In Hong Kong, the movie industry has its 4 Heavenly Kings to describe the 4 most popular singers. For me, I have my 4 Heavenly Kings to describe my 4 must-eat hawker dishes in Kuching. Kueh Chap is one of the 4. The others being the Sarawak Laksa, Kolok Mee and Tomato Kuey Teow.
Kueh Chap, I believe, is hokkien for the word “Cake” and “Mixed”. The “cake” or kueh denotes the use of thicker than usual kuey teow (rice flour cake – which is like lasagna) whilst “mixed” or chap probably describes the use of a mixture of pork parts in the dish. In Penang, Singapore and Johor Bahru, I believe they use duck parts as well. In Kuching, it is almost exclusively pork.
The flat kuey teow-like cake is cut into square / rectangular pieces and are blanched before serving into a herbal soup mixed with an assortment of pork parts (I like calling them spare parts), hard boiled egg and tau pok (fried puffy bean curd). The spare parts may include belly pork, pork skin, pork ears, pork tongue, pork intestines, pork stomach and lean pork. These parts are cut up into small bite sizes and offers a great crunching and biting experience. I especially like the skin, ears and tongue. Er…actually, I like all the parts. Just don’t feel horrified by my eating habits, heh! heh!
The soup is herbal in nature and probably can be described as a different kind of bak kut teh with a slightly more salty flavour. I rarely waste any when I have a bowl of kueh chap. The ingredients (pork parts and kueh) are dipped into a sour based chilli sauce and this makes it really appetising.
My favourite stall in Kuching which sells Kueh Chap is the one at Sekama (near Foochow Road) which is run by a lady. The coffee shop where the stall is situated faces a traffic light junction and it is usually packed with customers. This is probably the best or most popular Kueh Chap stall in Kuching. Another stall which is not too bad is run by a young man within a coffee shop located along Jalan Keretapi (now it has a long sounding name) near the cross traffic-light junction of Jalan Green and Jalan Keretapi. If I am not mistaken, there is an Everise Supermarket next door. During my last trip, I ordered 8 packets to take away home to Kuala Lumpur. The kueh was packed uncooked so that I could blanch them at home prior to eating. The soup and the rest of the ingredients merely needs reheating.
My stomach is growling as I am typing this post. I can’t get them here in Kuala Lumpur (there used to be a lady who sold this in Setapak a couple of years back but no more). So, I shall have to wait till my next trip to Kuching this September! Kueh Chap, wait for me!
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