Restore the Quintessence of Hakka Rice Cracker through Improvement, Innovation and Localisation
If you're looking for an essential snack or 'New Year's snack' for the Hakka people during Chinese New Year, you can't go wrong with the traditional rice crackers, and most people are very particular about choosing the most time-honored or handmade vendors. The five steps in making rice crackers are boiling, scooping, pouring, pounding and cutting. The process may seem simple, but it is actually time-consuming and tedious, and not something that can be done on your own.
Niang Republic, an online food and lifestyle brand, is taking advantage of the Chinese New Year to launch the "Prosperous Rice Craker" gift box, which preserves the traditional good taste while making improvements to breathe new life into traditional food and let the new generation reacquaint themselves with the beauty of tradition.
In the interview, Jason Teo, the founder of the company, said that the traditional Hakka rice cracker was long and simply wrapped in red papers, while in recent years it has gradually evolved into plastic vacuum packaging.
"Rice cracker has a crunchy texture and is usually sprinkled with coriander, sesame seeds, sugar syrup and maltose. As the most challenging part is the 'scooping' step, the timing is very crucial, because once the sugar is almost solidified, it will not be able to mix the rice cracker or bihun cracker evenly. Therefore, to make the rice cracker less likely to solidify, when we boil the syrup, we add not only sugar, but also a little sugar syrup and mandarin oranges to slow down the crystallization process". The process conveys the wisdom of the old generation about food and life.
He pointed out that although there is no shortage of rice crackers, they are not widely available in the market, so he decided to make the crispy rice cracker series one of the main souvenirs of the shop in 2023, and introduced the "Prosperous Rice Cracker" New Year Gift Box this year, which contains four flavors, including Nasi Lemak Rice Cracker, Original Bihun Cracker, Hakka Coriander Bihun Cracker and Rice Peanut Cracker.
"Doing this project was actually fun and interesting. Rice Cracker is both familiar and strange, especially to the Hakka people who may not have eaten Coriander Rice Cracker or Bihun Rice Cracker, and when they see this product again, they will get to know it all over again".
The most common rice cracker flavors on the market are plain and coriander, but Niang Republic has improved both the shape and taste, with smaller shapes and distinctive sweet and salty flavors that people couldn’t help but take one bite after another.
In addition to the traditional flavors, Niang Republic has also introduced Nasi Lemak Rice Cracker which combines local elements with traditional food.
"We hope that tradition doesn't lose the young, and the young don't lose the tradition; instead of constantly creating new things, it's better to improve tradition with the times, create new possibilities and ideas, and then pass them on. Traditional food, if no one continues to make it, will fade together with the older generation".