January 8, 2018

Sibu Tales : Foochow " Wo gui"

My mother was a busy mother, having to cook after children who were born two or three years apart. Besides she had very very difficult pregnancies. As a result of her poor health also for many years, my grandfather who was very understanding did not let her look after our great grandmother, a duty she would love to commit to.
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During the first few years of her marriage, my mother did look after our great grandmother. During that period, she made many Foochow kuihs for her grandmother in law, who was a small eater but very interested in having small kuihs every now and than. One of her favourites was Wo Kui or Steamed Taro Cake. She was considered an "older bride" because she was then 24 years old, having avoided getting married during the Japanese Occupation. She lived through the war dressed as a boy whenever possible.

Whenever my mother could get hold of some Bilong Wo (Pinang Taro), she would dice the taro (1 1/2 bowls) and have it steamed. While the taro was being steamed, she would chop some shallots and soak 1/2 bowl of dried shrimps (the more the better). She will then fry the shallots and dried shrimps and then add the steamed mashed taro. Some water would be added. Add one bowl of rice flour and 2 bowls of water. Finally add some white pepper. (All these are rather approximate).

the soft dough would be then steamed in a tray for about 45 mins.

To this day my mother's wo kui is still the best. She would tell us never to be short of dried prawns and ikan bilis in the cupboard.

1/2 bowl of pinang taro
1 bowl rice flour
2 TB wheat flour
2 bowls water
1/2bowl dried shrimps
5 shallots, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
some white pepper
some pork crackles crushed
some chillies (pounded roughly)
some cooking oil to be added to the batter

deep fried shallots
spring onions, sliced finely
red chillies, sliced finely
dried shrimps, chopped finely and fried till crispy

Steam the taro while getting all the ingredients together. The batter is usually fairly thick and pasty when mixed with the mashed taro.

Steaming usually takes 45 minutes (the whole kitchen is so fragrant that you think a festival is going on!!)

This is how I feel whenever my mother makes wo gui. Eating kuih means celebrating a festival. Legacies must be passed on.

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