March 2, 2010

Bubur Cha Cha

 Do you know that in Penang Bubur Cha Cha is a must have dish on Chap Goh Mei? I haven't found out why ..

After the hectic shopping for Chinese New Year I found that shopping in the last few days had been very leisurely and I could think and buy whatever I like or whatever was available.

I saw a pile of bilong wor (Chinese taro) and found them reasonably priced at RM4.00 per kg. The big species cost a lot more at RM 9.00. And one big taro could fetch up to RM8.00!!

After all the rich food perhaps a little bit of dessert would be nice. What could be better than bubur cha cha from my nyonya ancestors? And it was afterall a Sunday and a Chap Goh Mei as well. Wonder if taro is harvested in the first month of the lunar year.....

According to my elders in the bygone days most Foochow families would have a big backyard garden and enough vegetables would be planted for the whole family. Hence a lot of money was saved. Yam would be one precious crop. Sometimes so much was grown that the family could even sell the valueable crop. My Tiong relatives in Limbang used to say that one plant of yam could have a gold mine underneath it. One plant could often result in RM25.00 worth of taro. Now it would be more. Bilong wor is highly priced by the Foochows.

When sliced the yam or taro has the streaks of a pinang or betel nut. That is why this yam is also called Betel Yam/taro. Bilong is the Foochow transliteration of pinang. And the native would call this keladi Cina. Perhaps it is because the Foochows introduced it to Sarawak.

Diced and steamed yam is already a good dish by itself. And the best Foochow way of eating this is to dip the cubes in small crab sauce or pangi sauce.. (Sarikei Time Capsule)

The best of sweet potatoes - Japanese purple sweet potatoes and orange sweet potatoes.

Peeled and diced the potatoes look nice.

These sago pearls are easily found in Chinese medicine shop. A small packet is only RM1.00. Use the whole packet - boil and washed these little pearls are pretty and makes the bubur char char rich in texture.

A small packet of santan or coconut milk would make the bubur char very rich. If you can use the freshly grated coconut it would be even better.

Don't forget to boil a few leaves of pandan in the santan to give the bubur char char a sweet fragrance. Add a lump of gula melaka if you need some sweetening. The sweet potatoes are fairly sweet.

Here's a nice bowl of bubur cha cha after about one hour's of preparation and cooking. If you have relatives and friends around it is the best time to do collaborative cooking and lots of fun.

It is nice to cook bubur cha cha on hot days.

Here's the recipe:


1 large Purple Sweet Potato
3 medium Orange Sweet Potato
1  or 2 small Yam ( Chinese Taro)
1 small packet of Sago (Tapioca pearls)
A lump of gula melaka
two or three pandan leaves

If you have the time you can make the following

Tapioca flour jelly

100g Tapioca Flour
½ cup Boiling Water
Red coloring

Coconut Milk Base

3 liter water
1 cup Thick coconut milk
120g  gula melaka / Sugar
3 Banana (peeled and cut half inches thick) - optional
2 or 3  Pandan leaves
Salt to taste


1) Boil sago pearls separately, until translucent and cooked.
2) Peel and cut all potatoes and taro into cubes or desired shapes. Steam, separately, until cooked.
3) To make tapioca flour jelly, place the flour in mixing bowl. Pour in boiling water. Mix the flour and water until well incorporated. When the dough is cool, roll it out evenly on a well floured surface and cut into cube or desired shapes.
4) Bring a pot of water, add in gula melaka or sugar, pour in banana and boil for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
5) In boiling water (3 liters), add in thick coconut milk, sugar, salt, pandan leaves and cook over low heat about 10–20 minutes.
5) Pour in all the ingredients, together with the sago, tapioca jelly into coconut milk base and mix well. Serve hot or cold, as you like.

As a busy housewife I would usually leave out the sago flour jelly.

It is nice to serve this dish in the afternoons especially on a Saturday when kids/relatives/friends are around to help.

A scoop or two of vanilla icecream in the cold bubur cha cha is also a nice variation.


(Tips: when the taro and sweet potato season is around you can always cut and cube the roots and have them steamed. Freeze them and when you need to prepare bubur cha cha it will be easy. Freezing will not reduce the quality of these roots I have found out. And it would be very economical too. Furthermore you don't have to wait for the taro season to make your bubur cha cha.)


Uncle Lee said...

Hello Sarawakiana, I love bubur cha cha, but without the yam. Have never appreciated yam, though my wife loves it.
So what she does, will pour out a bowl for me, scoop out the yam first and will add, "you very lecheh, la", ha ha.

My mom was pure Nyonya, 5 generations, maybe 3rd and 4th were pirates, opium smugglers....ha ha, but she was one heck of a good cook.
My wife is Cantonese, before met me she only good at opening cans....when met me, and even though I eat to live, not live to eat, she found out I love Nyonya foods.
She did a crash course with a Malay and Nyonya friends...and laid a trap for me. She invited me home for dinner.

She had cooked fish head curry, my favourite.
She made bubur cha cha too, I remember....all Nyonya style.
I was invited twice for dinner...and I think her rempah, ingrediets dull my senses as I should have then disappeared after that....instead I married the cook.
Game over, ha ha.
Women who can cook are bachelors, ha ha.
Have a nice day,Lee.

Jay said...

Last sunday I went to Lachau. There they sell one big yam for RM5 and smaller one at RM3. Some are from as far as from our neighbour country, Indonesia.

Ann said...

Since Malaysia has allowed herbal medicine without having to go thru the tough clinical test but based on traditional knowledge, a no of herbal plants have been manufactured for antidote of all kinds.

I post my sis Marg's reply on the Indonesian herb here, so you can read it with out having to go back.

Guess who taught me to cook Bobor Cha Cha? Of all persons, it was our Taiwanese Teacher Mdm Tiang.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Jay
Lachau is a nice place. The shophouses there must have been having a good Chinese New Year business inthe last two weeks!!

A good friend of mine is from there.

Yam from Indonesia? Must be interesting? Did you buy?

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Uncle Lee

Nice to know that your wife can really cook for you!! There's the saying "To way to a man's heart is through his stomach".

If only more husbands are more appreciative of their wives' cooking there will be less marital problems in this world.

Your mum must have been really good cook.

Many people do not like taro/yam actually. But it is the sticky yam that gives BCC the nice texture...


Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Ann
Madam Tiong also taught me how to make the fruity beef jerky. Many years later I learned that Yak meat is done that way too...Her cooking was really famous...and food sale never missed a donation from her.

Do you still cook it?

Ah Ngao said...

waa...drools man ! talking about these yams,i like them thinly-sliced & fried in oil like pisang goreng.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Ah Ngao
You must certainly like yam! Yes when they are fried they are nice.

I like the special paste made from frying small onions and pounded dried prawns and cook the yam until it becomes mushy. This is very village Foochow dish that has been a favourite for many generations in my family!!

I like the Hakka dish which is stewed layers of belly pork with yam slices and preserved tou foo....excellent!

Bengbeng said...

I have been looking forward to Miri for so long finally it is within reach :) The resort called me this morning so i guess it is confirmed.

I will email u my number. who knows perhaps u have a chanz to show off a new camera? haha

Jay said...

My dad is a farmer. He plant all sort crop and yam, potato etc .. and we eat all of those thing. Now very often i feel weird when i thought of buying them. Nevertheless sometime i do buy because my dad don't do farming actively.

Ann said...

Hi CY,

You will go LOL, I hate BBCC. I don't cook it. I think it is because when I was little, my mum used to buy gunny sacks of sweet potatoes. They were covered with dried mud. This anuty claims that the mud protects it. We were lazy to wash, and grumbles that the mud added to the weight so she could charge mum more. )from hind sight, we were the evil nieces, she didn't sell by weight, just by the sack.)

We had boiled potatoes as is, without peeling for breakfast, we had to peel the cooked potatoes, or is we were in a rush, we juust ate the skin because my Ah Kung said the skin is the best part, and true to his words, he lived a ripe of age of 84 and was highly sick.

Then at 3 pm, we had to peel the sweet potatoes, chop into cubes, and I was too hurried to chop into nice cubes, to be scolded that I was FAI SOW FAI GEOK, ie fast hand fast leg. We had FAN SHU TONG, sweet potato sweet soup, no nothing like sago pearls or coconut milk.

In summary, I had sweet potatoes coming out of my ears. LOL

Sweet potatoes in NZ is called Kumara, ad regarded as good stuff, used in roasting to accompany lamb and Pumpkin. (You read why I don't eat pumpkin.)

I like yam/taro. My Ah Kung grew them, all sorts.

Mdm Tiang also taught me to make yam puffs. Ngao Kok. This I like.

LOL, you can I went to the same school, I mean we both were taught the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. I read you reply to Uncle Lee. I was going to tell him that. As usual, you are my big sis in school, you mentioned it first.

Luckily for me, my husband has a very simple stomach. Just cook him simple food. He is a happy man. Ah Yo if I married Uncle Lee or his brother or his cousins. The whole day, I would have to slave in the kitchen with the TOI HUM ZAI, tum tum tum the rumpeh. Will never be good enough for them.

I am going to paste this to his blog.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Bengbeng
Good it is going to materialise. I haven't heard from Steve L yet. May be I will call him.
Nope I have a Sony Cybershot...four years old. And a Nikon ...Qualified or not? Or I use my camera to shoot the photographers only and get a few tips...Say hi to BH and Mrs.BB.

God bless.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

To me it is wonderful to have relatives who are farmers. I love watching chickens and ducks as they grow...and of course tend to vegetables...At the moment I really want to plant taro...but the soil in my garden has become too hard from the heat...Need to buy top soil again.
Keep the garden growing. It is good for the soul.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

How nice to hear about the sacks of potatoes...In those days I understand potatoes were cheaper than rice but any way the elders believed (correctly) that potatoes were good for our digestive system.
I have a story about my dad and sweet potatoes ...later...
But I like the way you wrote about your pestle and mortar....hahahaha I would never get a good husband through my cooking too....On the first day of my marriage I had to use the two burner government provided kerosene stove which I had never used in my life(in my Sibu house we had a New World and a Foochow traditional stove)...I did not know where to light the fire!! Almost put the match into the kerosene bottle!!

That's one story from your big sister!! LOL.

My husband likes Loh Mai Kai and my kids love Wo Kok. (can make the first one but not the second one)


Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Today (Chin Tien)
That's a very very motivating comment you made. Thanks.

For my friends who can only read English this is the translation" Under heaven there is no path that cannot go through;there is no obstacle than cannot be overcome;there is no enemy who cannot be defeated...."

Free Bird said...

So many comments! Your blog is getting popular. Its amazing how one topic can relate to other topics. you might have more to write about just reading the comments.

Bubur cha cha has always been a favourite. not the west malaysian one with one hundred thousand other ingredients inside. Sometimes if i do order bubur cha cha i'm usually left with 1/4 of the bowl if i scoop out the unnecessary ingredients.

I remember helping grandma clean the yam out of the back garden when the heng hua auntie neighbour allowed grandma to take some. We'll clean the root, peel it and slice it into small pieces to make grandma's yam cake. steamed and fried. the young leaves(?) would be used to cook as a dish for our lunch or dinner. Very very very nice.

During my college years i would buy a lot of yam and cook, bubur cha cha, fried yam, yam cake,stir fried yam and pork, yam and porridge, and other recipes i learnt, for days until my housemates got sick of it(haha). I can never get sick of yam, just itchy.

I didn't know that bubur cha cha was related to chap goh meh, otherwise i would've attempted to make it for a chap goh meh pot luck that i was invited to. it would be awesome to feed my west malaysian friends how nice bubur cha cha is cooked simple rather than the rojak bubur cha cha we find here.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Freebird
yes I do remember the Heng Hua Ah Moo of Sungei Merah who had a lot of yam and sweet potatoes...

What are neighbours for??? I love barter trading with such neighbours...And I think Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall has the same idea....barter trading with neighbours.

I will exchange dill and my basil with sweet potatoes. I also have lots of torch ginger and limes. Also my not so good daun long too...I may not have to buy vegetables after all...Don't forget I have fresh coconuts too...

Any one in Miri would like to barter trade with me????

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