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The tasty ttupak pulok

The tasty ttupak pulok

The other day mum asked if I want to eat rendang… Rendang reminds me of ttupak pulok and no ttupak pulok  tastes as good as the ones from Kuala Terengganu. Ttupak pulok is a type of glutinous rice delicacy, steamed with coconut milk and wrapped in a special leaf before it is fried to perfection.

I’ve tried the ones sold in KL but none can match the tasty ttupak pulok of Kuala Terengganu. As I always wrote in my blog, the Terengganu folks love to eat fish and we eat fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Well, we do not use fish to make ttupak pulok but we eat ttupak pulok with grilled fish. Ttupak pulok is also tasty when eaten with rending ( a spicy beef / chicken dish) or samba ayang or daging/serunding in standardspeak (chicken or beef floss – another meat recipe). In fact ‘ttupak pulok’ is even tasty on its own especially when eaten fresh from the wok.

To make ‘ttupak pulok’ we first steam the rice. Half way through, add the thick coconut milk and salt. Next, continue steaming the rice until cooked. Then comes the tricky part – to wrap the steamed glutinous rice in special leaves. Too bad I do not master the art of wrapping the ttupak pulok neither did mum nor nenek. If the wrapping process is not done properly, the ttupak will be too soft and maybe too oily after it is fried. The final step is the easiest – fry the wrapped ttupak in hot oil and the ttupak is ready to be served with grilled fish, rendang or ‘samba daging’. How I wish that I can have them… But it always took me much longer than mum to unwrap the ttupak! Not only do we need a lot of practise to enable us to wrap the ttupak pulok, but we also need to learn how to unwrap it before eating the tasty ttupak pulok. But once you try them….you won’t mind the hassle of unwrapping them.

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Dear visitors,

As you can see I have changed my header. My new header shows a landscape of the Batu Buruk Beach, a beautiful beach near my nenek’s house. The photo was taken in December during the monsoon season in the East Coast of West Malaysia. Each year the monsoon brings heavy rain, very strong wind and big waves as shown in photo. Anyway, because of the strong under current it is not advisable to swim at this beach.

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On Sunday, we had a very delicious ‘lakse kuoh masok’ (laksa kuah masak) for dinner at nenek’s place. ‘Lakse kuoh masok’ is a type of rice noodle (lakse) dish served with a spicy fish curry sauce (kuoh masok) and fresh raw vegetables called ‘ulang’ (ulam in standard speak). In Terengganu, we have two types of laksa dishes – ‘lakse kuoh masok’ (rice noodle in cooked fish curry sauce) and ‘lakse kuoh metoh’ (rice noodle in uncooked fish curry sauce. ‘Lakse kuoh masok’ is also known as ‘lakse kuoh meroh’ while ‘lakse kuoh metoh’ is also known as ‘lakse kuoh puteh’ due to the colours of their fish curry sauces.

The delicious ‘lakse kuoh masok’ that we enjoyed that evening was specially brought by Pak Cik Hisham who works in nenek’s bookstore, Alam Akademik in Kuala Terengganu. The ‘kuoh’ (fish curry sauce) was cooked by Pak Cik Hisham’s mother. She must be a very good cook for the ‘kuoh’ is very tasty. According to nenek, it is not easy to prepare a very tasty ‘kuoh masok’ for in cooking Terengganu traditional dishes, the amount of ingredients used for a recipe is just ‘agok-agok’ or about ‘a certain amount’- so one needs a lot of practice to master the recipe.

Even the laksa (rice noodle) is brought from Terengganu. In KL, mum uses the dried laksa because the kind of fresh laksa sold in KL tastes very differently from the ones sold in Terengganu. Of course the fresh laksa or ‘lakse kebok’ is much tastier than the dried laksa especially the one that Pak Cik Hisham brought to KL. Nenek said that Pak Cik Hisham’s ‘lakse’ was of high quality and stayed soft and fresh even after two days outside the refrigerator.

Preparing a traditional ‘lakse kuoh masok’ is rather tedious especially when the types of fish suitable for the fish curry sauce are quite bony. First we have to boil the fish and debone them. The process is tricky as we have to look out for fine fish bones. Then mash the fish using a mortar and pestle until smooth. Cook the fish in coconut milk together with shrimp paste, chili paste, asam, shallots, garlic, ginger and other spices and herbs on slow fire for at least four hours for a tasty ‘kuoh masok’.

For the vegetables, traditionally we use brinjals, cucumbers, bean sprouts, fresh basil leaves, cashew shoots, long beans and kesomleaves or polygonum. Slice (very fine) all the vegetables except brinjals and cucumbers that should be cut into fine cubes. Anyway for the modern version of ‘lakse kuoh masok’, any ulam (salad) such as pegaga, ulam raja, etc can be used instead of the vegetables mentioned above but the basil and kesom (polygonum) leaves are a must. If using the dried laksa, boil the laksa until soft, then rinse them in cold water. Please do not use the KL version of fresh laksa for it does not taste like the Terengganu ‘lakse at all. Serve the ‘lakse’ (lakse kebok’ if possible) with ‘kuoh‘, vegetables, slices of hard boiled eggs, lime and some shrimp paste and chili paste for an extra delicious ‘lakse kuoh masok‘. ‘Pok Cik Shang‘, thank you very much for the delicious lakse – we really enjoyed the ‘akok’ and egg tarts too.’Sedak sunggoh kuoh lakse mok Pok Cik Shang. Rase macang nok lagi je’.

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In Trengganuspeak we have two different words to describe the different manners of dipping. If a person dip just a small portion of (for example) a banana (pisang) in honey (madu); in Trengganuspeak we name the dipping process as ‘cicoh’. So we’ll say ‘pisang cicoh madu‘. But if a person dip the whole banana in honey; the dipping process is no more cicoh but celok. Hence we now say ‘pisang celok madu‘.

Trengganufolks like to ‘cicoh‘ (dip) their crackers, cookies, certain types of bread and cakes in their drinks. The most preferred drinks for dipping are coffee, tea and ‘Milo’. I’m not so sure if fresh fruit juice and fizzy drinks are also used for dippings. Anyway my siblings and I love to cicoh our cookies and crackers in ‘Milo‘. ‘Biskuk jagung’ (cream cracker) also known as ‘biskuk pak ssegi’ (according to mum) is usually eaten dipped in drinks – in our case, we dip the crackers in ‘Milo‘. Other cookies such as ‘Tiger Biskuat‘, ‘Tiger Susu’ and ‘Biskuk Marie’ are also tasty for cicoh ‘Milo’. During the Eid celebrations I often saw people cicoh their ‘biskuk raya’ (cookies baked for Eid) in their drinks back in Kuala Terengganu; but I prefer to eat my Eid cookies just the way they were.

One should try ‘buoh ulu cicoh Milo‘. ‘Buoh ulu’ or bahulu is a Malaysian sweet cake made from eggs, flour and sugar. They can be soft or crisp depending on how long they were baked. ‘Buoh ulu’ is actually tasty on its own but when dipped in ‘Milo’ -mmm… it surely tastes a lot better. The creamy and chocolaty taste of ‘Milo’ really enhanced the lovely taste of ‘buoh ulu‘. The ‘buoh ulu’ will then be very soft and just melt in my mouth. Sometimes I over ‘cicoh’ (over dip) the ‘buoh ulu’ until parts of my ‘buoh ulu’ sink to the bottom of my ‘Milo‘. I would then use a spoon to dig out my delicious ‘buoh ulu‘. Anyway not all type of cakes would be tasty when dip in drinks. I haven’t heard of anyone who dip their cheese cake or ‘nganang’ (a traditional Trengganu sweet cakes) in their drinks… but who knows?

Nenek (my grandmother) and dad loves to ‘cicoh’ their ‘roti kerah Kemamang’ (a special hard, dry and crispy bread from a district in Terengganu named Kemaman) in ‘kawe’ (black coffee). Another of nenek’s favourite is ‘kayu khammak’(a type of local Terengganu fried bread) cicoh tey o’ (plain tea). I do not like ‘kayu khammak cicoh air’ (drinks) for the drink will then become oily and I do not fancy drinking oily drinks. Oh yes; we drink the leftover drink used for dipping.

One should be creative in thinking of what to ‘cicoh’ in their drinks and of the type of drinks to choose as ‘nnyiccoh’ (a drink to cicoh in). Anyway don’t ever ‘cicoh’ your ‘ikang panggang’ (grilled fish) in your ‘kawe ‘(black coffee) or any other drink for it will then taste ‘anye’. Normally we ‘cicoh’ sweet or rather plain tasted food (eg: white bread) in our drinks but I know a few people who love the taste of ‘khepok kkeping’ (fish cracker) and ‘pulok lepa (please refer to Delicious Pulok) cicoh kawe‘; and I don’t mind to give that a try, I guess…

I perfectly understand the difference between ‘cicoh’ and ‘celok’ but when dad said ‘kicoh‘, I was puzzled. Fortunately mum was around and explained the meaning of ‘kicoh‘. So, if you plan to try dipping your ‘bouh ulu’ in your drink; please remember to ‘cicoh selo-selo’ (dip slowly) for if you over ‘cicoh’ it will be no more ‘cicoh’ but ‘celok‘ (dunk) and if that happens your ‘buoh ulu’ will sink to the bottom of your drink. But it is alright because you can still scoop the ‘buoh ulu’ with a spoon and eat it. However, never ever ‘kicoh’ (rinse) your ‘buoh ulu’ in your drink for it will break to tiny pieces and become too messy to be eaten.

Note: The ‘c’s in cicoh and celok are pronounced as the pronunciation of ‘ch’ in English. The act of ‘makang cicoh air’ (dipping food in drinks) should not be done in fancy restaurants or while eating in another people’s house. Infact it should not be done even in our house, if we have guests around. Anyway one can enjoy their food ‘cicoh air’ in food stalls, ordinary restaurants, very close relatives’ and friends’ houses (in Trengganu). Remember to ‘irup sapa abih’ (finish up) your drink after you are done dipping.

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Last Thursday Atuk (my grandfather; please refer to ‘a letter to Atuk‘) was discharged from Ampang Putri Specialist Hospital (APSH) after been warded for 6 days. Alhamdulillah; he is much healthier than he was in this past 3 months.

Now Atuk is able to eat normally and does not need his feeding tube anymore! And Nenek (my grandmother) ended up with cans of milk powder (for tube feeding) that she stocked up for Atuk! Nenek used to worry if atuk could not eat normally for the rest of his life. And what makes up happier is, he eats very, very well. Atuk loves spaghetti and that was the first thing that he asked for when that doctors said that he could eat. When mum cooked him spaghetti he really enjoyed it.

My Atuk is much stronger and happier now. The other day Atuk got out from his bed and told us that he wanted to jog. My auntie said no because he is still weak. Atuk nodded and smiled – I can sense that he is up to something. Atuk walked slowly and then went faster and ended up jogging. When my aunty tried to stop him, he started jumping! Then he gave us a big smile and walked back to his hospital bed to rest.

I’m so glad to see my ‘old Atuk‘ is back again. I prayed for this moment and Alhamdulillah Allah had answered my prayers. My Atuk is back! He even joked and teased us once again as he used to… Dearest Atuk, WELCOME BACK!!!

Note: Today mum cooked Atuk fettuccine and I’m sure that Atuk will enjoy them- Bon Appetit, Atuk!

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Last weekend, my family and I attended a wedding celebration and we were given some tokens in form of ‘bunga telur’ (‘bunga’ means flower and ‘telur’ means egg) by our host. Bunga telur is actually hard boiled egg decorated with plastic/ paper/ crystal flowers or decorated in boxes (or in container) made of paper, ceremic and even crystal.

Mum told me that in the old days (in Terengganu) the eggs for ‘bunga telur’ would be painted red using red food colouring. But mum has no idea of why the eggs were painted red and not other colour. It would made more sense if that (colouring the eggs red) were practiced by the Chinese since they believe that red brings them good luck. Anyway I do not have the chance to see ‘telur merah’ or red coloured eggs.

Now I’m wondering why did eggs were used as a wedding token in Malay tradition. However, nowadys sweets, candies, chocolates, cupcakes and others are sometimes used instead of eggs. But somehow eggs are still widely used and we would end up with lots of hard boiled eggs during the wedding season.

In Malaysia the Malays use hard boiled eggs to garnish their dishes such as fried noodle, salad, various kinds of ‘laksa’ and much more. Hard boiled egg is also used for egg curry, egg sambal, egg sandwiches and even in a special rice dish called nasi telur (nasi means rice and telur means egg).

It is interesting to note that certain people belief that eating raw eggs mixed with honey will make them healthier. Raw eggs are also used in other drinks such as mixed them with fresh milk or carrot juice.

So special are the eggs that in the old days (I heard this tale from my grandmother) they even find the use for rotten eggs. Rotten eggs or ‘telur tembelang’ in Trengganuspeak are used to show hatred and were thrown at an enemy or their house. What a bad attitude. Alhamdulillah such incidence does not happen anymore (or at least I hope so!)

*Note: I would like to thank my mum for the informations.

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Yesterday evening dad took home some “karipap” and “Seri Muka”. They were very, very delicious – it should be cos they were from Pak Cik Suhaimi (Uncle Suhaimi). Thank you, Pak Cik Suhaimi – we really miss your cooking.

Pak Cik Suhaimi is a very good cook. Among my favourites are his Laksa Johor, Roti Jala and of course his Sambal Tempoyak. Unfortunately Pak Cik Suhaimi only sells his Sambal Tempoyak during Ramadhan. He used various kind of herb (finely sliced) mixed with ‘tempoyak’ (fermented durian), cili padi, ikan bilis (Malaysian anchovies) and other secret ingredients!

Well, in Terengganu we have ‘Tok Aji Serbang’ which is quite similar to ‘Seri Muka’! Of course my family would prefer the ‘Tok Aji Serbang’ but Pak Cik Suhaimi’s ‘Seri Muka’ was good. Mum says that in Terengganu they use lots of eggs in their kuih (sweet cakes) – for example akok nganang (I’m not so sure what it is), jala mas, and much, much more.

Maybe the people of Terengganu loves using eggs in their kuih so much that my grandmother would crack an egg to mix with blede bodo (agar agar or a Malaysian jelly), pengat and sira pisang! And they taste very very good. My grandfather even love to have slices of hard boiled egg in his karipap’s filling.

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