January 17, 2012

Stories of Duck Eggs from Wong Su Lai (Ensurai of Sibu)

This is a plate of fried duck egg kwei tiau and the photo triggered my mum to tell stories  of her life in Ensurai from the time she was born until she moved away from the big mansion to live in Nang Chong. Her siblings (children of Lau Kah Chui) and her cousins (children of Lau Kah Tii) enjoyed good duck eggs from their ducks. Each family kept coops to ensure that their ducks lay enough eggs for the family. (Photo by Sarawakiana)

This Duck Egg Fried Kwei Tiau is available at Restaurant Gembira in Taman Megah opposite Ming Tien.This is in Kuala Lumpur. I do not think duck egg fried kwei tiau is available in Miri . Pirce per plate in KL=  @RM5.50.

Between 1926 and 1938 my mother (Lau Hung Chuo) and her parents (Mr and Mrs. Lau Kah Chui) stayed in the huge lau Mansion at Ensurai. Her growing up years were sweet and enriching especially when her mother was a good cook and a generous mother and youngest aunt to all. Their stove was always warm and the food safe was always full. Any one passing by or any one coming home from Sibu was able to find a plate of rice and at least two duck eggs for a quick snack!! According to her one whole tin (the bigger biscuit tin or kerosene tin of pickled jelly fish was about $1.20 in the 1920's. Dried scallops were purchased in bulk!! And river snails were so plentiful that for a few cents only they could have enough for two meals and for more than 12 people!! Today we could find only a few snails at a time amongst the mangrove roots. In those days a hardworking young girl could easily pick up hundreds or a pail in an hour!! River snails could be stir fried in soy sauce or boiled in soup with a dash of pepper and a few spoonful of Foochow red wine.

My grandmother (Tiong Lian Tie) was a good duck rearer. And because she fed her ducks well they laid a lot of eggs to the envy of many neigbhours. Besides whenever a child had measles she was ever ready to slaughter a  very mature female Mallard as post measle treatment . Double boiled duck soup which according to Foochow beliefs can even remove the last virus from the internal organs of a child thus making him or her fully cured is highly prized today..The Foochows have always favoured double boiled Chai Ark Moh soup for the weak and sickly. Today the bottled Teal Essence is actually based on this theory.

My mother remembers my grandmother as a very enterprising and hardworking Foochow woman who loved  rearing  the two kinds of ducks for meat and for eggs. Breeding of ducks was also good for a growing family and lots of relatives who came and went besides putting a lot of good meat on the table during the festive seasons.

 However it was my grand uncle who got the nickname...Moh Moh because he was the owner of so many female ducks in his compound!! Perhaps if you go to Ensurai today in Sibu...people may point out...ok over there used to be the property of Moh Moh...and across the river...was the home of Chui Chui (Water water)..the two brothers were called Moh Moh Chui Chui...it does have a poetic ring in the names for me...and their stories are like songs to my ears!!

Their legacy  lives on in our hearts and minds...

My uncles would tell tales of how my grandmother cooked duck eggs for them when they were hungry. Uncle Pang Sung and Uncle Pang Hung (children of Lau Kah Tii) would never go hungry when my grandmother was around. The table would always be filled with nicely cooked food for the hungry youngsters. Grandmother Lan Tie was a kind relative who loved her children and relatives and with the passing of time it is interesting that they do remember her generosity best of all!!

And in the same way I would always remember my grandmother for her duck dishes. I did not mind plucking all the feathers from the ducks...including tweezing out all the finer downs. Mum would always remember the fragrant duck eggs  which when fried would puff up and cover a whole medium sized plate. Well it has been a long time since we had duck eggs on our own table!!

A very endearing photo of Chai Ark doing the head dipping in water. Only Mallards (Chai Ark) can do this stunt.
These are serati or Pekin ducks which lay very tasty eggs (Photo by Sarawakiana)
Duck eggs are larger than chicken eggs - they are laid by Chai Ark (Vegetable duck)  and Serati (Pekin/muscovy ducks/chuong wang) the half breeds (Buang Wang) do not lay eggs. (Photo from Google) Our families will also remember the good advice from an uncle : the difference between rich and poor only lies in one duck egg.....(Giin boo na char suoh lak ang moh long)

I do hope that these tales of ducks and duck eggs will live in the hearts of my cousins and uncles and aunties who come  from the moh moh chui Chui  and Lau Sing Chiong  bloodlines.



13 comments:

sarawaklens said...

I was just looking at sample photos of a camera and came across that chai ak photo dipping in the water at flickr, how funny that I came over here and saw the same photo again! :)

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Coincidences are hard to explain..and this is across 4800 sq miles..(area of Sarawak)!!!There must be some theory about our interest in photography...and I think it is more than 6 degrees of separation.

The Observer said...

Hi!

I recognise the duck egg kwaytiau and yes it's the yummiest. would like to go back there for another duck kwaytiau fix with my mother and father and order two portions each... i hope you liked what you tried. suggest to your daughters to bring you there again...
but i think the address is a bit wrong it is the restoran gembira, taman megah opposite ming tien.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Observer..my memory is making fun of me. Megah became Mayang (because I was thinking of Mayang Tea ) having come from Sarawak...and then in my excitement the Chinese tomorrow (Ming Tien) became Chinese today (Chin Tien)...thanks for the correction....My errata doesn't mean that my mind is slipping!! Just a slip of tongue may be...cheers.

Ann said...

lol, i was related to your grand ma. I reared ducks and I was very young.

Anonymous said...

Ducks eggs are really good but nowadays we seldom have the chance to eat. And I am not keen on salted eggs...too bad times have changed so much.Thanks for sharing these lovely memories.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann
I am sure in another life in the past you and my grandmother were sisters...and also I am sure you had seen her in Race Course Road. She looked after CChang's children...and later she often stayed in the Hii's residence opposite your house in Embang lane!! She was the small lady with a bun at the nape of her head..and she always wore samfoo....

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Anonymous...yes in Miri we have to make special orders for duck eggs. I have no problems sharing memories with friends and readers...thanks for visiting.

Anonymous said...

ever try goose egg, Sarawakiana ? (i haven't)

Ah Ngao

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao...no..really I haven't tried goose egg or even ostrich egg!!

Ann said...

lol, me and your grandma, LOl. I was goingto ask you about Ah Ping. go to FB msg

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann...I don't seem to have the messages anymore..will try to click here and there again...you can send to my gmail?>

Anonymous said...

are you saying that half breed ducks don't lay eggs??

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