Another tradition handed down from my family’s ancestors is to start the second day of the brand new year with an over abundance of meat for lunch after our vegetarian day!
For the second day of the Chinese New Year, we would usually visit our fifth uncle in Seri Kembangan. Although he is the youngest uncle, the family would gather there as he would prepare a luxurious feast of Hakka dishes which he learnt from his late mother. I was also told that he is the only male in the family that had his mom’s secret Hakka recipes!! J
So after a day of vegetarian fare, I was ready for some glorified wonderland of meat. It’s definitely not an easy task but somehow, this ‘Mm Suk’ or Fifth Uncle always cooked up huge portions of Hakka dishes to feed six families through the whole day. I even tried to learn some recipes but the dishes were always ready when I arrived… sigh... oh well, I guess I will just stick to enjoying them… hehehe!
Secret recipes are meant to be undisclosed! Mm Suk’s Special Sauce is definitely worth the hush-hush. The sauce is absolutely magnificent if I may concur! I tried replicating it but somehow it never tasted the same as this one. The clandestine sauce contained spring onion, shallots, garlic, bird-eye chili, soy sauce and etc. Flavors are aromatic from the bulbs and heady from the soy sauce while bird-eye chilies pack quite a punch. The version this year had the addition of spring onions but minus the coriander and was even better than last year.
A simple boiled chicken is a requirement in this Hakka household and every year, Mm Suk would change the types of chicken depending on the availability. This year we had a lovely big Kampung Chicken with a nice yellow skin. Last year, we had a luxurious ‘Yim’ or Castrated Chicken which cost a bomb… read that here!
Pairing up both chook and sauce was simply a match made in heaven!! Comfort food and was certainly the first dish to be polished off by us because of the awesome sauce… J
I was told that soup is another must-have in this Hakka household. Being Hokkien intermixed with Nyonya, my family does not focus much on soup in our meals. When I knitted myself into the Hakka clan, only then I began to really enjoy the importance of a great soup.
Fish Maw with Pig Stomach Pepper Soup was quite similar to my mom’s Pig Stomach soup minus the fish maw. I do have to say this one fare different in flavors as the abundance of fish maws does add a flavor of the sea to the spicy pepper soup. Needless to say, I downed two rice bowl of this luscious peppery broth that day!
Hakka Cha Yuk is heavily popular and despite the many ones I have tasted, everyone seemed to taste a little different in flavors. The recipe calls for advance treatment as the flavors taste better the next day after it has been braised. The dish is aromatized by five-spice powder and fermented beancurd and pork belly is used for extra flavors while black wood ear fungus added the crunch. My mother-in-law makes a mean version of this which I really like so this version was only average for me… however; I still salute Mm Suk for going through the trouble to make a big batch of this all-time favorite Hakka dish just for us… J
A luxurious Braised Sea Cucumber, Fish Maw, Chicken Feet and Mushroom were added to this year’s feast. The dish was overloaded with the sea treasures while the chicken feet added the gelatinous touch to the gravy. The fish maw here looked different as it is the non-fried version. Lots of wobbly textures in this one while the savory gravy had an almost sticky consistency to it. Not my cup of tea though…
I also never knew of arrowroot or ‘Nga Ku’ till I was introduced to it a few years back. The Hakka clan of mine loves to Stir-Fry Nga Ku with Pork Belly with either leeks or spring onions. During this festive season, this dish will always make an appearance on feast from every relative of mine. I have also learnt the recipe from my mother-in-law so there is a benchmark already fixed in my head for this dish. The one here fare pretty good although it may not be the best-looking in appearance.
Ok… apparently vegetables are not seen during this meal except for Chinese lettuce as this meal was suppose to showcased the over abundance of meat to signify properity. However, there is one universal Malaysian Chinese dish that seems to sprout out especially during festive seasons. Kiam Chye Buay is a myriad of mish-mash of leftovers all ingenious boiled with preserved vegetable or ‘Kiam Chye’ to magically transform leftovers to an irresistible dish! The version here is contributed by my mother-in-law who makes a super spicy and sour Kiam Chye Buay. I could never resist this as I love sour and spicy flavors. On the other hand, my mom makes a sour version without the spicy flavors. Both taste completely different! I am sure you all have your favorite mom’s recipe that you favor!!
I am no maven in Hakka cuisine but I really enjoy the flavors of the dishes. The meal we savored on the second day drives the significant tradition of cooking from the heart! Nothing beats soul food… Thank you Mm Suk!! J
What’s your Favorite Hakka dish?