Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Yew Chang Kuih (Fried Onion Cake)

A good friend of mine took me to Central Market Sibu, recently, to buy Yew Chang Kuih and I managed to take these two photos. The hawker does not use the small enamel bowls. Instead, she is using the stainless steel plates. But the "kuih" are still arranged "face to face" as the photo shows.

My Yew Chang Kuih Story:
Once upon a time, along Blacksmith Road, there was an old lady who carried a tattered rattan basket and a small wooden stool. She had an old and dirty looking towel over her shoulder. Her already thin and greying hair was dressed up in a bun, covered nicely with an antique bone hairpiece. She wore the traditional earrings which marked her as a Hokkien lady.

She was a breakfast lady, selling Yew Chang Kuih, which means rice cake with fried onions and soy sauce.

She would approach you with a small smile which widened if you wanted her kuih.

The rice cake came in a small green bowl, the size of your palm. She would take out a small bowl and invite you to sit on her stool (apparently her market was little children). While sitting down, waiting for your bowl, she would make a few cuts in the rice cake with her little bamboo knife which she will dry and clean with her towel. We would not mind at all how clean or how dirty she was actually because it was the delicious kuih that we wanted to eat. She would then sprinkle some fried onions on top of the criss crossed cuts and splash a bit of soy sauce. And then she would ask, "Chilli sauce"? You would nod and say, "Yes, a little more please....." and point your little finger. And with that additional dash of the chilli sauce, she would add the advice,"Study hard, be someone and don't have a hard life like mine. Like me, I will never be able to go back to China {tui Tiing Sua)"..She would then sigh.

I thought, as a child, she was having a wonderful life, earning so many coins and staying in the "bazaar"! I also could not understand then, why any one would like to go back to China, which was so far away for me.

This small breakfast was 5 cents. I was not yet able to calculate how many dollars she made a day, or discover what her everyday budget was.

I remember that I liked it so much I would want to be the first to be on the road to meet up with her. This went on for the few years I was in primary school.

As as usual as I grew up I left this idea of eating breakfast on the five foot way. And I lost track of the lady vendor. Did she manage to go back to China? I think I will never have the answer to that question. As I never followed up the story of her life in my own busy-ness. Life has its mysteries. And this lady, Yew Chang Kuih lady, is one of my mysterious personalities. I would want to tell her that I worked hard for my education. And that I am still working hard.

Nostalgia brought me back to Sibu to look for this delectable but simpe fare.

Yes, the ambience is gone,although the fried onion cake is still there at the Main Market near the staircase. The vendor is no longer the same kind lady with a lot of advice and gentleness. She did not have a stool for me. She was a little quick tempered.

Food tastes so much better when the heart is in the serving.

9 memories:

Yan said...

I like this post, very much!

You just had another one of the nostalgic journey with Wesleyans, right? I am so happy that we meet together on the roads of our memory.

Someone shared that he wondered how Jesus would entertain the nostalgic feelings as he visited this planet He originally created. He came as a man. He lived and walked among familiar territory. He was no stranger to this earth...

sarawakiana said...

Thank you for stopping by.

Stories filled with nostalgia are usually very readable.

And all of us must grab opportunities to meet up with old friends at reunions.

Joseph was tearful and excited when he saw his brothers coming forward. Naomi and Ruth must have felt tearful too when they arrived "home".

James TC Wong said...

i really miss this kueh...can only find it in Sibu...

sarawakiana said...

I have often wondered why it can only be found in Sibu?

Help! someone!!

Gaharuman said...


Ya, I also wonder hy yew chang kuih can only be found in Sibu!! and it is mostly sold be the Hokkien. I have once asked the Market road yew xhang kuih vendor why it is only found in Sibu and she just kept quite!!!!

sarawakiana said...

Yes, let us do some more research on this special cake.

I would like to get the recipe and know more about Hokkien cuisine.

Free Bird said...

I drooled reading this post.

JC said...

Yeah, I used to eat her Yew Chang Kueh too.
But the last time I was back in Sibu a few months ago, I didn't see her at the night market. Maybe she has gone back to 'China' afterall.

Sarawakiana said...

I am not very sure about the night market yew chang kuih. But definitely you find the stall at the main stair case of the central market.

I understand from several people that yew chang kuih is only found in Sibu. Is that true?


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