January 14, 2013

Yiu Char Kui and half shops of Sibu

This is an excellent Chinese breakfast item. Eating with soy bean milk, it is both filling and satisfying. When we were growing up in Sibu, it was the cheapest food our grandparents and parents could bring home from the market. 

The Sibu Shops in the 50's and 60's were rather unusual . Some shops were rented by one business only. However many were rented by two businesses, hence the term, half shop. These half shops were run every day but there is no dividing wall. However when things got bad between the two businesses, a wall would go up.

Now there were some shops there were divided into three, especially those facing the alleys, ie the end shops. Our favourite Tian Bian Hoo shop in Sibu is one example of a shop lot which has three businesses going. In front is the tailor shop and the other half is owned by a goldsmith.

All these partitioning of shops in Sibu was due to the Second Landlord problem in the 1950's. But then it became a very acceptable way of doing business.

Many years ago,several hawkers and shops in Market Road of Sibu made YCK (or yiu tiau) and people had to queue up for them. These would be the biscuit making shops. The big kuali at the front part of their half shop would be heat up to deep fry the YCK as early as 6 a.m. I can still remember the skilled chef using just a piece of small wood to divide the dough into two portions. And when the dough is risen enough the chef would lower the dough into the hot oil. The same method of making continues until today!! Pasar Malam also have hawkers who sell YCK. Many Malays are beginning to sell Cakoi in kampongs and in their shops.

A long time ago each yiu char kui or oil stick was about 10 cents and cut into pieces with a pair of scissors siblings can have lots of share. Today you get 3 for a ringgit depending on the size. The bigger ones are 2 for a ringgit in Miri. Some YCK are harder, some are rather soft. Some have too much bi-carbonate. So one really has to choose your chef carefully. Or you need to ask around for the best YCK in town!!

Today I continue to dip my share into hot sweet kopi-0. Heavenly. And on a rainy day, nothing quite beat this kind of breakfast.

Sourced from Wikipedia is this

"Folk etymology

The Cantonese name yàuhjagwái literally means "oil-fried devil" and, according to folklore, is an act of protest against Song Dynasty official Qin Hui, who is said to have orchestrated the plot to frame the general Yue Fei, an icon of patriotism in Chinese culture. It is said that the food, originally in the shape of two human-shaped pieces of dough but later evolved into two pieces joined in the middle, represents Qin Hui and his wife, both having a hand in collaborating with the enemy to bring about the great general's demise. Thus the youtiao is deep fried and eaten as if done to the traitorous couple. In keeping with the legend, youtiao are often made as two foot-long rolls of dough joined along the middle, with one roll representing the husband and the other the wife."

Nowadays if we buy a packet of this cakoi (Malay word), our children would be most happy. Somehow this simple item can still top KFC or Pizza.

Sharing food at home is still the best way of communicating love and care in the family.


wenn said...

my boy sure loves it!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Yes indeed Yenn. We all love it..thanks.

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid, I love to dip it inside a cup of hot-milk tea. The taste was so yummy that I find it hard to resist!

Anyways, here is a website link that I would like to share with you. Its a glimpse of Sarawak and I think you should try it out when you plan out for your next trip.


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