Hakka Cuisine

Hakka Cuisine

Hakka cuisine, or Kuhchia cuisine, is the cooking style of the Hakka people, who may also be found in other parts of Taiwan and in countries with significant overseas Hakka communities. There are numerous restaurants in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia,Singapore and Thailand serving Hakka cuisine. Hakka cuisine was listed in 2014 on the first Hong Kong Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The Hakka people have a marked cuisine and style of Chinese cooking which is little known outside the Hakka home. It concentrates on the texture of food – the hallmark of Hakka cuisine. Whereas preserved meats feature in Hakka delicacy, stewed, braised, roast meats – ‘texturized’ contributions to the Hakka palate – have a central place in their repertoire. In fact, the raw materials for Hakka food are no different from raw materials for any other type of regional Chinese cuisine: what you cook depends on what is available in the market. Hakka cuisine may be described as outwardly simple but tasty. The skill in Hakka cuisine lies in the ability to cook meat thoroughly without hardening it, and to naturally bring out the proteinous flavour (umami taste) of meat.

The Hakka who settled in the harbour and port areas of Hong Kong placed great emphasis on seafood cuisine. Hakka cuisine in Hong Kong is less dominated by expensive meats; instead, emphasis is placed on an abundance of vegetables. Pragmatic and simple, Hakka cuisine is garnished lightly with sparse or little flavouring. Modern Hakka cooking in Hong Kong favours offal, an example being Deep-Fried Intestines (炸大腸 or Zha Da Chang). Others include tofu with preservatives, along with their signature dish Salt Baked Chicken (鹽焗雞 or Ham Guk Gai). Another specialty is the Poon choi (盆菜).
While it may be difficult to prove these were the actual diets of the old Hakka community, it is at present a commonly accepted view. The above dishes and their variations are in fact found and consumed throughout China including Guangdong, and are not particularly unique or confined to the Hakka Chinese population.

Besides meat as source of protein, there is a unique vegan dish called lei cha (擂茶). It comprises combinations of vegetables and beans. Although not specifically unique for all Hakka people but are definitely famous among the Hakka-Hopo families. This vegetable based rice tea dish is gaining momentum among others especially in multicultural country like in Malaysia. Cooking of this dish requires the help from other family members to complete all eight combinations. It helps foster the relationship between family members in return.

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