Teochew Porridge, A Nostalgic Bowl of Comfort from the Streets

market that seeks food and clothing Teochew porridge

The ancestors of Teochew people settled in Johor Bahru when they came to the south and played a vital role in the establishment of Johor Bahru, which is why Johor Bahru is known as the "Little Swatow". Teochew people have several specialties in their eating habits, among which are Teochew porridge, marinade and the most important element, seafood.

The Teochew native land is rich in aquatic products, so the Teochew people are experts in cooking seafood dishes. The National Heritage Living Person, Tan Chai Puan pointed this out in his interview in "Our Native Land", "There is a saying that the Teochew food culture doesn't belong to the land but to the sea."

In the days when there were no refrigerators to preserve food, the ancestors of Teochew people had their life hacks to preserve the seafood they caught. One of the familiar dishes is Fish Rice, which is pronounced "he bong" in Teochew, meaning that Teochew people eat fish as much as they eat rice.

“Certain species of fish caught from the sea are picked and immediately placed on a bamboo basket, and then without cleaning the scales, fish belly, internal organs and so on, they are directly sprinkled with salt and steamed in a pot. After steaming, let it dry and air. By the time you want to eat it, the fish has gone through a cooling process as there is a layer of salt on the outside, so it is preserved fresh. It is also because the scales are not scraped off, the fish is very fresh and sweet. Then at this time, it tastes exceptionally good when served with broad bean paste!"

Nowadays, fish rice is not easily found, and the most commonly seen combination is fish rice with Teochew porridge. In addition to fish rice, mixed salted dishes, or pickled, savoury snacks are also the "best match" for Teochew porridge.

Food is not merely about the taste, but also about the memories it carries. You do not eat to only feed yourself, but to remember your native land.


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