When I write about any particular dialect group’s food, I like to pretend that I do intensive and intimate research about their culture in order to give them the respect they so deeply deserve.
I find that when you appear to be profound and cerebral, people take you and whatever shit that you make up seriously. They don’t realise that you have been dropped on your head as a child many times by your parents (sometimes intentionally just to get a few laughs).
It goes without saying that this blog contains a lot of drivel and baloney I studiously make up. I make up wanton outrageous stories and create imaginary wurds.
If and when I do any research whatsoever, it is usually for low brow matters like boogers and stuff. I get quite dogged in the research only if I can dig out something to make fun of one of the dialect groups, and appear smurt aleckish and brainiakili about it.
By virtue of the icy stares and hisses I have been getting, I think I may have been fairly successful so far in offending the major dialect groups in Singapore. So when it came to the Hakkas, I was resolved to be equally offensive and flippant.
I started with the doyen of all mensa like research – wikipedia, and started reading about the Hakkas.
Within minutes, I passed out because, and I say this hand on arse in the nicest way possible, the Hakkas appear to be the blandest group in the history of mankind, much like their food.
They seemed to have come out of nowhere and settled down nowhere in particular.
What struck and impressed me was that much of what was written about them is not about who or what they were, but about what they were not, or had not managed to achieve:
Migrants were referred to as Hakka and no specific people were referred to as Hakka at first.
Unlike other Han Chinese groups, the Hakkas are not named after a geographical region, e.g. a province, county or city
“Historically, Hakka women did not bind their feet when the practice was commonplace in China”
When the Hakka expanded into areas with pre-existing populations in the South, there was often little agricultural land left for them to farm. As a result, many Hakka men turned towards careers in the military or in public service. Consequently, the Hakka culturally emphasized education, however this is by no means unique to the Hakkas as most of the other Han Chinese also culturally emphasized education.
It’s like the chaps at Wikipedia had to do research on other dialect groups in China, and just cobbled together what didn’t fit the other groups to make 8000 words to get their monthly words incentive, and called them a silly name – Hakkas.
I tried wikipedia again on friday, passed out and woke up sunday.
To the Hakkas, I apologise wholeheartedly and unreservedly for reducing your brilliant culture to these short points, and I do so purposely only because I resent the bland food you have given us.
It suffices to say that these are the only salient points I could glean from the mass of words I glazed over :
1. Hakkas are not named after a geographical region eg a province, county or city in China unlike the other dialect groups.
A significant number of them have settled in the north east region of Guangdong China (which we all know is where the mafia cantonese woman came from).
2. Modern day Hakkas usually speak the Hakka language (duh).
There is actually no such language.
The Hakkas tried but were just so embarrassed at their utter lack of progress that they started a fictitious language which nobody, including themselves, understand.
Just watch their hands when they speak to each other. They are actually just using sign language surreptitiously.
3. There was a period in time when everyone in China was massacring the Hakkas in droves, because they needed exercise and Hakka food was bland and uninteresting (ok I made the last part up. It’s because the Hakka dudes upset the Cantonese mafia women and one of them used the B**%^ word and the Cantonese woman sent out an edict).
4. Notable Hakkas were Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, China’s Deng Xiaoping and Sun Yat Sen, Taiwan’s Lee Teng Hui and Thailand’s Thaksin Shinawatra.
And a handful of Ah Beng Hakkas in Singapore.
5. Some of them found their way to New Zealand where they taught the indigenous people a dance called “the Hakka”.
The indigenous people learned it, liked it, massacred the Hakkas, and claimed the dance as their own.
6. Their most dramatic food are, in no particular order of silliness – abacus beads, thunder tea rice and yong tau foo.
Yes I know. I shat myself too.
But those are real words.
No I didn’t make this up. One of their star dishes is really called abacus beads.
That’s how low we are starting.
“Abacus Beads, literally Taro Gnocchi, with a dimple in the centre resembles abacus beads shape. This dish has symbolic wealth meaning and Chinese loves to prepare this dish during Chinese New year. When abacus beads stir fried with other ingredients and condiments, the dimple in the middle also helps contain the ingredients that flavour it. This traditional is really delicious. “
This description of Hakka Abacus Beads above is taken verbatim from this article written by a writer called Annelicious (probably single Hakka girl living with 17 cats) who loves the dish so much that she devoted an entire article on this dish.
But she got so bored with this bland dish that she couldn’t finish the description in the last sentence above. Or she just didn’t care because she lost interest, and wanted to rush off to feed her 17 cats.
Taro Gnocchi – yes it’s yam and frigging tapioca flour. That is the height of their gastronomy.
You couldn’t or wouldn’t get off your lazy ass to go hunt something that moves or slithers, and stir fry it with ginger and scallions.
Hakka Dudes, you had thousands of years to do it. What were you doing in between the massacres?
You just stayed home and mixed yam and flour and called it your contribution to Chinese exotic cuisine.
Way to go Hakkas.
And it’s given this fancy name because it resembles real dusty abacus beads.
Just kill me now.
Hakka Thunder Tea Rice
When you have a name such as thunder tea rice – you think Thor God of Thunder, you think extreme culinary beast, unbridled manhood, the wild forces of nature unleashed.
What in God’s name is “Thunder Tea”. ?
Your gonads expand and pulsate. You feel a shiver run past your nether regions and down your spine (if you are not a Cantonese man) uncontrollably.
Then you notice the wurd (literally “a wussy word”) “Hakka” just before the name and you start to worry.
My friends, Hakka Thunder Tea Rice is this:
“Also known as Pounded Tea, the highly-nutritious Thunder Tea Rice is a traditional Hakka dish invented in the Qin Dynasty to energise weak hungry soldiers and fend off diseases during times of war. Containing ingredients such as basil and parsley that were traditionally used to treat ailments, the Thunder Tea Rice is often touted as a health food that is low in calories and high in fibre.“
Chock full of basil, mint, long beans, a whole lot of other greens, peanuts and dried anchovies (ikan bilis). The word “lei” means “grind” in Chinese but, also “thunder”. Traditionally, ingredients for the tea soup was ground up and pounded using a large mortar and pestle which gave the dish its “thunder” moniker. “Cha” on the other hand means “tea”, and refers to the tea soup. However, soup also contains tea, nuts, sesame and herbs like mint and basil, giving it that unmistakable green hue.
It’s basically gross overnight thrice regurgitated bird food that’s what it is.
Yam flour thingy and gross bird food.
Thank you Hakkas.
Is the massacre over or can I join?
Yong Tau Foo
Ok first off – you couldn’t have created a dish that is more ridiculous sounding.
I’m sorry if it’s the name of your Grandfather.
I’m told you buggers are too lazy to even think of new baby names and you have cousins called yong tau, tau foo, foo fighters (some Hakka parents are too lazy to even name their kids individually), Aba lin, Cus Phua or Thunder Tye.
It sounds like someone is trying to take the Mickey out of Asians and make funny sounding groaning noises.
Or sex noises.
“Baby you look so hot in that thing I just want to rip it off and Yong Tau Foo you right now !”
So what in the world is Yong Tau Foo?
This is how Wikipedia the purveyor of all scholarly research describes it:
Yong tau foo (also spelled yong tao foo, yong tau fu, yong tau hu or yong tofu; yentafo in Thailand) is a HakkaChinese cuisine consisting primarily of tofu filled with ground meat mixture or fish paste.
Variation of this food include vegetables and mushrooms stuffed with ground meat or surimi.
Yong tau foo is eaten in numerous ways, either dry with a sauce or served as a soup dish.
Ok get ready Hakkas for the final insult. Hang on to your abacus beads and thunder whatever.
Yong Tau Foo is the most brilliant dish in this world that your sorry souls have created, despite its silly sounding name!
How do I describe one of my favourite foods ?
It is schizophrenic, it is extreme in largesse, it is gonastically ballsy, it is the smorgasbord of a mad scientist, it is the United Nations in full assembly and in session.
Its when you don’t know what your dinner guests want and decided to cobble together the most insane combination of everything you can think about in this world.
It caters to the fatties who loves everything deep fried, crispy and shattering in this world.
And if the deep fried stuff is not enough to kill you, it is eaten with spicy rich sweet chilli sauce and a deep red sweet sauce.
It is frigging the most delicious thing one can conjure up while being massacred intermittently.
Not to be outdone, it can be eaten with lung busting spicy and coconut artery clogging curry.
It is rumoured one Hakka dude saw the blood everywhere during the massacre and conjured up this version.
It can be eaten Soi Cowboy style immersed in tom yam Broth to turn you into an instant ladyboy.
CARRY IT LIKE HARRY
It can be eaten drenched in this disgusting but delicious brown diarrhoea sauce and, just when you thought it was not humanly possible, called an even sillier name like Am Pang Yong Tau Foo.
You can’t make shit like that up.
For the waif like teenage girl who is about to embark on yet again another diet for which we salute you, there is disgustingly healthy food like raw and boiled vegetables just lightly blanched, hold the oil or any taste whatsoever.
It can be served in clear soup boiled usually with yellow soybeans and with as much grass offerings and tofu prepared 47 ways as you want to put into the bowl.
Secret life of fatbacks
Hakkas, you beautiful silly sounding people, you have just united this miserable world.
Suggested places for Yong Tau Foo
It’s not easy finding yong tau foo stalls as the Hakkas move from location to location to avoid being massacred.
But here are some that are still alive:
1. HUP CHONG HAKKA YONG DOU FU
Blk 206 Toa Payoh North, Singapore 31026 | Opening hours: mon-sat: 6.30am-3pm, 5pm-8.30pm
2. GOLDHILL HAKKA YONG TAU FOO
(Multiple branches island wide)
5. XI XIANG FENG YONG TAU FOO
6. YONG XIANG XING DOU FU
7. MY FAVOURITE CAFE
Lucky Plaza, 304 Orchard Road #06-46/47 Singapore 238863 (Orchard Road MRT)
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm (Closed Sun)
Bugis Cube, 470 North Bride Road #02-10 Singapore 18874 (Opposite Bugis MRT)