Saturday, June 30, 2007

Food - Sarikei Kom Pia

Zhuori kom pia shop.
Owner: Lee Kwong Tai
Tel +6010 520 7786 or +6010 546 2992
Nyelong River Market.
(Update: Moved to the back of Block 4 Right Repok Road)

Sarikei Kom Pia 2007
Source: Ling Chin Ming

ne of Sarikei's local specialities is the kom pia (光餅). According to legend, kom pia was the brainchild of a general Qi Ji Guang (戚繼光) who strung a couple of kom pias through a string that was worn across the chest of his soldiers. This was to replenish energy from the high carbohydrate content during long battles. What if the enemy cut off the string of kom pias? Well, use the string of kom pias to whip the enemy. (ok, just kidding on the whipping part).

General Qi Ji Guang 戚繼光 was not a Foochow but a northerner commissioned by the emperor of the Ming Dynasty明朝 to the Foochows to rid the areas of the Japanese pirates and invaders. He also ordered the people there to plant banyan trees in Foochow city. Hence the city is called city of Banyan 榕城 Foochows people 榕籍 and Foochow Dialect New 榕語新聞.

Sarikei Kom Pia 2007
Source: Ling Chin Ming

The kom pia shops in the 1960-70s were at San Hing (三興) pastry shop at No.6 Wharf Road and the favourite Mei Hua (美華, correct?) pastry shop at 35 Repok Road opposite the former Ngee Hing (藝興) kopitiam at 36 Repok Road. Both have retired their business. Now there are 2 kom pia shops at the row of new shops parallel to the Nyelong River esaplanade near the Nyelong River ferry crossing. Both are popular and usually sold out by noon. They also supply to kopitiams (coffeeshops).

Sarikei Kom Pia 2006
Source: Cybreed

The pictures show the process of one of the shops but does anyone know the recipe for making kom pia?
  • Picture 1: The assembly line: Wheat flour was mixed with water to knead into dough. One person made the balls of dough. Another flattened the balls, added sesame seeds (if needed) and made a hole in the middle to facilitate even baking (since the middle would cook last).
  • Picture 2: Then the kom pias were stuck into the walls of charcoal oven.
  • Picture 3: A man used a blower (circled) to fan the charcoal. 

Sarikei Kom Pia 2006
Source: Cybreed
  • Picture 4: After 10mins, the kom pias were cooked. The man used a chisel like tool to scrap the kom pias onto a net like tool and dropped them into a basket. The black clipper like tool was for turning the charcoal.

Sarikei Kom Pia 2005
Source: Chen

The final master pieces look like the New York bagel but this are our Foochow original. The ones on the left with sesame seeds are salty and harder. The ones on the right are sweet and fluffy (called chu nu piang in Foochow). In the 70s, the sweet version had light flour dusted on it. There was no sesame version. The bland to slightly salty version was simply hard and chewy.

Sarikei Kom Pia 2007
Source: Sarikei Spaces

The kom pia had a humble beginning of been just plain carbohydrate during the impoverished days in China. Later it became comfort food for the Foochow immigrants in Sibu and Sarikei. Then it became a pastry enjoyed by all races. In the 1970's-80's, school kids stuffed the kom pia with "satay fish" slices. In the 1990's, you could order them in kopitiams toasted or deep dried with fillings of chicken or minced meat.

Those on low carbo diets need not apply.


Daniel Yiek said...

I used to eat a lot New York bagels a few years ago when bagels were first introduced into Singapore. I still prefer the kom pia I grew up with.

Kanga said...

Kom pia and I are good friends. I still buy kom pia from Kuching and bring them through custom check point. The custom officer would use a knife to cut open one or two to make sure there is no meat in it! I keep my kom pia in my freezer. My Sarawak Foochow friends often complianed that I don't share my kom pia with them. Who can blame me!

Sim Y said...

I tasted the latest version of kompia. I must say it improve so much that it is nothing like the original. It is so soft and has fillings.

It was used to be hard and salty type (that almost pull your teeth off and good for jaw exercise), and the soft and sweet type.

Daniel Yiek said...

I'm surprised that kom pia can get thru Australia customs. Stuff one into the custom officer's mouth to keep him silent. ;-)

I think the ingredients used nowadays are much better than the old days where anything will do.

For those going back to Sarikei the week before and after CNY, go there early to buy because all those kom pia deprived folks working outside Sarikei will make them sell out fast. The 2 older shops I mentioned in the blog have retired their business.

I have yet to find kom pia in Singapore where I work. I miss you, kom pia.

Nelson said...

eat it when it's hot! that's why i always buy straight from the kompia 'bakery' shop.

kompia with meat has a marketable name now --> chinese hamburger

btw, chinese hamburger in taman muhibah, pedada rd sibu is quite nice! it's baked not fried, healthier yeah...

ikan sembilang said...

Gee, long time no see and no eat kom pia already! Next trip back to Sarikei, I promise to give myself a treat by having kom pia for breakfast, lunch and, maybe, even for dinner also. It would certainly be a memorable and enjoyable treat. Anybody knows which shop in Sarikei makes the best kom pia?

BurungHelang said...

The "Kom Pia" from the olden days taste better. Nowadays have to travel to Sibu to savour the authentic taste again.

ront said...

kom pia in Tung Hua Rd Sibu!!! not sure if its has come under control of those rampant gangster.....Godfather style...hehe

kompia in Sitiawan is quite good too....they put onion in the dough....

Ah Gau said...

Hi. There is this Stall in Bintangor that Sells Stuffed Kompia with meat.. Delicious.. He fried it first before stuffing it w yummy meats.
Direction to go there, turn left at the road before the Basketball Court. Go straight. The stall (wooden house) is on ur left. Open at night tho.

Pwincess Linfoong said...


I;m a foochow from sitiawan and i came across ur blog while looking for images for kom pian! haha!

kom pian rules!!!

btw, the pictures.. lin chin ming.. is that a place in sarikei? cause there's a place in sitiawan called lin chin ming too leh

Augustine Hii said...

Your commentary and description of the famous Sarikei Kom Pia is excellent and very real. For those of us who have been there, your articles and tantalizing pictures just make us wanting to keep coming back there. For your information Sarikei Kom Pia make it to Vancouver, Canada.
Enjoyed your Time Capsule. Thank you.

Related Posts with Thumbnails