Amazing & Wacky Things, Bits & Pieces

Things Foochow

March 19, 2010

This morning I had “dian pien ngu” for breakfast at a coffeeshop in Miri Commercial Centre. This was the first time I had breakfast in that part of Miri.

“Dian pien ngu” is a Foochow delicacy. “Dian” means wok, “pien” means side and “ngu” means paste in Foochow. It is a savoury soup with rice cakes,fish balls, black fungus, dried cuttlefish shreds, shredded pork and some dried flower thingy. Rice flour is mixed with water to form a liquid paste. This paste is then poured on to the side of the wok and once cooked, it is scrapped into the wok and cooked in a soup.

I have not taken “dian pien ngu” for quite a long time as I cannot find really good ones in Miri. The “dian pien ngu” I had today was actually not too bad.

A couple of days ago, my mother-in-law gave me a lot of “kompian” from Sibu as she knows I am a great fan of this Foochow delicacy. “Kompian” is made from lightly salted flour sprinkled with sesame seeds and baked in traditional open charcoal oven. It is actually a type of sesame bagel. When it is hot from the oven, it tastes great.

I am a Hokkien but I love Foochow delicacies such as “dian pien ngu”, “kompian”, “kampuan mien” (dry mee) and “peh tin yok chicken” ( chicken cooked in a herbal soup). The reason is simple. I was born in Bintangor (where the inhabitants are predominantly Foochow) and lived there about 17 years. Even in my birth certificate, my surname was registered as “Ling” (Foochow spelling of my family name) when it should have been “Lim” (Hokkien spelling) as the nurse who recorded my birth just assumed that I was Foochow. So I am stucked with a Foochow name and my Malaysian identity card shows my Foochow name with my Hokkien name as an alias! I guess I am fated to be close to Foochows…….my wife is Foochow and many of my closest friends are Foochow too.

Foochows are very-hardworking and not averse to toils and risk-taking. It comes as no surprise that the richest Chinese in Sarawak are mostly Foochow. If you don’t believe, just think of all the Sarawak Chinese tycoons and see how many are Foochow.

Let me teach you a couple of commonly-used Foochow phrases:

Siah pa moi? = Have you eaten?

Ken chin kuan= Talking rubbish

And ask your Foochow friend how to say “3278” in Foochow… will be a “revelation” for you, hahaha!

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1 Comment

  • Reply Shan Lim December 8, 2013 at 10:49 am

    I'm of Foochow descend born and grew up in Singapore. My last name  is transliterated as "Lim" while one of my brothers is "Ling".

    I grew up in a fukien/Fujian kampong (village) and people there all spoke Fukienese (Hockkien). So, I spoke Fukienese during my childhood and adult life. You would have thought I'm a Fukienese. Although my father spoke Foochow dialect with all his relatives and Foochow friends, I didn't understand much of what they said. 

    I find it strange that Foochow is a capital city of Fujian Province, yet the two dialects sounded so different like day and night.

    I learnt a few words in Foochow dialect from my dad. such as "Chinonyan" for girl and "Tomoyan" for boy. My Foochow relatives liked to tease my sister saying, "Chinonyan mo yeon". To ask "where are you going", it's "Ni ko tiano?" Then I would say, "Gwhy ko kaliu." Then there is "Ni se pau mo?" The answer would be "Gwhy se pau lau."

    I think I had the "Dian Pien Ngu" when I was a child. But the other "Kompian" I don't think I had that before. 

    Growing up we had for Chinese New Year rice cake stirred fried with seafoods, thin sliced pork, pork liver, shitake mushroom and Chinese collard greens. On this occasion we also had chicken cooked in Red Yeast Rice Wine as soup base for Hockkien Meeshua (longetivity noodles). On other days we had Foochow fish ball with minced pork in the center, yian pee like wanton) fired oyster piah, Foochow thick rice noodles, etc.

    Now I'm living in the U.S. and I don't get to hear Foochow dialect spoken where I'm living unles I move to New York Chinatown. 


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