Posts Tagged ‘hakka pounded tea rice’

Kuching has transformed quite tremendously since our previous trip in 2008! The newest shopping mall then was The Spring at Kenyalang Park. Now there were several malls burgeoning the city ~ Plaza Merdeka, CityOne Megamall, Hills Shopping Mall, Boulevard Shopping Mall, Green Heights Mall, etc. All those were new to me when I was back in Kuching last month! With Kuching slowly becoming a concrete jungle, my geography of the city has gone a bit haywire.

We were really fortunate to have a reliable and faithful chaufeuress in the person of my younger sister. Thanks, sis for showing us around and the fact that you took leave from Day 1 of our stay in Kuching, made our trip remarkably easy and comfortable.

Save the Best for Last?

Our ETD was in the evening of 27th Aug. I told my Mum and sisters that ~ as far as possible ~ we wanted to stay away from ‘heavy’ meals at least one day before our departure to avoid embarrassing moments while flying. It wasn’t easy for the boys to shun good foods everyday, so they ended up having a rather heavy porky dinner at Oinks! the night before. My older son was techinally knocked out (TKO) after the heavy, slap up oinky dinner. He slept through the entire morning the next day (our last day in Kuching!!). So did my younger son. LOL!

At around noon on the day of our ETD, my younger sis drove us ~ hubby and I ~ excluding the boys around a residential area. I had absolutely no clue where my sister was bringing us to. We thought she wanted to stop by at her colleague’s house, and yes, she did stop, only to find a parking spot in front of a rather hustle & bustle looking private open car porch smack in the centre of a residential area at Pisang Road West!

  
 

It was a double~storey corner unit terrace house, with red lanterns and fake fire crackers dangling as decorations in the open car porch. Wasn’t Chinese New Year celebrated in February? I was curious. My sis didn’t say a word..

The spiked gates were wide open, beckoning us to walk into the open car porch. Then I noticed the familiar sight. I almost screamed with elation! My sister had saved the best for last! She brought us to lunch one of my favourite local dishes ~ Hakka pounded tea rich or more popularly known as Lui Cha (Fon).

Lui = Pounded or crushed

Cha = Tea

Fon = Rice

  
 

The owner and chef are a husband-and-wife team. I would not have believed the long-haired, biker/rocker-look Mr Lee was the chef! He certainly cooked up a jolly tasty Lui Cha Fon!

   
  

By the way, it was the first time my hubby tasted Lui Cha. His first impression was “Yuck! Green soup with rice and toppings! What the heck am I eating?!” And boy, was he in for a surprise! He had to eat his own words because he actually finished everything! He said the lunch was a discovery for him. He didn’t like the first spoonful but the taste slowly became more and more favourable. It was definitely an acquired taste.

   
  

And we licked our bowls completely clean! Yummy!

Verdict: We ordered the regular bowl at RM5 which I regretted at hindsight! I should have ordered the BIG bowl at RM6! It was a light vegetarian dish. Mr Lee and his wife served the Lui Cha with brown rice garnished with 6 “treasures” (cangkuk manis, long beans, chai por, tau hu, Chinese cabbage and roasted peanuts) which was one treasure shy of my Homemade Lui Cha Fon from scratch 😜

Homemade Lui Cha Fon from scratch by yours truly! 🙂

 

7 “treasures” accompanying my homemade Lui Cha Fon

 
 

Honestly speaking, the fact that my Ang Moh  (Caucasian) husband was able to finish the entire bowl showed that the Lee’s Lui Cha Fon was not done the authentic and classical or traditional way which would be a lot more bitter and bland. The Lee’s pounded tea rice was lightly enhanced which complemented the tasty minty tea soup. That’s the twist and they played their cards well (commercially).  They have converted many Lui Cha haters to lovers with their tasty Lui Cha Fon.

And please don’t forget to try their coconut jelly for RM 2 a pot. It was cool and refreshing. Perfect while waiting for your hot tea rice to be served or superb as dessert. Forget about coming after 1.30pm. The Lee’s are opened for business from 10 am to 2pm only from Mon to Sat.

FYI, I will definitely go back there for the BIG bowl. I have warned my sis 😜
 

Cheers!

Lui Cha Fon,  Lei Cha Fan… whatever, but I’ll stick to my guns. It’s Lui Cha Fon for me as it was the word I first heard eons ago! It’s how the Kuching Ho Poh Hakka people called this dish …

Total Recall 

You see we used to live next door to a Ho Poh Hakka family. The patriarch and matriarch, Mr and Mrs C had 14 children!

When Mrs C was carrying her 14th child, her eldest daughter was pregnant with her first-born son ~ in exactly the same year! A big family meant more mouths to feed…

I remembered Mrs C used to cook huge amounts of foods, simple but nutritious and on very tight budget.

Even with their frugal meals, the friendly matriarch would sometimes share a portion of her cooking with us. Although my Mum used to decline her offers, Mrs C always insisted.  One of the most standout dishes was the odd and murky looking green soup with rice served with 7 components of fresh and preserved vegetables and roasted peanuts.  She told my Mum that that was a Traditional Hakka dish. Luckily, my Mum loved trying new things and that was the best opportunity for her to try out a very typical Hakka dish. 

One afternoon after school, Mum gave me a bowl of rice garnished with the “7 treasures” with another bowl of green soup at the side.  Honestly speaking, the green soup looked revolting and tasted like muddy and bitter water.  The rice with the 7-treasures were alright.  The thing was, I had to pour the green soup in the bowl of rice and eat it like a soupy rice with vegetables. 

My first spoonful was like … Yucks! Well I was only 14 then and that was my honest feedback.  Sorry, Mrs C ..

It was not the first time Mrs C shared that dish with us. After several tries, my teen-aged palate grew to like the soupy green tea rice.

I’m glad my Mum learnt the technique of making Lui Cha  from the ever-smiling Mrs C. She did make a few times tweaking the dish with more flavours by including fried anchovies.

And believe you me, I have been craving for Lui Cha Fon – literally translated as pounded or crushed tea rice – ever since 😄

  
D.I.Y Thunder Tea Rice

Yup, it’s sometimes called “thunder tea” rice, although I’m not particularly sure why. Could it be the sounds of the grinding of the tea, herbs, nuts and seeds from the special ceramic mortar? The pestle, by the way, is made from the wood of the guava tree.  I don’t have these special Lui Cha pestle and mortar, hence, improvisation is key.

I resorted to using my electric hand mixer, instead, however, the biggest challenge was to find the right vegetables, which are usually chai sim, long beans, mani chai, 4-angled beans, kai lan and chai por. 

My version as follows inspired by Mrs C and my Mum’s addition of the extra umami flavour.

Note my ingredients were purely guesstimated, for 4 portions.

Pounded ingredients (Note I ground these ingredients with my electric hand mixer to form a thick paste or pesto-like consistency)

  

  • Loose-leaf Tung Ting Oolong tea
  • Roasted peanuts
  • White sesame seeds
  • Pine nuts 
  • Flax seeds
  • Roughly chopped mint
  • Roughly chopped basil
  • Roughly torn coriander
  • 1 clove garlic (not pictured)
  • Fried anchovies (in lieu of salt)

  

Cooked Rice

My choice of 7-treasure ingredients (Note each component was stir-fried / roasted separately)

  

  • French beans
  • Pek chai
  • Tofu
  • Spinach
  • Chai Por
  • Fried anchovies
  • Roasted peanuts 

Assembling Lui Cha Fon


 

  1. Take 2 Tbsp of the pounded tea paste in a bowl. Pour boiling water. This is your tea soup base.
  2. In another bowl, scoop a portion of cooked rice. Garnish with the 7  cooked veg – fresh and preserved and the roasted peanuts and fried anchovies 
  3. Ready to eat! Note how you want to eat is up to you, ie, by eating the rice and soup separately OR pouring the tea soup into the rice. I ate how I was first being introduced to this dish ~ the latter, of course *big smile*

   

   
Mang-mang sit! An ho sit oh! 😄

Verdict:

It was hard work washing, peeling, cutting, chopping and cooking the vegetables separately.  I understand now why this dish was originally served during the Chinese Lunar New Year by the Hakka clan when all the ladies would assemble together in the kitchen helping with the tedious kitchen preps. Unfortunately, I was alone in my kitchen, hence, I made the 4 portions for myself ~ Day 1’s lunch and dinner and Day 2’s lunch and dinner. LOL! I started my prep work at 11am and the final dish was ready by 1.30pm (including taking photographs… Ha ha…).  Note I purposely made this dish for myself because I foresaw my 3 carnivores would complain if I were to serve the dish as their main course. I was extremely pleased with the result, seeing that it was the first time I had a go in making the infamous Lui Cha Fon from scratch ~ finally! Yay! I was doubly contented with the taste. It was so closed to the best Lui Cha Fons I had in Kuching. The slightly bitter, herbal and minty taste of the green tea soup was spot on for me. No salt, please as the salty anchovies made a world of difference in the tea soup. The umami flavour was a double oomph! The chai por (preserved dried radish) and extra garnishing of the fried anchovies made great natural enhancers. It’s an absolutely LOVELY dish. I wish I could eat it everyday but the only stumbling block were the tedious preps 😦

I have used loose-leaf Oolong Tea in this recipe. For this, I’m linking this post at Little Thumbs Up (July 2015 theme: TEA) organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite DIY, and hosted by Cheryl of Baking Taitai.
 
Have a Great Week!

Cheers!