Once upon a time, one of my favourite Penang hawker food is chee cheong chook. It is Cantonese style congee with pig intestines as its main ingredient. The intestines are either deep-fried or boiled. Chopped char siu (barbecued pork) is usually added to the porridge with spring onion thrown in as garnishing. I prefer the deep-fried intestines for its aroma and crunchiness. The boiled intestines can be a little chewy at times.
Hawker stall at New Lane Penang selling chee cheong chook.
Photo by Wuan.
The taste of the porridge differs from hawker to hawker depending on how the intestines are prepared. I was told that the better tasting intestines are those that are not thoroughly washed so as to retain its natural pungence that reeks slightly of urine. I am not fond of that smell. That is why I am selective of the hawkers I get my chee cheong chook from.
When Wuan and I were in Penang recently, Suanie and her friend Pinky incidentally were there too. So we arranged with Bryan and Reallybites to meet for dinner. We went to New Lane which is famous for its hawker food. This area has been a hawker food heaven in Penang for as long as I can remember due to its strategic location that is smack right in the middle of town.
Penang New Lane chee cheong chook.
Photo by Wuan.
At the mention of New Lane, the only thing that struck my mind is chee cheong chook. There are other nice food there but I have always related New Lane to chee cheong chook. It is actually taboo food now but I have not had it for at least a decade already. I have forgotten how it really tasted like before but it was something that I wanted to try again. Inside the mouth, the crispy intestines were a stark contrast against the smooth texture of the porridge. After years of eating bland food due to my kidney problems, I found the taste too strong for my liking. I did not finish eating it. Nevertheless, I was contented that I had finally gotten the opportunity to taste the porridge that my taste buds have been pining for a long time now.