July 24, 2011

Hua Chan Soy Sauce Made in Miri.......

During my childhood we enjoyed having homemade soy sauce made by my China born grandmother (Lian Tie or Mrs. Lau Kah Chui). We also enjoyed having her fermented brown beans which she would dig from her black earthern jars. Life was simple as we had so many home made preserved condiments made by her. Thinking of the old days recently I successfully made my own preserved brown beans using her recipe.

My paternal grandfather's Sungei Merah (Sibu) home was sited next to a soy sauce factory belonging to the late Mr. Wong Cheng Ang (of the first Foochow communist fame). As kids we used to visit his factory and we used to pretend that we were shaolin swords men and women looking for revenge....We even managed to hide behind some of those huge urns. Later when Mr. Wong went into the jungle to fight his guerrilla warfare his stressed up wife had to close the factory and lived elsewhere. We literally saw the factory being torn plank by plank by day light robbers. I was too young also to remember who took the urns away. But my relatives said that probably the neighbours but it was definitely not my own relatives (smile).

It was a sorry sight actually to see the derelict soy sauce factory the following years. Today a huge road has been built right over the factory site and in fact their original can no longer be seen. I always wonder if the family was ever compensated for the requisition of the land.....

Years alter I came across Hua Chan Soy Sauce Factory in Miri all my memories came back. Recently I visited its new factory in Senadin and was given a wonderful tour by the younger owner.

The smells of fermented soy beans are exactly as I remember And memories of my childhood came back. Shadows of the past danced before me as I went from vat to vat and from one section to another other!!

A nice view of the covers of the vats.
Side view of the vats
Yellow beans after being cooked.
Front view of the Hua Chan Sauce Factory Office.

the management of this factory is modern and visitors are welcome to visit the factory outlet. A tour can be organised by its pretty marketing manager (Karen). It is delightful to know that school children have visited this factory very often and especially at the end of the year. I hope one day tourists would also make the factory one of their destinations.....

Soy sauce is such an important part of our Chinese food history and cuisine. I am glad I have a grandmother who taught me how to make our own soy sauce from yellow beans. She not only taught me good lessons but she helped create good memories for my siblings and I.

It is nice to know that a factory in your own city can produce high quality soy sauce using very high stands of production (ISO).

And you know what? The young proprietor also calimed that it was his grandmother who initiated the Hua Chan soy sauce making in their family and set if off their their family business in Lorong 7 in Krokop. (Krokop Miri is the birthplace of many family businesses. And today Krokop has become quite a heavy industrial area.). Later his grandfather must have perfected the recipe(s) with his grandmother by trial and error. And his father was the only one interested in carrying on the business with great enthusiasm. Today the business is in the hands of the third generation and is still growing fast..

(P/s to know more about the company and their products there is one business CD given out by the company officially whenever visitors come around ).


Ann said...

my cousin Catherine's maternal grand father had a small soy sauce factory. Her uncle went to Singapore and didn't want to continue this cottage industry. I remember the disused vats, May be in Kwong Tung Bar, people didn't "help to demolish" the factory. Rather, they were the last house of civilisation ( according to us), nobody would want to steal a few giant vats and have to hail the boats to transport them.

Ask your young proprietor what he meant bu his claim? The Chinese had been "drinking" soya years for millions of years. It stopped in my family cos the husband and son think there are too much preservatives. LOL

Ann said...

I am going back to your post on express boats, in case you go go back to that post.

I was told there was a head on collision of one going up to Kapit, and one down.

Do you know?

sintaicharles said...

Interesting post.
A Penangite lady taught me how to make fermented soy beans in 2006. I tried out the recipe but my beans got mouldy.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann...so there was more than one soy sauce factory in Sibu in the 1950's then!! Pardon me...I am a bit too parochial..knowing about my small "corner" of the world.. Does the Cantonese community have a good historical record of the settlement of your people in Sibu and its vicinity?
I have edited my post and some of the statements...Thanks for pointing it out to me...

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann...about the express collision...has there been one recently?
There was one strange express boat incident in Bintulu...this express boat hit an underwater cable which was pulled by a tug boat. The express capsized and sank...many lives were lost!! Sometime last year.

The owners(both parties) etc were not too apologetic...Some politicians came out to explain...but deaths had occured and it was tragic...People forgive.

Sarawakiana@2 said...


Anonymous said...

i wonder is the fibre urn got any adverse effect on the soya sauce. last time they use clay urn,right?
- Ah Ngao

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Charles...I think the way to do the beans is to add more salt (which will prevent moulds from growing). I wrapped my beans in one old sarong (I wonder if that is the pantang)and one layer of clean white cloth to provide the heat. Cover tight in a jar so that no moulds would grow and no flies would get in....

Anonymous said...

I am a Kuching Teochew and my older folks made 'bean sauce' from soy bean in the 1960s.
I remember they purposely introduce mould !,
apparently mould give it a special flavour.
never did me any harm, but the smell of mouldy beans on round-bamboo trays is something you need to get used too.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao..I have to ask Mr. Luk again..but I wonder whether he would give me an answer for that!!

These fibre vats have been around for many years... Yes they originally used ceramic urns..(ung)

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi my Teochew friend from Kuching...I am happy you wrote in. Yes if you make bean sauce the top layer of the sauce would be covered with a white film and all you have to do is to shake the urn and the film will "drop" down to the bottom.

So I am wondering if this kind of mould is the same as the Belgian mould which makes Belgian beer so fantastic.

I am not really an expert in moulds ...just commenting. Your grandparents may know a thing or two more than us!!

Sarawakiana@2 said...


Ann said...

My Mum's MEAN SEE aka bean paste was the best ( I claim, lol) when she went to live in Australia, she continued to make them.

I remember the white mould.

Sadly my husband is adverse to anything preserved. I occasionally buy some made in you know where, and eat it by myself. I still have two salted eggs my Taiwanese friends gave me sitting on the door of my fridge, and had been queried so many times,

why did you buy them?
I didn't buy them.given by our friend,
Why you don't throw them out? more than 6 months old.
You don't throw good food
why you don't eat them?
You won't allow,
Why waste space in the fridge?
I wait till my friends come, then I serve them.
You will kill your friend with old salted eggs,
Salted eggs won't go bad.

hehehe, may be when you come, CY, I will serve them to you.

Ann said...


The collision happened between 1975-2000, my Dad told me but I don't have details.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think the accident happened some where near Kanowit. There was a teacher from Sibu teahcing in Kanowit trapped in the overturned express. Very sad.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Ann...I have done the same thing to the salted eggs. But for another reason. I had wanted to save the salted eggs for a special recipe and then forgot about them (6 in all) and after several months they were quite dried up and"empty"....I felt so bad losing such a treasure!! I am looking forward to your salted eggs!!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann..There were several river express tragedies..And the newspapers did have some good articles..but really people never learn...even with a Good Sarawak River Management Board.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Thanks Anonymous...the story of the teacher trapped in the express must have been horrific to both family and school!! So sad.

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