This Teochew guy does not speak a word of the dialect. My father neither taught me the dialect nor the culture. From a young age, I spoke Hokkien, that being the predominant Chinese dialect in Penang where I grew up. I also learnt some Hakka from my mother and Cantonese from the landlady where we rented a room in Ayer Itam in my early years.
While I am as Teochew as a banana is yellow, I have an inherent love for the simplicity of Teochew cuisine, especially the porridge with its multitude of tasty dishes and appetizing condiments. Teochew moi, as it is popularly known, is light on the stomach yet filling enough to be considered a main meal.
Dishes for Teochew porridge uses a lot of preserved and pickled ingredients. The common accompaniments for the porridge I used to eat are salted duck eggs (kiam ark nui), braised salted vegetables, salted fish (kiam hu), canned fried dace with preserved black beans, canned pickled lettuce, preserved bean curd (tau joo), sweetened pickled mustard (kong chai), salted peanuts, stir fried beansprouts with anchovies and preserved radish omelette (chai por nui).
My favourite is a simple condiment of dried prawns, shallots, garlic, ginger and chilli marinated in taucheo and calamansi juice. I could finish entire bowl of porridge with just that dish. The taste is a mix of sweet, salty, tangy and spicy, its texture accentuated by the firmness of the dried prawns, crunchiness of the shallots and garlic and softness of the preserved beans.
It has been a long time since I last had a taste of this. I got Wuan to make the condiment for me today but could not remember all the ingredients needed. After I had my fill for lunch this afternoon, I suddenly remembered that we left out ginger. Nevertheless, it was appetizing but not something that I can eat often due to the high salt content in the taucheo. For now, my appetite for Teochew porridge is satiated.
Appetizing Teochew porridge condiment – taucheo with dried shrimps and shallots.
Taucheo with Dried Prawns and Shallots Condiment Recipe
6 shallots, slice thinly
3 cloves garlic, slice thinly
(3 slices young ginger, shred finely)
1 red chilli, remove seeds and slice thinly
1 tablespoon dried shrimps, remove shells, wash and drain
1 tablespoon whole bean paste (taucheo)
Juice from 1 calamansi (keat la, kat chai, limau kasturi)
Put all ingredients in a bowl, adding the calamsi juice last. Mix well. Serve with porridge.
*By the way, if anybody knows what this dish is called in Teochew, please let me know.
December 19, 2009
After we have photographed to our hearts’ content the plants at the nursery stalls, we hopped over to where a strong stench emanated from. The two guys manning the stall were very friendly. When they saw us with our cameras, they encouraged us to take photos of their goods. They were selling a variety of salted fishes, dried anchovies, dried prawns, dried cuttlefishes and salted duck eggs.
I had wanted to get some heh bee (dried prawns) and ikan bilis halus (dried baby anchovies). The heh bee is for cooking dried prawns porridge. The dried baby anchovies I would steam with ginger and garlic in oil and eat with rice. The stall did not have what I wanted. I ended up taking only photographs, enjoying the pungence of the salted fishes and silently salivating over the dishes I could cook with the salted fishes available.
Salted duck eggs – telur itik masin.
Salted fish – ikan masin.
Dried cuttlefish – sotong kering.
Friendly salted fish stall keeper.
Dried prawns – heh bee – udang kering.
Pulau Pangkor dried anchovies – ikan bilis kasar Pangkor.
Tags: dried baby anchovies, dried cuttlefish, dried prawns, heh bee, ikan bilis halus, ikan bilis kasar Pangkor, ikan masin, Ipoh City Stadium, Pasar Tani Ipoh, Pasar Tani Kg Simee, Pasar Tani Mega, salted duck egg, salted fish, sotong kering, telur itik masin, udang kering
Heh bee – dried prawns – udang kering
Another road trip to Ipoh is coming up. I am looking forward to this for several reasons – the second being able to go to the pasar tani that opens on Saturdays only. We were there in May but as we woke up late, we reached the pasar tani when it was about to close. Nevertheless, we managed to buy some heh bee (dried prawns) and ikan bilis halus (baby anchovies).
I prefer buying them at such places instead of from supermarkets as I can smell and see if they are of good quality or not. Groceries such as these are also available from the markets and sundry shops but the pasar tani is more accessible. Besides, our planned trip to Ipoh conincides with the day when the pasar tani is opened. So why not?