Happy Sunday to all!
My late father-in-law was an immigrant from the Fujian (in Mandarin language, with a dialect known as Hokkien) province in China, and he came to work in Malaysia when he was a young man. In those times, there were boats full of Chinese people who came to the South East Asian countries to look for jobs and they came with very little money and belongings. My husband always like to remind our children of the hard but successful life of their paternal grandfather, who at times didn’t have much money to eat and lunch was often just a huge bowl of watery plain, white porridge and a preserved salted plum. He would bite off a tiny bit of the plum and because it was very salty, he has to down a few spoonfuls of porridge.
My husband grew up in a family that has a tradition of having simple lunches consisting usually of plain white porridge together with two or three side dishes like fried fish, pickled lettuce and preserved bean curd. They didn’t have rice for lunch like my family did, and other than porridge, lunch can also be noodles.
As the weather has been extremely hot and humid these few days, having porridge for lunch was ideal and I took some pictures of our typical Hokkien meal to show you. Only thing was I forgot to buy those orange sweet potatoes to add into the porridge today, and so it was just plain white porridge.
A few hundred years ago, sweet potato was brought over from the Philippines and introduced to the Fujuan province in China, where it was planted as a successful crop. Then, when there was a shortage in the supply of rice due to a drought, sweet potatoes (which was a very hardy crop) were added to their watery, plain porridge to make up the bulk.
These days, plain white porridge is usually given to young children, the elderly or convalescents as it is easy to eat and digested. There is another popular version of white porridge known as Teochew (another province in China) Porridge which has more water in it and the rice grains are not as soft as the Hokkien type.
My husband loves this porridge so much that he will have a huge bowl of this
I had some Red Snapper fish steaks frying in a skillet. They are served with some of the leftover oil and a good splash of good quality soy sauce. Fried fish is everyone’s favourite dish to go with their porridge.
A very typical Hokkien accompaniment to porridge – Preserved Radish Omellete a.k.a. “Chye Poh N’ng” in the Hokkien dialect, or “Choy Poh Tan” in the Cantonese dialect. A must-have.
Crispy fried small salted fish, with some sprinkles of sugar. Small bites of salted fish are taken with each spoonful of porridge. My youngest son’s favourite with his porridge.
I like to have a vegetable dish as well and this is a simple stirfry of French Beans and julienned Carrot with Soft Tofu slices.
A small bowl of braised, soft peanuts
Some pickled lettuce
A 1-inch piece of Fermented Beancurd, known as “Tau Khiam” in Hokkien. As it is very salty, we would just take a pinch of it to go with each spoonful of porridge.