Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kaya Jam

Kaya is a coconut jam make from coconut milk, duck or chicken eggs which are flavored by pandan leaf and sweetened with sugar. The spread originated in Southeast Asia, most likely Indonesia or Malaysia. This is reflected by its tropical ingredients santan (coconut milk) and pandan leaf. Kaya is sweet and creamy. The original color reflects the color of the yolks used in the making. It is sometimes available as a golden brown or green colored spread depending on the amount of pandan and extent of caramelization of the sugar. As a popular local jam, kaya is typically spread on toast to make kaya toast and eaten in the morning but is mostly enjoyed throughout the day.

Kaya is used as a topping for several desserts including pulut taitai or pulut tekan, a dessert of sweet glutinous rice coloured blue with butterfly pea flowers (bunga telang), and pulut seri muka, a similar dessert but coloured green with pandan leaves. It is also used with glutinous rice to make kuih seri kaya.

Qu Yuan 屈原

Qu Yuan 屈原 was a member of the royal family of the kingdom of Chu in the time of Warring State. He was also the designated priest for the royal family. He wrote many beautiful poems that still existed till this day. His poems kept many valuable historical information: the mythologies, religious belief, part of funeral ritual of calling back the spirit of the dead, the type of food they eat, etc. He could have kept his position in court, but he could not stand to see the king of Chu being cheated by Qin's sweet words. He kept trying to advise the king not to believe Qin, but the king of Chu did not listen to him. His first Chu king was eventually kidnapped by Qin and died in Qin, and his second king did not listen still. He was exiled. When he was in exile, he met a fisherman. The fisherman asked him, "Aren't you the Dafu of San Lu (administrator of 3 royal clans)? Why are you here (in exile)?" He said, "The world are dirty and I am clean. The world are drunk and I am awake. Therefore, here I am." The fisherman said, "The men with De would not be limited by their environment. If the world is dirty, why don't you float with the dirt? If the world is drunk, why don't you drink with them? Why do you want to think too much and get exiled?" Qu Yuan said, "I have heard that a man who has just washed his hair would clean the dirt from his hat before wearing it, and a man who has just bathed would clean the dirt of his clothes before putting it on. How can I corrupt my clean self with dirt? I would rather jump into the river. How can I cover my pure reputation with the dirt of the world?" The fisherman smiled, turned around and sang, "Canglang river's water is pure, and it could wash the belt on my hat. Canglang river's water is dirty, and it could wash my dirty feet." Afterward, the fisherman left without saying one more word. Eventually, Qu Yuan killed himself by jumping into MiLuo river.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

How to get in to Sibu?

By Plane
Most visitors arrive Sibu by plane, if you travel directly from oveseas. If you are coming from other city in Sarawak, then you will have the choice of buses.

There is direct flight from KL or JB to Sibu. Malaysian Airlines and Air Asia are the one that you look for. MASWings serves flights between cities and rural areas in East Malaysia, including Sarawak and Sabah.

Travel to Sibu Town
Bus 3A runs to and from town every 1½ hours from 6.30am to 6pm (RM2.50, about 30 minutes). You could also try flagging down any rural bus that passes by. The coupon taxi fare into town is RM28.
The local bus station is on the waterfront. To get to the long-distance bus station, take Lanang Road bus 21 (90 sen) from the local bus station. It leaves roughly hourly between 6.30am and 5.30pm. A taxi costs RM10.

**Resource from LonelyPlanet

By Land

Sarawak has land borders with Brunei, Indonesia and the Malaysian state of Sabah. If you have own transport, you may drive all the way to Sibu

By Bus
This is the most common transport if you are travelling between cities in Sarawak. The travelling times can be long because of the distance.

By Boat
Express boats run from the coast inland along Borneo's larger rivers. They are generally faster than buses and cheaper than planes. Popular routes include Kuching-Sibu (4 hours) and Sibu-Kapit (3 hours). You may read more on Sarawak Transport on Lonely Planet website. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/malaysia/malaysian-borneo-sarawak/sibu/transport/getting-there-away

Sarawak Visa Requirement

Alone among Malaysia's states, Sarawak maintains an autonomy on immigration control, mostly so mainlanders cannot freely immigrate and swamp the thinly populated state. Even if coming in from elsewhere in Malaysia, Malaysians need to bring along their ID and are restricted to a stay of 90 days at a time. Other foreigners need to fill out a second immigration form.

Still, for most travellers this is just a formality and an interesting extra stamp in their passport, as anybody who does not need a visa for Malaysia can get a free 90-day visit permit on arrival. If you do need an advance visa for Malaysia, you'll need one specifically for Sarawak, so be sure to state this when applying at the Malaysian embassy.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Foochow Redwine Chicken Noodles(红酒鸡长寿面线)

You must be very curious, why the title write Red Wine but the picture above show no red at all. This is because there is one ingredient missing, the Hong Zhao.
It is red wine sediment/residue of wine. That is the ingredient that make the dish become red.
I used to cook without Hong Zhao, however would like to try the version of Hong Zhao next time.
This unique blend of red wine is a tradition among Foochow people. In the olden days, family of a pregnant woman will start brew red wine months prior to give birth to a new child.
The ingredients consist of rice, yeast and varieties of herbs. The red wine thus brewed is dense, and is kept in bottles stored in a dry and warm place.
RED WINE is a vital ingredient to longevity noodles/rice vermicelli (chang shou mian)and pre-cooked chicken which is served to friends and relatives who pay congratultory visit to the family with new born baby. Longevity noodles widely used as it symbolize long live.
RED WINE is also consumed by the woman who give birth to the baby in the believe that it will help her to recover health in shorter period of time.
Nowadays RED WINE is commonly used as ingredients for some cooking in many traditional Foochow restaurants.
Besides RED WINE CHICKEN, Sibu is well known for Hong Zhao CHICKEN. 'Zhao' is the residue of wine.

Here are some simple steps to prepare my favourite dish.

Half chicken (kampung chicken is the best)
1 cup of foochow red wine
1 tbsp of foochow Hong Zhao (red wine sediment)
Few pieces of ginger-julienned
3 tbsp of sesame oil
salt to taste
1/2 tbsp of sugar (to replace Ajinamoto)
1 litre of water
3 bunches of longevity noodle
Few pieces of dried mushrooms

1. Cut the chicken into bite size. Marinate it with the ang zhao, leave it for 30 minutes or so.
2. Soak the dried mushrooms in water and leave for 30 minutes.
3. In a wok, heat up the sesame oil, once the wok heated up, add in the ginger and stir fry till fragance.
4. Then add in the chicken and stir fry continuosly till yellowish. Add in the foochow red wine and stir fry again. Add in the salt and sugar and continue to stir fry for a minute or so.
5. Pour in the water & soaked mushrooms and close with a lid. Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes till cook.
6. While the dish is simmering, prepare a pot and boil some water to cook the longevity noodle. When it is boiling, add in the noodle and let it cook on high heat. Remember to constantly stir the noodle so that it doesn't stick together.
7. Once the noodle is cook(it will float), then drain it. In a bowl, place the noodle and laddle some red wine chicken and soup onto it.
8. Serve while it's still piping hot. (Please don't let the noodles soaked in the soup for too long as it will affect the tasture)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sago Worm

Sago worm is an authentic local dish for the native people in Sibu. Normally we use deep fried style for this special worm. It is very crispy, just like the fried crackers(I never try but my family said delicious!!). It contains lot of nutrition.

You can get it at Central Market easily with RM10 per basket.(Price as at Year 2008)

Pucuk Manis马尼菜

Pucuk Manis (we used to called it as 马尼菜/九指菜), a very common vegetables you can find in Sibu and almost all the restaurant will serve this vegetable. You normally will find the dry version in most of the restaurant. It is the famous and common dish in Sibu. Must try! Picture above taken from my mum's farm so it is actually quite easy to plant.

Pucuk Manis fried with egg said to be good for eyes. There have a few method of cooking, my house we make it either dry dish or cook with soup but both also fried with eggs. I like both!!

Hot Plate Char Kway Teow Tomato(Wet)

Char Kway Teow, literally "stir-fried ricecake strips", is a popular noodle dish in Malaysia. Normally if you order Wet Char Kway Teow, you get the non-tomato version.

Why I put it as "(Wet)"? In Malaysia, the stir-fried noodles normally cooked in 3 ways - Wet, Dry or Soup version.

  • Wet - As seen in the picture above, it has thick gravy(not the soup version). Normally at other place, it is non-tomato version, but Sibu has it unique one. It sometime served in hot plate.
  • Dry - No gravy for this kind of cooking, noodles will be fried with egg, bean sprouts sliced meat or fish cakes.
  • Soup - This is cooked with lot of water and normally looks brown for the soup.

I personally dun like any chinese stir-fried noodles with tomato in it, however, I found this wet version Char Kway Teow Tomato is quite good. If you never try it, do go for it!

Rice Dumpling(Ba Zhang or Zongzi)

Zongzi, a pyramid-shaped mass of glutinous rice wrapped in leaves, is eaten by people at Duanwu Festival(Dragon Boat Festival), May 5th in Chinese lunar calendar each year. The origins of rice dumplings are traced to the legend of Qu Yuan, a well-loved poet who drowned himself in a river. To stop the fish from eating his body, people made rice dumplings and threw them into the river. Another version of the legend states that the dumplings were made to placate a dragon that lived in the river.

Zongzi originally is called Bamboo Tube Zong the fillings wrapped into a bamboo tube. Later, it gradually develops with various shapes, like triangle-shape, pagoda-shape, and cudgel-shape, ect. And more and more materials can be made of fillings, providing all kinds of flavor. At present, Zongzi is not only a kind of traditional food at Duanwu Festival, but also become a common food in daily for its delicate taste.

Dumpling Type:
Generally, Zongzi can be divided into 4 types: Beiping Zongzi, tasted sweet; Guangdong Zongzi, used all kinds of materials and cost the longest time in making among the four; Taiwan Zongzi, mainly made by meat; and Huzhou Zongzi, having two flavors of sweet and salty

The dumplings need to be steamed or boiled for several hours and one superstition says that dumplings will never cook if a pregnant woman enters the kitchen whilst they are being steamed. Dumplings may also be frozen for later consumption, but must be boiled instead of steamed when stored in this fashion.

The Zongzi that you find in Sibu is mixture of everything. The common one will be the meat dumpling which show in the 2nd picture above. It usually make with pork, sausages, Chinese mushrooms, salted egg, and chestnuts. Other filling like peanut is quite common. This is the salty version.

Sweet version you can get the filling with red beans paste or mashed yellow beans.

Some types of zongzi contain no filling at all, in which case they are usually eaten with sugar or kaya(coconut egg jam).

Sarawak laksa

Sarawak laksa (Malay: Laksa Sarawak) comes from the Malaysian state Sarawak, on the island of Borneo. It is actually very different from the curry laksa find at other place as the soup contains no curry at all. It has a base of Sambal belacan, sour tamarind, garlic, galangal, lemon grass and coconut milk, topped with omelette strips, chicken strips, prawns, fresh coriander and optionally lime. Ingredients such as bean sprouts, (sliced) fried tofu or other seafood are not traditional but are sometimes added.

Personally I like Sarawak Laksa quite a lot because of the unique taste and they have less coconut milk. You can find it in most of the coffeeshop in Sibu.

You can find the list of restaurant in Sibu HERE.


"Gom bian" (光饼) (or Kompia)- a Foochow delicacy made with flour, baked in an oven and with sesame on top.It can be eaten either with or without filling. The one kosong(means empty) is the traditional, the rest with filling are the improved version. You can see market selling the one fill with meat and a special gravy.

There are 2 types of kompia, one is the one I introduced just now which tasted salty, another is called ZhenDong which tasted sweet, it is softer and fluffy. Both types are advised to eat while hot else it will become harder, so normally we will try to re-heat it and it will taste better.



Bek Ding Yuok(八珍药)

"Bek Ding Yuok" (八珍药 in Chinese)(or pek ting ngor): The soup of eight essences - nice, sweet, tasty and nutritious Chinese soup made of at least eight types of Chinese herbal materials. It is good for health especially helping in recovering from lost of blood.


This type of herb soup seems not very common at other places, they said it should be good for ladies. Like my friend in West Malaysia, they said guys never drink this. However, in Sibu, I think generally all people despite the gender will drink the soup.

It is basically a black soup, which usually have 2 tastes, sweet and bitter version. I personally like the sweet version and that is the only sweet soup(not dessert) that I drink.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dian Mian Hu(鼎边糊)

"Duёng Mian Ngu"(鼎边糊) (Dian Mian Hu)- a savoury soup with soft rice cake is available at several stalls as a hefty breakfast or a late night supper. It is often served with fish balls and squid. This is traditional foochow dishes also. It can be eaten any time, from breakfast to dinner. It normally sale at RM3 for normal one and RM4 if you added special ingredient like meat or fish ball.


Where you can find this?
They have curry Dian Mian Hu and curry pan mee also.

Bian Nyuk(扁肉)

"Bian Nyuk"(扁肉, also called wonton, 雲吞) - a meat dumpling which can be served dry or in a soup. The way of making is almost the same. It is easy to make and you can make it at home too. Same as kampua, BianNyuk also can have different flavour, the ooriginal white, dark(with soy sauce) and red(with chili sauce). My another favourite dish, whenever get back home, sure want to try this.


"Kam Pua" noodle (干盘面) (kampua) - noodles tossed in pork lard or vegetable oil, fried shallots, spring onions and sometimes soy sauce and/or chili sauce. It is available at almost all coffee shops and food stalls.

You can tell from the colour of kampua what it is actually added. Original kampua is always white like the picture above, black kampua is added with soy sauce(you can request to add chili sauce) and red kampua is added with chili sauce. I prefer the original one, simple and so nice.

There are 3 types of noodles, made with the same ingredient but texture different. The 1st picture show the flat noodles, the 2nd picture is the curly version and the original, the 3rd picture is the round straight version. I personally prefer the curly noodles over the other 2.

Kampua can be served in soup too. By default if you order kampua, it always come with dry version. If you are tired about the dry one, try the soup one, it tasted good.

Midin or Milian 美林蕨

Tender midin or milian, one of the famous vegetable in Sarawak. Some people call it Paku but locally we call it milian or bilian depends on the dialect. It is kind of wild fern and it cannot last long. Once it is picked freshly, best to consume within 3 days, else it will turn black like the vegetables got poison. I used know that this vegetables found only in Sarawak but I did tried before at Port Dickson, looks alike and texture also alike. My friends said their hometown and Cameron Highland also have but I am not sure if they are referring to the same vegetables. So I thought Midin/Milian or Paku is the same vegetables until I saw this article.

In Sibu, you can ask the cook(or you can cook at home) to stir fried it with Foochow Red wine, balacan, soya sauce etc, at your own preferences. The recent way that Sibu people like is to cook it in Thai style. This is one of my favorite vegetables.

The picture on right cooked with balacan and the one on left is the Thai style.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sibu Night Market 诗巫夜市场

The Pasar Malam (Night Market) is situated in the town centre. Local traders will usually set up their mobile stalls at around 7 pm-11 pm. Items on display are general Malay and Chinese delicacies, clothing, daily necessities, handicrafts and others.

The vibrant Night Market sets up every afternoon around 5pm and operates until 10pm or sometimes later. The stalls offer all manners of household goods, footwear, fashion items, and all varieties of food.

It is not a big market but worth for a visit. It is also a good place to grab your dinner, snacks & bites here.

Here are something to share from the night market.

The roasted area with all the roasted pork and duck. I never try before but you will see at least one stall selling all this food.

Below show the dim sum that we can find in night market. This type of dim sum not like the Hong Kong Dim Sum that we have. This is foochow dim sum.

The white dim sum in the middle is siew mai which is made by pork of chicken. The orange one behind it, is like a sandwiches without vegetable, it will normally fried first, then steam so when you buy, it is still hot. The brown item in front is the steam gong pia with meat. Whar is Kompia? You may refer HERE for detailed description.

More food items can be view HERE.

Sibu Central Market 诗巫中央市场

The Central Market is the biggest indoor market in Malaysia. It is home to thousands of stalls selling everything from fresh vegetables and fruits to live poultry. You can get almost everything you need here.

I always like to walk around this market to check out if there are special items found.

Location: Jln Channel opposite the Express Boat Passenger Terminal

This is traditional Foochow Wedding Cake(Leh Pian *in Foochow Diaclet*). In the old time, when the daughter married, the parent will distribute this cake as gift to relative and friends. My favourite traditional cake, although it is slightly sweet for some of the people.

The traditional ingredients comes with addition of pork lark and buah kundur (or winter melon). However, due to healthy reason of whatever, pork lark is used less.

This way of wrapping I think is unique to my home place.  Each chicken(duck is treated the same) is neatly wrapped in some newspaper and tied by nylon string. I grow up with this environment, so I thought all the market's live chickens and ducks are selling in the way as in the picture below. However, I only know about it recently when a friend of mine from West Malaysia came and visited my hometown. (All the while I thought other places also sell like this) He told me about the funny way we sell the birds and I only found none of the other places are selling it in this way. Quite interesting right!

Another type of oranges that you can see very commonly in Sibu. Basically Sibu people love this too.

Local fruit, Ka Lang(Olive 橄榄) that is very common in Sibu. You always can taste before you buy, there normally have a cup with cooked Ka Lang for you to try out.

Level 2 is the eatery stall and also lot of boutique shop, selling clothes and some household stuff. Level 3 is the car park and the highest level is the badminton court. 

Civic Centre Museum

The Civic Centre Museum (its official name is Dewan Kebudayaan dan Warisan meaning Cultural & Heritage Hall in English) has a rich collection of ceramics and cultural exhibits depicting the various races such as the Orang Ulus, the lbans, the Melanaus, Malays and the Chinese. There's also a replica of an Iban longhouse that offers visitors a "feel" of a real longhouse complete with human skulls that were collector's items during the head-hunting days of Sarawak's past.

Opening Hours: 3:00pm-8:00pm (Tuesday-Saturday), 9:00am-12:00pm and 2:00pm-8:00pm (Sunday)
Admision: Free
Address: Jln Suarah
Services: Guided tour (by appointment).
Distance form city center: The Civic Centre is situated 2.5 km from the town centre on Tun Abang Haji Openg Road. To get here, take Sungei Merah bus 1A or 4 (90 sen) from the local bus station on the waterfront; the museum is down the side street by a petrol station.

Eng Ann Tua Pek Kong Temple永安厅大伯公庙

The history of the Eng Ann Tua Pek Kong temple dates back to early 1870. In the 1871 Sarawak Gazette, it was recorded that there was a small wooden Chinese temple in Sibu and that was the Tua Peh Kong Temple. It is is an icon of the town with its 7-storey pagoda.

The temple and it's recognizable pagoda is a symbol of the sovereign and kindness of the deity for the worshipper and a prime tourist attraction for the town. It is located at Jalan Temple at the Sibu Water front next to the Rejang Port Authority.

During Chinese calendar, 1st & 15th of the month, you will see the crowd in the temple. People come here to praise and make wishes to hope for better life, wishes for family and friends. Whenever there are some celebration events like the Chinese New year, Tua Pek Kong's birthday etc, you can see the decoration or stage with show. For some historic pictures and night scene, you may visit HERE.

Eng Ann Tua Pek Kong Temple永安厅大伯公庙
Address: Temple Street, 96000 Sibu, Sarawak, Malaysia.
Tel: 6084-312005.

There is a 100 years old Rain Tree(Pokok Kayu Hujan) just right in front of the temple. People here tried hard to maintain this old tree and is a symbol of the long life here.


Sibu is an inland town, and the capital of Sibu District (229.8 square kilometres) in Sibu Division, Sarawak, east Malaysia. It is located at the confluence of the Rajang and Igan Rivers, some 60 kilometres from the ocean.

Sibu is one of the most bustling towns to be found in East Malaysia. Originally, Sibu was called "New Foochow". The population is dominated by Chinese especially the Fuzhou as well as indigenous Melanau, Malay, and Iban.

In the early 20th century, the immigrants that came from Fujian, China’s province, first settled in Sibu. This was done after an invitation from Rajah Charles Brooke. At that time, there were many ethnic groups who emigrated from China at that time. These immigrants included Heng Hua, Hokkien and many others. They have contributed a lot to a positive change in Sibu as they put a lot of effort into making a Sibu a greater place. The new settlement was located next to Melanau village that was first established in the 1850’s.

The Rajang River was becoming bustling with economic activity and this meant that Sibu had a very important role in the Brook administration that was a trading center between the vast upriver hinterland and the coast. This important role of the town is held even now.

Why I Start the Blog?

Sibu is not a famous tourist spot but still is the lovely city, my beloved home. If you are visiting Sarawak, do make this lovely place one of your destination on your travel plan.

I recently joined some online community. It is a great place to meet the world and local traveler. This inspire me to write a blog to show my guests, friends, colleague and who ever visited Sibu on how lovely is my home and hopefully more people will have the initiative to visit this lovely place, to get to know our culture.