How To Make Pempek

Almost 3 months ago, I was in Indonesia.

Palembang was my first port of call before I went on to Jogjakarta.

Part of what I love about travelling is learning about the culture of a place. Indonesia is rich with that!

For Palembang, specifically, one such item is the food!

Now, “Pempek” (or “empek-empek”) is a savoury fishcake delicacy from Palembang, made of fish and tapioca.

Fortunately, I was able to learn how to make authentic Palembang Pempek while I was there!

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The basic ingredients are pretty simple – fishmeat, water, monosodium glutamate/MSG and salt.

But I’d rather show you how to make it rather than type it all out so, here is my video recording of some aunties from St Stefanus, Palembang, teaching us how to make authentic Palembang pempek!

(Don’t worry, all the important stuff are subtitled in all my videos – remember to click the “CC” button to activate subtitles!)

Pempek is served with rich sweet and sour sauce called kuah cuka or kuah cuko or just “cuko”. And this is how to make cuko:

The above is the basic Palembang Pempek. For other variants, you can check my other videos below as well:

Pempek kulit/Fish-Skin Pempek:

Pempek kapal selam/Submarine Pempek
Pempek telur kecil/Small Egg Pempek
Pempek pistel/Papaya pempek

Good luck! Let me know if you succeed and how it taste yeah!

Even better, let me try your creation too! =D

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What happens when you do not eat rice?

At the beginning of this month, I decided to do the #31NoRiceDays challenge. This meant I had to NOT eat rice during those 31 days (ie. the whole month of October) – and I had to do it CONSCIOUSLY. Gulp!

Rice was a staple in the main meals everyday in my life so just the thought was quite unimagineable.

But you won’t know what you can do, or in this case, can do without, until you try it. And I am pleased to say that I DID IT!

So, what happens when you do not eat rice?

1. People look at you funny

When you decide to do something that is not “normal”, be sure that people will react. And the reactions vary widely:

Some will insist you eat “at least just a little” – though they mean well, you have to be firm and politely insist that you will not.

Some will tease/tempt you with it – again, you just have to be firm

Some will scoff/doubt that you can do it – more than ever, these should make you more determined

Some will encourage and support you – this is the best kind of reaction:

When I started the challenge, only 1 other person was doing it with me. At the end of the challenge, there are at least 6 of us altogether encouraging and supporting one another along the way. 1 of the them has even stated that he would go on to do the Atkins diet next! This would be a lot more challenging than not taking rice so I wish him the best of luck!

2. You learn something about your eating habits

I learned that eating on time or not being hungry was important. As it was during these “very-hungry” moments that I would be most susceptible to forget it and “fall-back” on what used to be the “norm”. There were a few occasions where I thought of having rice. There was once where I very nearly took some onto my plate! But fortunately, I remembered and I was able to consciously decide to eat something else. Thus I survived a month without a single grain.

I learned that not eating rice was relatively easy – in comparison to eating clean/eating healthy! I documented my eats using the #31NoRiceDays hashtag on instagram and there were a number of meals there I wasn’t so proud of. While I indicated up-front at the start of the challenge that it was NOT a low-carb diet, I did try to reduce the amount of carbs I took as well as processed foods. There are some days I succeed. There are some days I successfully failed.

I learned that vegetables and water are my bestfriends. It just became natural to eat more vegetables and drink more water when I did not take rice. Not quite sure why, but both are good stuff so at least that’s one eating habit that I’ve happily acquired in the process.

I learned that I can survive without rice.

3. It will change you

While I didn’t expect to have a bikini body by just not eating rice, I did hope to lose some weight in the process. And I am pleased to note that I did lose about 1.5kg and 1 inch off the belly. Nothing much to shout about but it’s still a change that I happily accept. Also, a slower weight loss is more healthier and sustainable compared to a sudden one – the latter means something is very wrong somewhere.

Coincidentally, I also went for a medical check-up towards the end of the challenge and written off with a clean bill of health plus an average BMI, so while there’s loads of room for improvement (like exercising!), I am healthy and that’s what is most important.

Apart from the physical changes, there is also a general sense of feeling more “lighter” and healthier. I don’t get as sleepy or tired after non-rice lunches compared to when I had rice for lunch. And there is just a positive feeling about life overall.

Thus,

As I approached the end of the #31NoRiceDays challenge, I kept asking myself: Will I go back to eating rice again or would I continue with the non-Rice path? Or will I go completely low-carb? Or will I only eat real food (no processed foods)?

I can conclusively say that I will continue to reduce the amount of carbs I take (including rice) as well as processed foods. And it will not be a one-month challenge; it will be a lifelong one.

Cheers to healthy eating!

#31NoRiceDays Challenge

It is the 1st of October.

The challenge begins today – and ends on 31st of October.

Self-explanatorily titled “#31NoRiceDays” the challenge is to NOT eat rice during these 31 days (ie. the whole month of October).

WHY? you ask…

Well, I have noticed that I personally can go without rice (unitentionally) for 2 to 3 days BUT by the end of that period, I start to feel weak and crave for rice. The explanation is simple. “Asians have 2 stomachs; 1 for rice and the other for ‘everything else'” – so for as long as you don’t have rice, you will always “feel hungry”.

One reason I am doing the #31NoRiceDays is to prove to myself that I CAN go without rice for a whole month.

My mom flipped when I told her what I intended to do. (BACKGROUND: We are a rice-eating family. We have rice everyday for lunch and dinner. Plus, Mom always insisted that only rice can truly “fill” us.) She immediately asked what then I would be eating instead of rice and she assumed it to be noodles. However, noodles are less healthier than rice (I heard) so that’s definitely not the plan.

So WHAT will I be eating?

I did some research online. Normally, when people give up rice, they also give up noodles, breads and grains, dairy and sugar etc. but I decided early on that #31NoRiceDays was NOT a low-carb diet. It simply is just 31 days without rice, thus, noodles, breads etc are still allowed. That said however, I want to stay as healthy as possible during this challenge, so I shall try my best to reduce their intake (especially noodles) and increase on the healthy stuff like fruits and vegetables.

WHO would be crazy enough to do this?

I am actually inspired by a dear friend of mine. She loves rice more than me. She even has it for breakfast! And a few years ago, she gave up rice for Lent! That is 40 days. More than a month. I told myself I could never survive….Time to prove myself wrong.

Lately, a few friends of Facebook have also given up rice and lost considerable amounts of weight DAILY. To good to be true it sounds. But that motivated me to try it myself.

Lastly, was chatting with some colleagues last month (over our heavy rice lunches) and it somehow came to me blurting: “Let’s not eat rice for a whole month!”….and the rest is history.

While it’s nice to know they are doing the challenge with me, the more the merrier right?

So, feel free to join me in the #31NoRiceDays Challenge, if you’re up for it.

And journey with me using the #31NoRiceDays hashtag on instagram as I will be posting pics of my non-Rice meals there.

P.S. I may update my blog occassionally during the challenge and definitely with the results when it is over. Stay tuned! 🙂

Dedicated To Sada Borneo (AGT19)

My dearest Sada Borneo,

You dedicated the Semi-Finals to us – to Malaysia and all who supported you from all over Asia.

The composition we brought tonight is called ‘Dedicated To You’. It was composed to express our gratitude to our families and friends who had always been there for us through thick and thin, without whom we would not be who we are today.

‘Dedicated To You’ was composed right after the self-titled piece that got us 4 YESes at the Asia’s Got Talent Judges’ Audition and the first time we performed it was during Malam Bumi Kenyalang 2014 (Sarawak Cultural Night 2014) in our university.

Touched by the amazing support we received through social media from everyone around the world during Asia’s Got Talent, what better way is there for us to thank each and everyone of you for your support and encouragement but through our language which is music. So truly, the Semi-Finals is dedicated to you.

‪#‎sadaborneo‬ ‪#‎asiasgottalent‬ ‪#‎keepourlegacy

– From Sada Borneo’s Facebook Page

Now I dedicate this post to you.

Nothing could have prepared you for the journey that awaited you when you decided to audition for Asia’s Got Talent (AGT).

Before the Judges’ Audition a month ago, most of Malaysia had not heard about you.

Sada Borneo @ Judges Audition (AGT)

Now, not only Malaysia but Asia and the whole world knows about you. More than that, they fell head over heels in love with you!

But did they love the REAL Sada Borneo or who they thought/wanted you to be?

David Foster, at the Judges’ Audition, already said he “didn’t like” the bass guitar and the acoustic guitar in the mix but he “loved loved loved” the traditional part of it.

Therein lies the “dilemma”…

From Sada Borneo’s website:

The unique thing about our band is that we are using traditional music instruments like sape, bungkau, kompang, seruling…. basically any instruments we can get, and then combining them with modern instruments like keyboard, bass and guitar, while infusing nature elements (rain, birds etc) to make music.

We are trying something new by combining modern western music and traditional Malaysian music. We hope that we can show the beauty of Malaysia through music.

Do you change who you are to be loved? Or do you remain true to yourselves?

Click here to watch Astro Awani’s interview with Sada Borneo before the Semi-Finals

Sada Borneo @ Semi-Finals (AGT)

David wanted you to be more “traditional” – but that is not the REAL Sada Borneo.

Van Ness said it perfectly: “You stayed true to who you are” and Anggun was inspired to do a World Music album by listening to your music!

From Sada Borneo’s website:

AIM

  • To show the beauty of Malaysia through music.

  • To attract the youth of Malaysia to appreciate Malaysian traditional music.

  • To expand Malaysian traditional music to international level

  • To perform in international music festivals such as the Rainforest Music Festival in Sarawak, Penang World Music festival in Penang etc.

The facts remain:

1. You were the only act from Malaysia that made it to the Semi-Finals – shortlisted along with 23 other acts from other countries out of the thousands that auditioned – you did show the beauty of Malaysia through your music

2. You have made youths all over Malaysia ask questions and yearn for answers about our traditional music

3. You brought Malaysian traditional music on the international stage through Asia’s Got Talent

4. “World Music” – the exact word Anggun used to describe your music. I am sure the Rainforest World Music Festival and the likes are just around the corner!

So here’s what I say and what I believe others like me feel: We support you for who you are. And to us, whether you go on to the Finals or not, you will always have our support.

Keep on making your kind of music. I am sure there is room for improvement and I look forward to seeing you become the great musicians you are, each and everyone of your 11 members and together as Sada Borneo!

So smile my Sada Boys. You only have one way to go from here – UP!

With love,

Mar

~~~

sb

VOTE FOR SADA BORNEO! (Voting ends on 4th May 2015.)

There are 3 ways to vote (visit http://asiasgottalent.tv/vote/ for full instructions)

Method 1 – via SMS(unlimited)

SMS “AGT19″ and send it to your country’s designated short code (For Malaysia, it’s 33200 – for others, click here:http://asiasgottalent.tv/vote/)

SMS charges apply.

Method 2 – via Facebook (one vote per user per episode)

Just go to this link and vote:

On computer: https://www.facebook.com/asiasgottalent/app_1598372720404428

On mobile: https://fbvotenow.asiasgottalent.tv/

Voting on Facebook is free for one vote per user per episode.

IMPORTANT: Each user is entitled to ONE VOTE ONLY (so vote wisely!)

Method 3 – via the official Asia’s Got Talent app(unlimited)

Just download the app (available on the App Store and Google Play) and start voting. You can purchase 1, 3, 25 or 100 votes at a click of a button. (WOW!) Read the Terms&Conditions for more information on purchasing votes and voting.

IMPORTANT: You can vote as many times as you want via SMS and the Asia’s Got Talent app but the producers reserve the right (at their sole discretion) to exclude any votes which they feel have been placed to unfairly manipulate the results.

Check out the Voting FAQ section if you have any other doubts: http://asiasgottalent.tv/vote/faq

Will Sada Borneo make it to the Finals and be that much closer to being the first Asia’s Got Talent winner??? ONLY YOU can make it happen!

So vote, vote, vote!

AGT19! Sada Borneo!

(Voting ends on 4th May 2015.)

The Cat Never Sleeps…

Continuing where I left of from the previous post

Thursday night was the final night I was in Kuching so went to meet up with none other than Sarawak Bloggers’ Cyril for dinner at Aroma Cafe. I think the last I saw him was 2 or 3 years ago – and who can resist a yummy Bidayuh cuisine! 😉 (I meant Aroma Cafe by the way, not him, although he is Bidayuh…LOL!)

Anyways, it was good that I was able to meet up with him on this trip.

Why?

‘Cos I was able to meet his friends as well!

See those 3 guys in between Cyril & Rodz? Well, Cyril apparently was joining this Contest organized by Era FM at that time and he brought them EVERYWHERE! =D

(L-R) Iza, Cyril & friends, Myself & Meilin

The Contest has closed since so Cyril, please do update if you win! 😉 Even if you didn’t, was honoured to have been “part of” it indirectly…hehehe…and I was just teasing about the yummy Bidayuh thing okay. =p

After dinner, the girls and I met up with another friend, Mel for karaoke session @ Kbox, The Spring (since we didn’t end up going the night before as we just hung around at the Waterfront with my Empowered family instead – which was equally fun. =D)

Apart from family, friends & food…another thing I miss about Kuching has got to be the fact that the Cat never sleeps! There’s always something (that doesn’t involve vices!) to do if you’re out in town, even if it’s till late night or early morning. This time, I stayed out till 1am the next morning…

Farewell Kuching…until next time, stay awesome! =D

Kuching: Another breed of cat

Kuching : The coolest cat in the city – ALWAYS dressed in season. 😉

I’ve always considered Kuching as my home – with good reasons!

From the moment I stepped off the plane Saturday afternoon, I’ve not had a single moment I did not love just being “home”!

My bro picked me up from the airport, took me home just to drop my luggage & we were off to Samarahan – boy has this old haunt of mine changed! – and soon after, to Sunset Mass at St. Joseph’s Cathedral. Empowered Music Ministry brilliantly served during mass (as they’ve always had), after which we headed to Pending Seafood Centre for dinner.

Hello Oh Jian (Oyster Omelette) – I’ve missed you!!!

On Sunday, went to lunch at Causeway with dear blogger friend Lola…

…before she dropped me off at St Peter’s College (SPC) to visit another old friend. Then, went for drinks at Siang-Siang (we’ve none of these open-air food courts in Brunei..) with ex-classmates back in my Uni days. =)

At 6pm, went “shark-hunting” etc with a “foster brother” of mine before heading to Bau where my “foster family” (whom I adopted when I studied in Kuching almost a decade ago) lives and a night of umai-making (with the shark meat) and BBQ fellowship ensued…felt like I never left!

Umai – or what I describe as “Malaysian Sushi” =p

Monday being a public holiday, my “foster sister” dropped me off at my bro’s and soon I was out again, this time for lunch at Rumah Hijau (first time there) with my Empowered family as most were unable to join the dinner the evening I arrived. Felt so blessed to be able to meet with them again.

The Nasi Ayam Penyet @ Rumah Hijau is really nice!!!

Monday was also the 15th day of Chinese New Year so went with my bro & his family (who are partially Chinese) for Chap Go Meh dinner. Guess where?? Pending Seafood Centre again! Hahaha…no complains. I love the food! =P

Curry Ambal – I’ve missed you too!!!

After dinner, my bro took us on a scenic route around Kuching…a couple of things have changed from the last time I was here last year…and a LOT has changed from the time I used to study in Kuching years before…

Tuesday was a rest-in day as everyone was back to work but come sunset, met up with 3 other ex-Unimates, this time for dinner at Hijau, BDC. Had a good time just catching up & collectively denying how many years we’ve gained since we left Uni. LOL!

And today was an errand-Wednesday (with Laksa f0r breakfast & Chicken Rice for lunch) just sorting out some things while I’m in town…and tonight it’s out again with friends – maybe going karaoke-ing or just chilling by the Kuching Waterfront

Kuching is indeed another breed of cat (look up the meaning of that here) and home is where the heart is. With Family, Friends & Food all here, what better reasons is there for me to NOT to call it home? ❤

That’s where it’s SO @

Friday marked an important date in the history of social media in the country. It was the first-ever Social Media Conference in Brunei!

Titled “Social Media: That’s Where It’s @”, the half-day conference took place at Radisson Hotel.

Remember how excited I was to attend? Well, I did! =)

Registration table where the awesome nametags were. Hehe!

And I brought a friend as well…

Enjoying our morning tea.

Inside the conference room.

There were about 80 delegates from the social media scene in Brunei and Sabah (and 1 from Sarawak, ie. yours truly) who attended the event.

This was my first social media conference so I honestly didn’t know quite what to expect but the moment it started I was having a field trip! =)

Welcome remarks by @emmagoodegg.

“The Backbone for Social Media” – presented by Mr Lim Ming Soon, Telbru.

It was a technical presentation on the infrastructure that supported the whole “online culture” and also some very interesting statistics, like:

18,000 users online in a day just in Brunei (population of 400K) and

The most visited site was Youtube…I would have thought it was Facebook, which was actually in 3rd rank.

Another thing that thoroughly impressed me was how unlike normal conferences, where people just sat, listen, took notes and asked questions, this conference was where most sat, eyes on their smart devices (laptops, phones etc), tweeted what struck them throughout the sessions and asked questions ONLINE!

All “notes” are kept virtually on Twitter where anyone can access them by looking up the hastag #socmedBN – cool stuff!

Questions were posted on PigeonholeLive, and once posted, others can vote on them and the higher voted questions get asked – even cooler!!!

Oddly enough, on this day when everyone had their fingers glued onto their keyboards/keypads/touchscreens, they weren’t being anti-social! In fact, it was pretty interactive as the questions posted and the number of votes were projected for all to see and not to mention, super fun when a highly voted question placed @ranoadidas in the hot seat! =p

@ranoadidas smiling his way out of answering the question in Session 1 : “Dude, Where’s My Traffic?” of how much he earned a month. LOL!

At one point, @BruneiTweet had to defend his love for skinny jeans! =p

And Dinoza of Breeze Magazine Sabah was at a lost for words when asked who was his “social media role model”.

The second session “Why Join The Twitter Conversation?” was also very interesting!

Especially since it was given by Dato Timothy Ong, Chairman of Asia Inc Forum and moderated by Awg Hj Mohd Rozan of bruneiresources.com.

Many many wonderful messages from this great public speaker. My personal faves: “If it matters to you, find the courage to do it!” and “Social media cannot replace human interaction.” Hear hear!

Even lunch was a great “social networking break”!

Pleasantly surprised to see another friend there as well =)

And the food was gorgeous!!!

Noodles in boxes!!!

Noodles never tasted so nice…

Then again, it may just be the novelty of eating noodles from a box! LOL.

The third and final session was “From Idea To Enterprise: What Does It Take?”, another open forum discussion, this time between Mr Keeran of MeSixty and Mr Simon, the Director of Mint and moderated by Mr Tom of Rapidea Solutions Sabah.

Unfortunately there wasn’t much time for this session as it was the end of the conference soon enough. =(

Overall, it was a great event. Good job to the Organizers!

Andrew, Marul, BruneiTweet, Ranoadidas, EmmaGoodEgg, Maurina & Anakbrunei

I’m glad I attended the event. Thanks Sarawak Bloggers for the opportunity! Not only did I learn a couple of things, I also made a couple of new friends! Can’t wait for the next SocMedBN event!!! =D

Last but not least, dear Delwin, may I have the pic of “the four of us” you took please? =)

~~~

Special thanks to @AhimRani of #candidsyndrome for permission to use the amazing pics above! See his full set here.

The recordings for “Brunei Online – Social Media: That’s Where it’s @” is now online http://bit.ly/mW2UsH thanks to @cornergeeks !