Seasons are changing, yes even in tropical Singapore. More cooling and rainy days, I simply love it! A good break from the hot and humid weather we typically get in the earlier months, leaving us all balmy and frustrated. I like to cook some hot “tong sui” during this time of the year too, a bowl of warm sweet broth packed with nourishing ingredients to prep us for the months to come. My small pot of “keng huay” is in bloom again, perfect timing to use those flowers to curb the cough and ease the sore throat that accompanied the flu bug for the last week or so!
八宝粥, literally to mean “Eight Treasures Porridge” is a traditional congee concoction enjoyed on 腊月初八 the 8th day of the 12th month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar, hence giving rise to its other name, 腊八粥. Having it roots in Buddhism, the history of this dish can be traced back more than 2200 years back to the Han dynasty when it was generally used as part of prayer offerings and not consumed. Interestingly during the Song dynasty more than 800 years ago , the folks then began enjoying this porridge for themselves, causing it to evolve and change to reflect the culinary characteristics of each period in history, as well as in accordance to personal taste and liking.
潮式芋泥 Teochew Orh Nee or Taro Paste is a dessert that goes back a long way for my family. Unlike the other chinese desserts which my mother would frequently prepare, orh nee was not something which we had often. This is probably because it takes quite a bit of time and effort to make. Its not a dessert commonly seen in the hawker centre dessert stalls too, probably for the same reasons as well. Memories of this dish come from attending wedding banquets, where it is almost customary for it to be served as the last course at a Teochew restaurant. The feelings were somewhat bittersweet, as I’d love to eat orh nee and thus much anticipated for the it to come right at the very end, yet at the same time, couldn’t help but felt dejected, as it would also mark the end of a feast.