Kampungkayell

Food, life, and fun in my "kampung,"(village), KL (Kuala Lumpur). Did I mention "food?"

Sungei Petani and an 80th Birthday Party

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Kou Foo starting the BBQ fire
Allan and I both agree that family is perhaps the most important thing to us.
Benediction
It was a difficult decision to make.

After running around to Redang and Singapore for more than a week, we had originally decided not to go to Sungei Petani with the rest of his family to celebrate his Sei Cheong Kong's (4th Grand Uncle) 80th birthday.

I was not quite up to driving again especially after driving the length and some of the breadth of our beautiful country. And I’m not being sarcastic. Once you get past the concrete monuments of Kuala Lumpur and the paeans to phallic worship, Malaysia is truly gorgeous. As opposed to California which is mostly desert. Just that the Americans are much better at hype and marketing than we are.

To all intents and purposes I had driven from Kuala Lumpur to Terengganu to KL again, then on down to Singapore and back and I was "driven" out. Don't get me wrong. I lurrrrvvveee driving and cars. It's relaxing for me to drive. And with Allan along I always have the option of handing it over to him if I'm falling asleep. Did I mention that Allan and I love travelling together? A blessing, truly, because not everyone can. Not even the most loving of married couples can always travel together harmoniously.

If I sound like I'm gloating about having found a partner I can enjoy travelling with, it is because I am! Snigger!

In any case, after much persuasion, Allan changed his mind and since I had left it up to him to decide whether or not to go, I prepared myself for the trip with nary a whimper. We had a party to attend the night before we travelled and by the time we got into bed it was 2 am. The plan was to leave at 730am on Saturday morning.

The bedside clock alarm was set for 600am with breakfast prepped for 630am. I don't like rushing.

The first sound I heard on Saturday morning was Allan exclaiming. "SHIT, it's 7 o'clock."

We managed a rushed breakfast, and with a change of clothes in the bag, as it were, we zipped off to Allan's Mum's place to pick some of the folks up.

The drive up North is, to my mind, one of the most scenic routes Malaysia has to offer, especially in certain kinds of light. The warm yellow light of early morning makes everything particularly dreamy. Along the way you see the far off mist shrouded mountains of the Tahan range, a tall waterfall just before Ipoh and the limestone formations of Ipoh city. Further north, and you come accross hectares of padi fields which at this time are just being replanted and some have green seedlings growing in them. Water buffalos wallowing in the water, scarecrows standing to attention, It's all gorgeously pastoral.
Prepping the smoked salmon
It was as if God knew what we were about and had blessed us with this gorgeous, crystalline day. Even the sunset over the house looked like He was watching from above and enveloping us in his all enfolding and loving embrace.
Sunset over the house
We arrived in Sungei Petani at around 12 noon and immediately the "big family" syndrome began. It was like we brought the decibels with us. Now, I have a small nuclear family but a very large extended family. Allan, on the other hand, has a large nuclear family. His Mum has 5 sisters and 1 brother. And with the exception of 1 sister who was still on the way up to SP, they were all there!Matthew on the grill
Everyone talks at once. There is a cacophony of opinions, a plethora of instructions but somehow there is harmony. Things get done in the blink of an eye and before you know it we had sat down to lunch which had been prepared before hand by Aunty Cheng Har who lives in Sungei Petani.

Lunch was a Sitiawan/Kampung Koh special. "Hong Chew" Chicken. In essence, it's an almost Crimson Red Chicken Broth that is made with the leftover mash of the glutinous rice wine. Its a little yeasty in flavour and it is redolent of ginger, garlic, and the sweet and sour notes of the rice wine. You then toss in some "meen seen" and you have a bowl of heaven on earth. You WILL be begging for seconds. Unfortunately I did not take a pic of this concoction. Next time.

Cousins, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, all chipped in to make dinner.

Smoked Salmon with pickled onions and capers, Grilled Tamarind Prawns, Grilled Live Crabs, Marinated Sirloin Steaks, Veal sausages, Lamb Chops, Potato salad, and a green salad.
The prawns being prepped for the tamarind marinade
All washed down with a serendipitous drink. Since we couldn't find 7up or Sprite, we picked up some Ice Cream Soda and used that as a mixer for Drambuie. Finished with a squeeze of lime, it was refreshing, sweet, cool, grassily herbaceous and perfect for that warm evening.
Drambuie, Ice Cream Soda, and a wedge of lime squeezed in on the rocks
The Smoked Salmon was 3 S; “Something So Simple.” The phrase "flavours dancing on your tongue" was perfectly coined for this. The onions were sliced thinly and brined in a pickling solution of vinegar, sugar, and salt. Left for about an hour or two then drained and rinsed in fresh water so it wouldn't be too strong. The perfect bite was a strip of smoked salmon, a caper, and a generous helping of pickled onions. The unctuous heady smokiness of the fish was complemented by a sweet sour crunch of pickled onion and finished with a salty bitter pop of caper.The smoked salmon, and the various grilled meats

Picture me, walking around the bbq fire with the cold drambuie mixer in my hand popping these rolled up morsels of smoked salmon in my mouth. All the while, we’re having a good giggle about anything and everything with young and old and surrounded by love and affection. It was a dream evening.
The "drinks"
After the aperitif and the hors d’ouerve/starter/tapas/pupus, people started piling their plates with the food proper. And filling their glasses with the real stuff. Neat Royal Salute and Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Try a bite of steak and a sip of Royal Salute together. Forget the wine. Sometimes wine is too effete. Sometimes. *Grin*
Sei Cheong Kong's Bottle of Black Label in Chocolate Cake & Fondant
Succulent steaks. This is where Allan and some of his aunties part company with me. They all insist on medium. Yuk! In my opinion, the poor cow died in vain for a medium steak. It’s all dry and stringy and leathery by the time the blood dries up and it turns an ignominous grey brown. There is a certain Liver-yness about it as well.

I like my steaks Medium rare. They should be bleeding. Not gushing like a freshly sliced artery but they should be exuding juiciness. Make sure you salt generously just before you throw them on the grill. And it should only be a passing aquantaince. Like speed dating. Then move over. Don’t leave them there and go off for a cigarette or take a phone call while you’re doing this. The fire should be as hot as it can get up to and you should have grill marks on the steak.

Let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes and then enjoy.

Needless to say I had to ensure that I got one to those specifications. And yes, I ate with my hands so they got rather juicy. HAHA God I felt feral! ;-)
Crabs on the grill
The crabs were… well, you couldn’t get fresher. They were still crawling around before we chucked them on the grill. Don’t worry. For those with slightly more delicate constitutions, we did them the kindness of making sure they were “finished” before we chucked them on the fire. Spearing with a knife does the trick and it’s fast.

Dessert was simple. Cake (the Johnnie Walker Black Label Chocolate Fondant) and Watermelon. Classic.
After dinner entertainment
Allan’s Ee Chai had prepared a script for a skit which was performed to screams of laughter and Sei Cheong Kong, being the sport he is, allowed himself to be “transformed.”
The Elixir of Youth which transformed Sei Cheong Kong...
Happy Birthday Sei Cheong Kong. Hope you had fun! I know I did.
...into this!

25 Comments

OMG Is he fuchow like me?

sounds like loads of fun you guys have there and oh my sei cheung kong is really very sporting! many happy returns of the day to him

gawd! all that food!! you guys sure know how to have fun. great write-up. :-)

Lucky u went! Stupendous party!

wow, sg petani got smoked salmon but got no sprite or 7 up? terror lar. what a spread for a bbq. agree with you about steaks. must have blood or where got nice hor.

my god,

what a coincidence, my dad is from SP too. and we used to celebrate my grand uncle birthday once, very much similar like urs.

another coincidence,
the grand uncle is my Sei Suk Gung !

waaaaaaa

A very spritely 80yo! Food, booze and family. A nice combo.

Waulau! Looks like knowing how to have fun runs in the family!

Any eligible single nieces / nephews to introduce to me? ;)

savante; yeah I think he is...they originally came from Kampung Koh, but being a S**g, I would expect you to be related to the church bells. ;-) Ding, Ling, Diong, & Tiong. ;-)

babe_kl; yes we did have lots of fun and it really didn't feel very rushed although we drove up on Sat and returned on Sunday morning.

LL; yeah, Allan's family sure knows how to have fun. That's for sure! ;-)

tummythoz; yes I'm glad we went. It was lovely.

FBB; harlow, smoked salmon, sirloin steaks, veal sausages, capers, and lamb chops all came from KL. Allan's aunties carted it all up pre-marinated! ;-)

joery; sei suk gung would be your Dad's side as you said. Sei Cheong Kong is Allan's Mum's side. ;-) SP is actually a quaint little town. When I retire I wouldn't mind going to a place like that...or maybe Cherating! ;-)

william; can't ask for more. The man was dancing around in that get up. His wife, sei yee poh, is very methodist, so frowns on all this gaiety and imbibing! ;-) But all the nieces were like...you're only 80 once, she'll live. So went on and planned it! HAHAHA ;-)

savante; yeah I think he is...they originally came from Kampung Koh, but being a S**g, I would expect you to be related to the church bells. ;-) Ding, Ling, Diong, & Tiong. ;-)

babe_kl; yes we did have lots of fun and it really didn't feel very rushed although we drove up on Sat and returned on Sunday morning.

LL; yeah, Allan's family sure knows how to have fun. That's for sure! ;-)

tummythoz; yes I'm glad we went. It was lovely.

FBB; harlow, smoked salmon, sirloin steaks, veal sausages, capers, and lamb chops all came from KL. Allan's aunties carted it all up pre-marinated! ;-)

joery; sei suk gung would be your Dad's side as you said. Sei Cheong Kong is Allan's Mum's side. ;-) SP is actually a quaint little town. When I retire I wouldn't mind going to a place like that...or maybe Cherating! ;-)

william; can't ask for more. The man was dancing around in that get up. His wife, sei yee poh, is very methodist, so frowns on all this gaiety and imbibing! ;-) But all the nieces were like...you're only 80 once, she'll live. So went on and planned it! HAHAHA ;-)

sneexe; actually got... ;-) wanna meet Philip? He's pushing 30, about 6' 4", shoulders and a chest you could sink into, and while he affects this cool, man-of-few-words exterior, is about as big hearted and sweet as you could get! ;-)Don't get between him and his soccer though. ;-)

Allan's family is really lovely!

"Everyone talking all at once..." Hahah. During my family gatherings, everyone screams at one another...

It's organised chaos when the whole famliy gets together :)

Suk San Wan Gerd Sei Cheung Kong!

unkaleong; you got it one man! ;-) It took a bit of getting used to. Coming from a family that is quite quiet to one like Allan's. It was quite overwhelming. ;-)

Phwoaarrr! The grub looks awesome guys...always makes me hungry looking at your blog!

..ooo!

...the other thing I want to know is, how on earth did you get those lovely gold-brown colour variations on the cake? Gorgeous :)

sneexe; that's a good point. Should blog about that in my justheavenly blog.

It's airbrushed. Food colouring. ;-)

Hopped over via unka leong via Chia's blog. Sigh what I would give to be around family lidat, I am officially green with envy seeing all the fun you had. Nice Blog :O)
Ahh.. I see two of my kopitiam kaki here.

Hey Firehorse haha! I still think cyberspace is like Kuala Lumpur, only 2 degrees of separation. Thanks for the comment and compliment. Stop by; do.

Hi! Came from firehorse and unka leong.

Your salmon looks positively wicked!! Bought a whole fish and sliced it yourselves?? Nice and thick, none of those paper slivers for Sei Cheung Kong and his merry guests, eh?

And the cake!! I was wondering why the bottle looked like a dartboard on the wall !! Until I noticed the darts were candles... LOL

LOL at the church bell family clans!!!

kat; welcome. yes we did buy the salmon fillet. It was from Pok brothers.

As for Whisky bottle, yeah, it was good fun! ;-) Especially when doused with the real thing! ;-)

Are Pok bros still around? My dad was just mentioning he bought an entire lamb to roast from them years back. Can anyone buy stuff from them? Or only people in the business?

Pok bros still around Kat. But they've been sold so the family doesn't own it anymore.

If you walk in, generally they will entertain you provided you buy like huge quantities. Don't go in and ask for 2 250g steaks lah ;-) hehe

Like a whole side of salmon fillet or 5 kg of beef which is needed to feed the LARGE family. ;-)

Thanks. I'll bear that in mind. Next time if I need to feed a large family or two, I'll get the contact from you! :D

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