PETALING JAYA, Aug 3 -- The Hainanese may be better known for their chicken chop but did you know they also have their traditional kuih known as yi bua?
I'm not Hainanese but discovered its existence when I read Christopher Tan's The Way of Kueh. Usually only found within the Hainanese community, this kuih is prepared for birthdays, baby's full moon and even death anniversaries.
On Facebook, I stumbled on Soo Chin's Kitchen when she advertised the sale of yi bua. Based in PJ's Taman SEA, she keeps her Hainanese heritage alive by making this kuih at least once a month for orders.
The yi bua is made using a recipe passed down from her grandmother. Wrapped within a slightly chewy skin made from just glutinous rice flour, you will get a generous filling of fresh grated coconut, roasted peanut nibs, white sesame seeds, Bentong ginger, winter melon candy, gula Melaka and candied mandarin orange. What I like about this kuih is how each ingredient used plays a part.
Savour the kuih slowly with a cup of coffee. As you chew, you will discover the peanuts give a nice texture contrast when combined with the softer coconut.
It's also fragrant with a distinct orange note. The ginger is a little muted but as you slowly savour the kuih, you get a slight tinge of the ginger's spiciness. It's also not too sweet.
Soo Chin tells me that she made some adjustments to the original recipe by omitting the use of oil to form the dough as she preferred a healthier version. Her grandmother's original recipe uses pork lard.
Nowadays, yi bua is prepared in the "modern" style as Soo Chin calls it with just a filling of grated coconut and brown sugar. Even the skin for the modern version is softer like marshmallow as they use a combination of rice flour and glutinous rice flour.
Soo Chin advised that the soft skin is impossible to contain her heavier filling so she makes a chewier version that holds better.
As the kuih is filled with freshly grated coconut, you have to consume it within 36 hours of it being made. Soo Chin said some people like to gently pan fry the kuih over a small fire the next day. This gives the skin a harder and even chewier texture combined with a warm filling.
Soo Chin also makes a sweet potato version of the yi bua where the skin has a yellow hue. Another unusual version is art bua where the dough is cooked in boiling water and rolled in a mixture of toasted grated coconut and sesame seeds. The art bua is less favoured by the old folks since the toasted bits can get caught in between their dentures!
If you're ordering the kuih for a special occasion, the minimum order is 50 pieces. Alternatively if you cannot consume so many kuih, you can stalk her Facebook page when she opens up orders to make the kuih and join others.
Usually she will make yi bua once a month. You will need to purchase a minimum of 10 pieces where each piece is RM3.
In addition, Soo Chin also roasts her own Hainanese coffee – a mix of Liberica and Robusta beans from Kulai, Johor – using Golden Churn butter, cocoa powder and sugar.
You can pick up the freshly roasted coffee beans from her on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. A tub of 250 grams coffee is sold at RM35. The Golden Churn version is sold for RM40 for the same amount.
You can also get other goodies like cendol jelly, butter cake using SCS butter, gula Melaka cake and gula Melaka duck egg kaya. She also sells the gula Melaka in blocks and syrup form.
There's also the unusual Wonder Candy which she gave me to sample. The soothing candy is great for an irritated throat. There's a long list of natural ingredients that includes mint leaves, Chinese pear, galangal, cloves and much more. She also sells this via Shopee.
Soo Chin's Kitchen, Taman SEA, Petaling Jaya. For orders, place them via her Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SooChinsKitchen