Warning : This is a non halal food advertisement from Sibu.
Going to Sibu means eating a must have Foochow breakfast. You must give the hotel's continental breakfast a miss.
You should order two dishes (not just one). One must be the wonton or pork dumpling(soup or dry) and the other the kampua. (or Dry mee)
Pian niik or huntun (or wontons)雲吞 or 云吞 is made in a similar way as jiaozi, but the wrappers is thinner and contains less filling, folded in such a way that is leaves a loose flap.
Huntun is always boiled and served about seven in a bowl of instant soup seasoned by sesame oil, soya sauce, a pinch or shredded parsley or some other dried vegetable. It can be served dried (kan)
Huntun is popular in many southern parts of China besides Malaysia and Singapore. It was customary in old Beijing for people to eat huntun at the winter solstice.
I have always been interested in the origin of pian niik or wonton. But it remains very illusive and obscure as not much has really been written about it. My mum used to say..."just eat and don't ask any more...."
There is a story which says that it is called huntun because it was first made by the Hun and Tun clans of the northern parts outside of the Great Wall. I am still looking for the Foochow origins of wonton.
But wonton is simply comfort food which gives the aroma of home sweet home. It is a dumpling in its simplest form and is stuffed with fresh minced pork with traces of pepper and minced garlic. When it is boiled in hot water they look like beautiful and transparent flowers.because of their extremely thin wrappings.
After being taken out of the boiling water the wontons are placed in a bowl of prepared sauces and then garnished with chopped spring onions and fried onions. Sometimes a dessert spoon of minced pork in soy sauce is placed on the top for good measure.
If the order is for a soup wonton then the dumplings would be added to a prepared soup made from superior stock and liver and fresh prawns or whatever extras (ka liaw) you desire.
This is kampua....which actually has a "slimy" or oily sauce. You can order it White (no soy sauce) or Black (with soy sauce). You can ask for "white chilli" which means white kampua with chilli sauce.
The Kampua is made by fast Foochow hands. My friend's video below shows you how fast Foochow Chefs can go.....six bowls came be ordered and delivered within minutes.....True!! So enjoy James Wong's video below.....and some spoken Foochow if you are not familiar with the dialect...You will see the chef "buak" or mix or toss the noodles with the sauce in a special Foochow way...quickly to retain the heat and to prevent sogginess from setting in...."Buak" is a unique Foochow culinary term as you need to be ambidextrous (use both hands) one to hold the netted ladle and the other the chopsticks......if your hands are like your legs (Foochow expression) you cannot prepare kampua well....(Pardon me...)
For extras if you like beef noodles......You may look for Beef Tripe noodles...but the best is yet to be found in Sibu.....Beef noodles is definitely not part of Foochow cuisine.
Although traditionally Foochows drink their own home grown Fujian Mou Li or Jasmine tea Sibu folks some how enjoy their special Kopi-o. I am addicted to it myself and no trip home is meaningful unless I have a cup or two...we used to say Ban Chuan's coffee was the best in Sibu. So I am wondering who is Sibu's top Kopi roaster now in these days of mechanical production of coffee powder!
Even the coffee cups have been updated in the coffee shops....trendy cup ...the spoon is still the small delightful one....
The Foochows of Sibu came from eastern Fujian Province. And this is the wisdom handed down for generations :
a. fine choice of materials
b. a sharp knife - paper thin shreds of meat
c. fire must be strong.
d. Soup/stock must be well prepared.
e. Seasoning - sweet(use of sugar), sour(clever use of vinegar), light( use a little bit of rice wine)and pepper
This photo is from The Star on-line...thanks to Andy Chua for his article.....
Two well known figures of Sibu having a Foochow breakfast...and both of them are not Foochows.....Cheers.