December 27, 2014

Sibu Tales : Angkoo Kuih, from Fujian to Sarawak

Xiamen is the home of the Angkoo according to some famous food writers. But the Putien people also claim that Ang Koo actually originated in the Henghua counties (Sien Yiu and Putien). But to day with great communications and transport, we can easily accept the fact that Ang Koo Kuih come from the Fujian Province, because all the Fujianese can now make it well, including the Foochows.

However this is one of the stories of the origins of the ang koo kuih. In ancient times the Chinese would offer live turtules as moon cakes for rituals during the Moon Cake festival. And as turtles were not easy to obtain, chefs began to make cakes with a turtle back imprint to represent the turtles in the rituals. Thus Red Turtle Cake was born. Ang Koo Kuih is Hokkien. The Foochows call it Ern Goo Gui..

My first taste of Ang Koo Kuih actually was in Sibu and it was made by a Foochow family. Later, I met my Heng Hua neigbhour in Sg. Merah and she told me the stories of her family's ang koo, from China.

Xiamen as a city in South China is vibrant and forward looking. One street has delightful monuments to its culture and people. Even the Angkoo moulds form a nice tourist attraction. This is my photo of the three angkoo moulds of Xiamen taken some time ago.

In Sarawak, besides the Chinese the Malays and the Ibans also make this famous kuih for home and family or for sale at the market. We do not have yet a single outlet just selling ang koo kuih.

The skin of the kuih is made from sweet potatoes and the filling is usually a sweet one, which may be soy bean paste, or lotus paste, or even pea flour.

When serving ang koo at any function , the kuih usually symbolises long life because the mould  has the turtle shell design.

When most party goers cannot reach the main table where food is displayed a gracious church friend with a tray of ang koo is so welcoming. this is what outreach is all about. When the general public cannot get into the inner circle, or the centre of the party, a kind server brings the food to them.

This reminds me of the days when small churches did not have loudspeakers and the church goers standing outside the packed church could not hear the good news..How could those standing outside hear the words from the pastors?

The Pastors would visit them in the farm and share their sermons again. this kind of caring was shown in the more ulu Rajang Valleys and the Good News thus travelled far into the swamps and the rubber gardens.Reverend Ting Siew Chey, Reverend Lau Ngo Kee and Rev Ho Siew Leong are some names we can remember. They were the pastors when we were kids.

The seeds were sown and today many of the farmers and their children are fervent Methodists and Christians because of the hardwork of their pastors who, often walked barefooted to the farms.

Praise God.


Anonymous said...

Didnt know the skin is made of potato flour. Any other thing added beside potato flour?

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

when I was growing up in Sibu, I lived among Foochows, henghua , Malays, Ibans. On festive days, we gave each other our Kuihs, the Henghua family gave us Ung Ku Kuih on every festival. The Foochow family never did, they gave Foochow kuih. We kids were ungrateful, Ung Ku Kiuh again. We associated it with the Henghuas.

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