It’s A Hokkien Thing

When my mom is lazy, she cooks Tua Chye Perng or Chinese green mustards rice. 大菜饭 The same vege 大菜 is used to make pickled kiam chye or salted vegetable. It was a recipe handed to her by her mother or my late grandmother. It was humble food popular with the poor people of Fujian, China. It is a cost saving meal as no separate dishes are required.

It is similar to yam, pumpkin, long bean, carrots, mushroom, potato and cabbage rice. Collectively, they are known as “kiam perng” or salty / savoury rice. 咸饭Some call it Chinese Rice Casserole when meat such as boneless chicken and sausage are used.

I used to hate tua chye when I was a kid. The mustards smelled terrible when it was cooked. Now it seems worse, I always panic thinking I smelled a whiff of leaking cooking gas. To make it more palatable, pre cooked heh bee or tiny dried shrimps, pork and sauces are added before going into the rice cooker.

Although I still dislike it, I eat it because I respect tradition and think fondly of my late granny.

#rice #tradition #fujian #hokkien

The Hokkiens Are Having A Blast

It is called the Hokkien New Year in Melaka where the Hokkiens arrived some 500 or 600 years ago. The Pai Ti Kong tradition lives on. It will be a blast midnight tonight. Keep your pets indoor.

Tonight, the Hokkiens will set off enough firecrackers and fireworks to make the world think North Korea launched some nuclear weapons. It’s the ‘coming out from hiding in sugar cane plantation” syndrome.
Don’t let your cats and dogs out tonight as they may be bewildered and wander off until lost.

A girl waiting for the apex of the Pai Ti Kong Festival. At midnight, there’ll be a bonfire of joss paper and firecrackers to celebrate the Jade Emperor God’s birthday. In the meantime, three giant joss sticks
burn in front of a table laden with food and fruits. The home offerings were flanked by two tall sugar cane stalks.

Olympus OM-D, ISO 500, f1.4, 1/60 sec.

#paitikong #hokkien #fujian #culture #melaka #tradition #history #malacca #chinesefestival #taoism

Understanding The Chinese Psyche

It is a Hokkien (Fujian dialect) term you will hear a lot during Chinese New Year. It goes with the Chinese obsession with prosperity and luck in the form of riches via a windfall. Chinese folks like to gamble, be it at home card games, on mahjong tables or at casinos. So “huat” is like a clarion call and a good luck greeting.

It is not exclusive to Chinese New Year, though. I remember when the deities at the Nine Emperor Gods festival were paraded, every joss stick toting devotee was shouting “Huat Ah!” at the top of their lungs. So was the crowd when the ominous looking Hell Keeper’s deity was lifted for burning during Por Tor or the climax of the Hungry Ghost month.
Huat means ‘to prosper’ as in Fatt in Cantonese. So Huat Ah!

Sony A7R, ISO 160, f4, 1/250 sec

#culture #custom #chinese #hokkien #fujian #huat #prosper #neg #twilight #sunset

Chwee Kueh

Chui Ker (Hokkien) or Woon Chai Koh (in Cantonese) is rice flour cake steamed in metal cups or bowls. The rice pudding is then topped up with ‘Chai Por’.

The toppings of Chai Por is preserved and fried radish (lobak) chopped into bits with sesame oil and soy sauce added. Chili sauce is optional.

It is takeaway or street food that should be eaten on the wax paper it comes wrapped in.

The exact recipe varies. Some use shallots or turnip, some add dried shrimps (heh bi) while others soak the toppings in a special oil concoction.

For the rice flour, some mix it with potato flour to enhance the texture and smoothness.

As such, chui kueh from different stalls never taste the same and the satisfaction varies greatly. If you find a good hawker selling it, pray it stays.

It is a dying traditional Chinese breakfast snack and is not as easy to find these days. Chui Ker is more popular in neighbouring Singapore where it is spelled and pronounced as chwee kueh.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 800, f14, 1/80 sec.

Mee Hoon Kueh

Behrang is essentially a Hokkien town. Where Hokkiens ( 福建话 – Fujian people) live, you will find authentic Mee Hoon Kueh in eating places. By chance, I discovered one of the best here. Mee Hoon Kueh is similar to the Hakka hand-pulled “pan mee” or flat flour noodles.

Instead of noodle strips, the flour dough is delicately hand-kneaded with egg and oil into bite-size pieces. It is then brought to a simmer in a broth of ikan bilis (anchovies), pork balls, pork belly slices and sawi (mustard greens). It takes time to cook the dish as you can’t hurry love.

Good thing the boss of Vivian, the Indonesian cook, is always busy with mahjong. She learned the craft, refined it and now makes one of the most awesome mee hoon kueh I ever tasted. She said she might set up a stall back in Surabaya when she retires.

‘Mee Hoon Kueh’ is usually pronounced as ‘Mee Hoon Ker’ outside Penang and the north.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 500, f4, 1/80 sec.