Last Sunday we were invited by my elder sister to a home-cooked Teochew Muay (porridge) lunch at her place. What made her decide to host such an event was a call I made to her one day to notify her during the airing of the TV program, Food Hometown 2 in which Chew Chor Meng 周初明, brought us from Singapore to China, 朝州，汕头，sampling and searching the origins of typical Teochew delicacy. Coincidentally another younger brother called her as well so that got her motivated. You see my elder sister Huang has been our family Sous-chef in our childhood days. She helped in the kitchen and learnt from our late paternal grandmother as well as our parents so she is an expert in many traditional Teochew dishes and Kueh (snacks). We grew up eating this comfort food for breakfast, accompanied by a lot of salty preserved dishes such as Salted Eggs, Fermented Toufu, Pickled Caixin, Pickled Mustard, Salted Fish. I guess the best compliment to the cook is the excitement and enthusiasm of the guests.
Ours is a big family of 10 siblings so she could only accommodate half the number which means about 15 guests altogether with the wives and kids tagging along. It came as a surprise that the kids (nieces and nephews) all acquired the taste for Teochew porridge as well. Most of us polished off at least 3 bowls of porridge. It was a really satisfying meal with family members.
The dishes brought back lots of happy childhood memories. Each dish connects us emotionally to the past with a story to tell. We relished the almost forgotten Pork Belly fried in Hay Bi Hiam (Chilli Dried Shrimp) and the Koo Chye (Chives) Omelette. These you rarely see them in the eateries. And there was the Salted Black Olive - something I've never touched for a long long time. It was the saltiest thing on earth.
|Hay Bi Hiam|
|Koo Chye Omelette|
|Fried Garlic Chicken|
We had Steamed Pek Tor (rabbit fish), Chinese Sausage, Stir Fried Sambal Long Beans, Stir Fried Cabbage, Steamed Fish Cake, Braised Pork with Taukua and Hard Boiled Egg. It seems nowadays you don't have to wait till Chinese New Year to get your hands on Pek Tor because it is being reared in fish farms. My sister specially included Fried Garlic Chicken for me even though this is NOT typical Teochew porridge fare, knowing it is one of my favourite. Not forgetting the all important condiments Vinegar Garlic Chilli sauce and Taucheo (fermented bean sauce). The porridge was of course cooked to perfection, the way it should be, not overcooked and with just the right amount of water in it.
|Steamed Pek Tor (rabbit fish)|
|Stir Fried Sambal Long Beans|
|Stir Fried Cabbage|
|Braised Pork with Taukua|
Some dishes we remembered from the old days with fondness were Cuttlefish (thinly shredded) Omelette, Prawn & Potato in Tomato Sauce, Starchy Green Peas with diced Chicken. CaiPo Omelette is one but it is very common.
|Happy faces. The cook is 3rd from right.|