Monday, December 25, 2006

Food - Sarikei Kopi and Ang Ku Kueh

Sarikei Methodist Church - Jan 2006


M
erry X'mas! X'mas is not celebrated in a big commercial way in Sarikei. You don't see many fake X'mas trees with cotton wool as snow. Gift exhange is not common even among Christian families. At the compound of Methodist Church, St. Anthony's Church and another suburbian church (St. Martin's?), there's typically a X'mas lighted "stable" showcasing Mary, Joseph, the three wise men and baby Jesus in a manger. In the 70's, just about every year there was a small X'mas procession with floats by St Anthony's and/or Methodist Church through downtown Repok Road.


Sarikei Kopi takeaway and Ang Ku Kueh - 2006
Figure out how the string was tied to the tin.


Who cares about X'mas goodies like egg nog and log cake when you have local kopi (coffee) and ang ku kueh (red tortoise cake)? The advantage of using a recycled milk tin is that you can take away ultra hot kopi which a plastic bag can't manage.

In the 60's-70's, it's common to see people roasting coffee beans in a metal drum rotated over fire in the back lanes of the shops. Sarikei kopi is mixed with thick, sweet condensed milk because in the old days, fresh milk was unheard of and this continues to be a local favourite despite the abundance of fresh milk now.


Traditional kopi cup and saucer


Now for local kopi-speak below. Move over StarBucks.
  • Kopi = Coffee with condensed milk
  • Kopi-ben = Iced Kopi
  • Kopi-C = Coffee with evaporated milk
  • Kopi-C-ben = Iced Kopi-C
  • Kopi-O = Black (in Hokkien) coffee with sugar
  • Kopi-O-kao = Thick (in Hokkien) black coffee a la expresso
  • Kopi-O-ben = Iced Kopi-O
  • Kopi-O-kosong = Black kopi without sugar (kosong = empty in Malay)
  • Kopi-O-kosong-ben = Don't drink kopi if you can't figure this out!

Ang ku kueh
is of Hokkien origin (there's also a Nonya version). It gets its name from its red tortoise shape which signifies longevity. The sticky skin is made from glutinuous rice flour. Traditional cakes are steamed because in the old days, no one could afford an electric oven. The most popular fillings are green mung bean and peanuts. Is that a banana leave below the kueh? Buy them from the kueh stalls next to the downtown bus station.

All I want for X'mas is my ang ku kueh.


9 comments:

Kanga said...

My childhood Sarikei X'mas was midnight mass and cycled home 2:00am in darkness through the town and hope not been chased by wild dogs!

Thank you Daniel for the 'Kopi-speak'. I have totally forgotten how to order what I would like whenever back in Sarikei and my friends always have good laughs (no cuppacino here!, hey towkay, price goes up for him! And some old towkay would replied: ah! you are back!)

A cup of kopi-O and a few gongpiangs would beat bacon & eggs for breakfast any day!

burunghelang said...

It's a once a year affair we went to the church and that's to attend the youth fellowship during Christmas where everyone got a 'present' - a clear plastic bag of egg, kuehs and sweets. The message of Christmas (to us) was everyone must get a clear plastic bag of 'presents'. Found a site about the church's history http://www.geocities.com/mtcsarikei/mtchistory4.html by my ex-school-principal.

NUNG said...

Merry Christmas Daniel. The Ang Ku Kueh
looks great. I think those coffee in recycled condensed milk,are better than those in paper/styrofoam cup. Who knows what kind of chemicals are leaching into the hot coffee. Christmas
in general is losing its religious meaning in industrial nations. In Japan and US it is just a chance for people to get together and shop owners to make a few bucks.

Daniel Yiek said...

Kanga,
Sounds familiar...dogs chasing after people after midnight. :)

Traditional kopi has retained its loyal base in M'sia and S'pore due to its nolstalgic taste. Bitter coffee sweetened with condensed milk. There are many modern kopitiams in Msia serving this classic beverage with roti kahwin (kaya sandwich toast).

Burung Helang,
Thanks for the website. I found it before from the Methodist Boys Brigade website. So far Kwang Chien, Methodist and another govt school have websites. If you find any more websites, pls email.

Nung,
Unfortunately for many, Xmas = hols, binge, drink and presents.

JW said...

ha ... let me try.

First, punch a hole in the middle using the eye of the can openner. Then cut along the edges (about 270-300 degree) leaving some edges to hold the lid.

Having a nylon string with a knot of both end, lift/open the lid in vertical mode. Place the lid through the nylon string (with the knot on uncanned edge). Push the nylon string on the other end through the hole (under the lid). Wala ...

I think that's how it's done ... correct me and my description if I'm wrong hehehehe ...

Halamanku said...

Hi there, thanks for visiting my FP, just wondering, how did u found my FP?

Daniel Yiek said...

JW,
Good try. I have never noticed how creative the knot was for the kopi tin all these years until I checked the pic.

Halamanku
Welcome...Found you via google lah.

tuanlokong said...

Just to add in quite long time now the upcoming famous coffee.

1. NesLo - Nescafe' + Milo in one drink try it.

2. Coffee Tongkat Ali - Bitter but smell good especially with condensed milk.

Agatha Anggi said...

Ang Ku Kueh is my favourite kueh too. The Lavender here sell RM1/pc...and much,much smaller too.

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