Monday, May 17, 2010

Of Hakka Chinese and our cuisine

I don't know why, as I sit here doing nothing, there was a sudden urge for me to search the web and get down with a lil' history of my people, the Hakka Chinese, and of course, my interest - its food! Hakka are less known to many people, well at least that's what I think in Malaysia. So, I'll like to bore introduce you guys with a lil' something about my people!

"The Hakkas are a practical lot and have a long tradition of making the best of a bad situation. They have no qualms in moving on to another place in search of a better life and hence earned their name – Hak, which means ''guest'' and ga, ''family''."; Tuesday, June 03, 2003

"The Hakka people also known as Hakka Han, are Han Chinese who speak the Hakka language and based in the provinces of GuangdongJiangxi, and Fujian in China. Their ancestors were often said to have arrived from what is today's central China centuries ago. It is said that in a series of migrations, the Hakkas moved, settled in their present locations in southern China, and then migrated overseas to various countries throughout the world. They have had a significant influence on the course of Chinese and overseas Chinese history: in particular, they have been a source of revolutionary, political, and military leaders."
Wikipedia; Hakka people

 Famous Hakka people include Sun Yat-sen, Lee Kuan Yew, Fann Wong, Yap Ah Loy, Eric Tsang and Chow Yun-fat just to name a few.

All right, enough about our people, now a lil' something bout our Hakka cuisine which are well described by, so I thought to use its description for this post about food.

"Hakka cuisine may be described as outwardly simple but tasty."
"Hakka cuisine in Hong Kong is less dominated by expensive meats, instead emphasis is placed on an abundance of vegetables. Pragmatic and simple, Hakka cuisine is garnished lightly with sparse or little flavouring."
Wikipedia; Hakka people 

1. Yong Tau Foo
~ Traditionally, making the yong tau foo meant stuffing small pieces of bean curd with ground meat, lightly browning them in hot oil before steaming or braising them in a pot. The yong tau foo as it is known in Malaysia today are more likely to be stuffed with fish rather than meat paste. The commercial varieties that we know so well are really a far cry from the Hakka original.

2. Hakka noodle
~ This bowl of noodle needs no introduction! Commonly found in almost everywhere in Seremban. Simple yet tasty plain noodle with only shredded pork as toppings. Seremban's most famous Hakka noodle can be found here.

3. Salt-baked chicken 
Another of their notoriously salty dishes is salt-baked chicken in which chicken, often marinated with wine, is wrapped in paper and baked in hot salt in a covered wok till cooked

4. Rice wine chicken
~ A more salubrious dish that the Hakkas are famous for is chicken cooked in a sweet homemade rice wine. It is a simple dish that uses little seasoning – often just ginger and a dash of salt – to bring out the taste of chicken and the quality of the brew so the winemaker’s skill plays a very important part in this dish. The dish is also served to new mothers during their period of confinement.

5. Braised fried pork
~ fried pork marinated overnight in 5-spices-powder and wine, then braised with black fungus for hours.

6. Pork belly (Kiu nyuk)
There are two versions of Kiu Nyuk, the most common consists of sliced pork with preserved mustard greens - thick slices of pork belly, with a layer of preserved mustard greens between each slice, are cooked and served in a dark sauce made up of soy sauce and sugar. The other version is cooked with yam or taro. Usually pork belly are used, for its layers of fat and meat. The yam and pork are shallow fried until browned before being steamed with five spice.

7. Lui cha (pounded tea) Rice
~ Yet another dish that demands elaborate preparation is the oddly named Thunder Tea Rice (lui cha funin Hakka); the ''thunder'' possibly is the din created during the cutting, pounding and grinding of tea leaves, vegetables and nuts that go into the making of this extraordinary dish.

8.  Sohn Pan Tzai (Abacus beads)
~ The daintiest of Hakka dishes is perhaps the suan pan ji (abacus beads), so called because the button-shaped taro snack resembles the beads on the Chinese abacus. A dough made of mashed yam is boiled and then stir-fried with minced meat and chopped vegetables to make a tasty snack.

9. Pig trotter vinegar
~  Trotters are often served whole with the skin fried to a crisp or chopped into big chunks and stewed in sweet black vinegar. The Hakkas also waste no parts of the pig and are known for their skills in turning offal into delectable nibbles.

10. Poon Choy (Big Bowl feast)
~Poon Choi includes ingredients such as pork, beef, lamb, chicken, duck, abalone, ginseng, shark fin, fish maw, prawn, crab, dried mushroom, fishballs, squid, dried eel, dried shrimp, pigskin, beancurd and Chinese radish. Poon Choi is special in that it is composed of many layers of different ingredients. It is also eaten layer by layer instead of "stirring everything up". Traditional Village Poon Choi is served in large metal washing bowls with a perforated metal plate at the bottom to keep food from burning, as it is kept warm on a portable stove as it is being served.

11. Black Tortoise Kueh (Cake)
The 'Orh' (Black) Ku Kueh or Black Tortoise Cake which I have here could have been a Hakka snack. I am just guessing as these black ku kueh gets it black hue from the leaves of the Rami, Choy Yip or Mugworts plant. These leaves are favored by the Hakkas and widely used in their traditional cakes to give them their distinctive black and I believe, for their medicinal properties too!

So........these are but a few of Hakka dishes which are more famous..... There are some desserts and home-cooked food that are worth mentioning but I just can't find pictures to show. Hmm.....I guess this will do and hope you get an insight of the Hakka peeps! ;)


Kin Man said...

so many food...growl..hungry d..

ohmywtf said...

my favourite is the wine chicken! long time never eat liao :-(

Unknown said...

@*gasp* ohmywtf just wrote a comment on my blog post!! *gasping more frantically* Hahaha....Well, the rice wine chicken is not bad when cooked properly ie the porportion of sweet and bitterness of wine is balanced. My personal favourite is the Lui Cha. (Ok...stop staring me as if I'm a weirdo!) Many ppl hates it but I just enjoy it very much! ^^,

@Kin Man!! Jom jalan-jalan cari makan when you are back in Sban!! XD

Anonymous said...

i like this .. haha
from ah mee

Liz said...

OMG. I recognized more than a few of those dishes. Mostly cos my grandma makes them. Even the "Black Tortoise Cake" ahaha. It's actually quite yummy though it doesn't look it :P

Waaaa all the pictures made me feel like eating nia !! *growl*

Unknown said...

Your grandma makes the black cake??? COOL!! It's one of my favourite dessert!! Yum yum!!

Liz said...

It's yummyyyy.

I haven't had it in ages though :(

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