Cute Sukee Nang

During our journey, I asked my model Pin Pin about her exotic looks, I found out that her father is of Hainanese descent, I told her the history which her father never told her. Local Hainanese people are known for their culinary skills, especially fusion food.

Hainanese are from Hainan Island China where many of the islanders were fishermen. Maybe because they are on a separated land, their language is different form the mainlanders. Sukee means own people or kaki nang in Hainanese lingo.

In their long fishing trips across Polynesia, some seafarers married indigenous people and have children. This may explain their exotic physical features such as darker complexion, deeper set eyes and taller noses

Chicken chop, chicken rice and kaya-butter toasts are some of the more well known Malaysian-Hainanese cuisine. Many also used to work on the KTM trains’ catering coaches. How did that come about?

A Hainanese historian suggested a theory. They were latecomers to Malaya. They came after the second wave of mass migration in the 19th century by the Hokkiens, Cantonese, Teochews, Hakkas and other migrants.

My former boss, an influential Hainanese and intellectual told me much. By the time his ancestors arrived, all business and job openings were controlled by powerful clans.

Without a membership card, it was not easy getting a job. They ended up working for colonialists as cooks and caretakers. Many worked at the bungalows on hill resorts such as Fraser’s, Cameron’s and Kenny Hills.

They experimented and enhanced recipes by adding Chinese touches. They made some fantastic scones and marmalade on the hill resorts. It is also claimed that they modified a kebab leftover from a garden party one night and added peanut sauce.

The creators named it “Sar Tay” meaning ‘three pieces’ in Hainanese, and voilĂ !; satay was born. Could be an urban legend. Many think kaya (egg jam) is Hainanese when it is actually Peranakan from Melaka. They came with the 1st wave of Chinese settlers during early 15th century.

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