Sunday, July 31, 2005

IMBB 17 - Thunder Tea Rice Ritual

In this month's Is My Blog Burning?(IMBB) hosted by Clement from A La Cuisine! all the way in Toronto, besides creating a tasteTea dish with any type of tea, he has also asked us to blog about tea rituals. Since I am part Hakka (my father's side), I decided to talk a bit about the famous Thunder Tea Rice (Lui Cha Fan) that is unique to the Hakka clan.

The Hakka clan is said to originate from the Northern China provinces of Shanxi and Henan. However due to war and chaos, they were forced to migrate to Southern China. During their migration, they had to go through a lot of hardship and were not welcomed in new settlements. However, the clan people were a practical lot and endured the hardship and never had any qualms of grabbing an opportunity for a better life. This led them to be called "guest (Hak) people (Ka)" since they were often guests of new settlements.

I guess that is probably why my grandfather migrated to Malaysia from Southern China as he wanted to search for a better life. Unfortunately he died when he was very young leaving the family to be taken care by my grandmother. She had a mammoth task looking after thirteen children during those days but like my dad always said, she was a typical Hakka woman who was strong and could deal with anything.

Hakka cuisine is said to be quite "rough" or unrefined to be fashionable but nowadays, you see quite a number of establishments selling typical Hakka dishes like yong tau foo where they stuff fish meat mixed with ground meat into vegetables or bean curd. They also use a lot of preserved vegetables in their dishes as nothing is to be wasted during those hard times. I will be blogging more about Hakka food next week as I visited a Hakka restaurant recently.

In the Hakka clan, there is a sub-group called Ho Poh and they have a unique tradition in this Thunder Tea Rice (Lui Cha Fan). The thunder created is said to signify the noise made when one is preparing the dish which involves a lot of grinding of tea leaves and chopping vegetables and nuts to small bits that accompany this dish. Traditionally, the Ho Poh eat this dish on the seventh day of Chinese New Year. This particular dish seems to have quite a following due to it's healthy nature and besides restaurants specialising in Hakka cuisine, you can find it in organic restaurants.

My lui cha fan below is actually from an organic restaurant called Ecogreen, located in Bukit Kiara. The ingredients are all organic and totally healthy. The lui cha fan comes with seven condiments of tofu, groundnuts, pickled radishes and various vegetables which are all chopped up in small bits.

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To maintain the health perspective of this dish, brown organic rice was used that is steamed so it's fluffy and soft.

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The tea part is in the soup which is brewed from a mixture of tea leaves, basil and mint. The mixture is grounded in a lui cha pot till it becomes a paste. Then it is wrapped in a cloth and infused in hot water to produce this tea. The tea is served piping hot.

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To eat your lui cha fan, you pour the condiments into your rice and add the hot tea. As it is an acquired taste (some say the tea can be too bitter or taste funny), add as much as you like. The dish can be quite filling even though it does not look it and you can omit the rice if you wish.

5 comments:

Helen (AugustusGloop) said...

Thunder Tea Rice is such a great name!

Thanks so much for sharing your family stories. And the lui cha fan sounds so cleansing but delicious.

Makan Kings said...

boo,

You are right. Lui Cha is quite an acquired taste. Still have yet to acquire the taste for it but sure it'll taste better with time.

Cheers,
-Makan Kings-

babe_kl said...

boo, just to add on cos i have a colleague who explained to me how she made this before...

the soup is made by grinding tea leaves, grounded toasted peanut and mint leaves placed in a claypot with a guava tree stump. once everything is finely grounded, pour hot water into this mixture. am not sure whether she strain it or not.

boo_licious said...

augustusgloop - yeah, I love the name too. I can imagine the thunder it creates as one can get quite energetic with a mortar and pestle.

makan king - yeah, some people don't like it. I like it as it's so healthy so unlike the other Hakka dishes.

babe - thanks for the tips from your friend. Yeah I read about the guava root thing. That is why I decided I am definitely not making this as I don't think I can get the ingredients.

n i l e e y said...

hello, a random visitor...my grandmother makes the best lui cha as she use ingredients grown in her herb garden and is very generous while making the paste :)

But I agree it's acquired taste, my mum doesn't take the soup till today, but I love it!

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