March 9, 2011

Sing Kwang Foochow Big Pau of Kuching

Can you remember when was the first time you ever had store bought baos (steamed buns) or baozi?

When I was very young and living in the Hua Hong Ice Factory house across the river from Sibu my father brought back a pack of baos from Kuching. He had arrived in the afternoon by Malayan Airways. That was pretty swanky I must say. The baos from Hock Hai (Kuching) were so good then. And for old times' sake I still like dropping by Hock Hai in Kuching nowadays. The quality of the baos has dropped a little. Or does nostalgia play a role in determining vintage quality?

Recently this banner caught my sight in Kuching and I was very amused. Is there such as thing called Foochow Big Pau?  Pau is the Foochow pinyin of the word in Mandarin - Bao. And this photo has brought me to a discussion on the differences between a big bao and a small bao.



Many would ask : What is the difference between Big Bao and Small Bao?   Size of course makes a difference. The big bao has more filling too and the small char siu has a sweet red cooked filling.

Is there a difference between Foochow  Big Bao and any other Big Bao?

The big pao or bao is made from 60 gm of dough and is filled with a quarter egg with a piece of chicken and mushroom. In addition there is  another slice of pork or minced pork. The filling is seasoned with oyster sauce. It is more savoury than the char siu pao which is on the sweeter side.

Actually the same dough is used for both although some gourmets believe that the big bao  or tai bao should be made with a heavier dough and the char siu can do with what the locals call Hong Kong dough which is lighter and can therefore hold a smaller amount of filling.

Below is the Amy Yip Bao which is probably the biggest in Malaysia (only available in KL). It is highly recommendable. The filling is excellent. That is probably the Cantonese Big Bao.





This is Diana Chang who is in an advertisement for char siu Baos....
叉烧包 or Char Siu Pao which is a smaler bao (made from 60 gm dough) is filled with red cooked meat  or char siu with sesame for extra flavour.

The homemade or handmade Foochow bao is the small type and the filling is frugal . It is made of bamboo shoots and some minced meat . In addition some bits of dried mushrooms and long beans are added to add weight to the filling. I rather think that it is on the sweet side. The dough is not fluffy like the Hong Kong dim sum bao or light like the Shanghai bao. The filling can be even just salted vegetables without meat. We used to call the onions in our home made buns as "pretend meat".

Our Foochow bao has a home made texture of its own. The Foochows call the skin "nuong nerng" or  "  giing nung" which can be translated as tangible and soft. Bao skin cannot be "bian" ie flattened. We do not like to bite into nothingness like the texture of some of the locally made bread.

In the final analysis it is hard for any one to pin point exactly what one likes about his or her bao.

I like to have baos brought home by a father for the whole family to share. That makes all the difference .

Baos is what it says....love wrapped up in a dough.

There was a case in Sibu once . A poor Iban father from the ulu was so desperate in getting a bao for his young baby to eat that he simply took one from the shop. In Kapit or Belega he might have been given a free one. In his ignorance he did not know that theft is a very serious crime. He was hauled into the police station nearby and was put in jail for six months! In contrast a bus driver who got a girl killed only paid a fine of RM500 and had his licence endorsed. In this - you can say a bao is more than life.

But then would you give an arm and a leg for a good bao?

22 comments:

Bengbeng said...

i need my arm n a leg to earn a living therefore no to exchange for a big pao haha

Yan said...

I am more than amused while some parts of it touches my soft spot today, CY!

Yan said...

I like bao that is steaming hot and soft! Plain one and put on butter, the dripping butter! It's heavenly - and I remember my mum who made bao kosong!

sintaicharles said...

During my two years as a Form Six student in Kuching, I always went to Hock Hai for its steamed buns. I have never tried the ones in Sing Kwang. I heard from the grapewine that its baos have more gravy.

sintaicharles said...

no, not gravy but fatty meat.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Beng Beng
See that you still have your sense of humour. Keep it up!!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Thanks Phyllis for dropping by. I too love the bao kosong and have lots of butter (actually for a long time we used Daisy margarine) for two reasons - health and economy. But lately we are more in favour of butter.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

We write write many touching stories based on baos....

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Charles - so many people still love Hock Hai baos....I will still eat them...and drink their kopi O kow.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

I must compare the two types of boas next time I go to Kuching and check out their gravy....Will let you know.

Ah Ngao said...

Fook Hai( the signboard writes not Hock Hai but Fook Hai) paos okay rating for me. i quite often take the char siow pao and tao sar pao & off coz, the kopi-o damn nice man..

Ah Ngao said...

oh yes,i missed out something .i ever came across one of my classmate ,jokingly telling another of my classmate(a lady)not to take paos too often becoz of the yeast ,other wise ended up with big "paos" or big breasts. sometime i ponder to myself,why Chinese like to associates paos with breasts...hahaha

Anonymous said...

actually yeast in the pao is good. Yeast contains lots of vit B complex!!

Ah Ngao said...

Yeast may cause some people to bloat

Ann said...

you brought e back to Primary school. 10 cts for one CHAI PAU.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao..yes the kopi o of F H...very good. I think they roast at the back of their shop.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao...I think it is not just the Chinese want to associate paos with Bxxx...all men?

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Anonymous...some people can tolerate yeast...some cannot. Thanks.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao...Many people when they eat carbo and yeast ...they bloat and have wind expulsion too often.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann...I loved those Chai Pau...and only 10 cents too.

Anonymous said...

nice and famous big pau

Anonymous said...

I miss the original taste of coconut pau which consist of just yeast and flour and was sold for just 10 cents in the golden old days. Anyone care to share the recipe if you have. I tried to make but the yeast taste is too strong.