Tams, fairy bread and the fried Australian hamburger.

Australia like New Zealand has abundance of sea food and I love their barramundi fish and blue mussels where the flesh is not as big or rubbery (chewy) as our local NZ mussels.

meatpie

Malaysia & Singapore
Eating out is a past time for Malaysians and Singaporeans.  With numerous hawker styled food courts, it is generally cheaper and more convenient to eat out after 8 to 10 hours of work, Mondays to Fridays.  While official work hours are either from 8am to 4pm (or 9am to 5pm), often workers do not leave their office till 6pm.  When one is flat out at work, isn’t eating out the most rewarding thing to do? Enough slaving at work so time for others to ‘slave’ or cook for you.

Most Malaysian Singaporean dishes are rice or noodles based.  One unique trait Singaporeans and Malaysians share is that they insist on having chilli with anything they eat.  Any noodle dish is not complete without chilli padi (bird’s eye chili) in soya sauce and laksa (spicy noodle soup) isn’t laksa if it does not come with a side of sambal (hot sauce made from chili and spices).

It’s hard to name just one popular dish in Malaysia with its 13 states in all.  Since I was born in Kuching, Sarawak, I will pick kolo mee for Malaysia and growing up in Singapore, I would say Chicken Rice is one of their many popular dishes.

While New Zealanders and Australian greet each other with
“What’s up, mate?” or “How are you?”

Malaysians and Singaporeans often ask
“Chiak Pah Boi?” “Have you eaten?” especially the older folks though the trend now is moving towards “Lu Ho Bo?” meaning “How are you?”.

Indeed there are so many things to talk about with this simple four letter word  FOOD, so much so that we entertain clients with food and drinks to build the connection (Guangxi) and break the ice for a mutual win-win situation in businesses as well as bonding with family and friends.

From the desk of a foodie ……………………………..

Ways of cooking Chokos

I recently discovered a very weird kind of  vegetable and been savouring them in all sorts of dishes.

I used to have a choko tree in the house I rented some years back and I never knew what that ‘fruit’ was.

What are chokos?

Choko

Chokos are vegetables (some called it a fruit) native to Central America.  They were taken to Europe by Spanish explorers and from there were introduced to parts of Asia.  They are pear shaped and the smaller or young ones are green and the bigger ones are lighter green in color.  The grew to be about 10 to 15cm long and are pretty solid.

The Cantonese literally named this vegetable as Buddha’s hand melon (佛手瓜 fut sao gwa) mainly because it looks like a pair of palms clasping together in prayer.

The Jamaicans called this vegetable Chocho.

Their skin are pretty tough so before cooking, peel off the skin and cut into halves to remove the seed.  Chop the chokos in bite sizes or thinly sliced into strips.

Stir fry is the best way to cook them.  I added garlic, chicken stock, egg and a dash of soya sauce, oyster sauce (or hoisin sauce) and finished off with a dash of Chinese wine.

 

Chokos are delicious and has its own natural sweetness.  I also used it as a filling for spring rolls.  Sliced thinly and stir fried the same way as above, add a spoonful of cornflour (diluted with water) to thicken the dish.  Leave to cool and then fill into spring rolls sheet.  I usually make them in batches and freeze.  Handy to pan fried when ready to eat.

Choko tastes a bit like ‘Bang Kuang’ (Jicama or Mexican Turnip) which are not available in New Zealand so Chokos are great substitute for homemade Popiah (Hokkien name for Spring Rolls that are not deep fried) and Spring Rolls.

 

One important tip to note before you start picking any fruits (veggies) thinking they must be chokos and start cooking them.

Chokos grow on vine, similar to a weed called moth plant.

Moth plant has a sap that irritates our skin when in contact and is a deadly weed.  They are lighter (in weight) not a solid as chokos.

I am a bit weary in the beginning when I first ate chokos with the phobia that I could be poisoned by eating moth plant instead.  Anyway, there is no way that anyone could be mistaken because the skin texture is different, the weight and if you are still not sure, once you cut open the choko and moth plant, you will noticed the moth plant have a milky sap.  If not sure which is which, please use a gloves to prevent the sap from irritating your skin.

If you are still not sure, click here to check out when a Choko is not a Choko, courtesy of Just like my Nan made.

Can you identify the difference?  Which is choko and which is moth plant?