Hakka-Licious – A Bowl of Sub-Culture
There is something about people on the fringes that always intrigues me. We have lived, for too long, in a world that pay too much attention to mainstreams. You have to be so and so, and conform to so and so, in order to gain so and so reputation and respect.
I am talking about individual characters, cultures and traditions. But I am still a big stickler for manners, humanity, and respect. Right and wrong, and I am not saying this to support extremism, cruelty, bullying of all forms – on- and off-lines.
Hakka Chinese is a minority Chinese in Thailand. Although we have Hakka Chinese communities throughout the Kingdom, their stories are relatively much more unknown. In my experiences, as ignorant as I could have been when it comes to this topic, I even thought, wrongfully of course, that Hakka and Hokkian Chinese are similar. But then, I needed someone to point me to a right direction.
Chinese people have so much assimilated and blended into the Thai society. So much so that we saw traces – as faint as some may be – everywhere. Chinese traditions seeped into Thai temples, many are decorated with Chinese-style mosaic, marquetry, and ceramic dolls. Their bright colourful additions fit right into the traditional Thai style of gold-and-gilded religious architecture.
Noodles are something that Thai kitchen had adopted with full gusto. However, these hearty bowls, and the origins of them all, can be traced through to any Chinese community. I found that the popular type of clear broth with minced pork served with assorted fish balls is something equally staple and ubiquitous in Singapore, where there are big clusters of Hokkian and Taechew Chinese communities.
But when it comes to Hakka foods and cultures, things started to blur. Upon my research, there had been attempts to promote the distinct cultures and foods of the Hakka clans. They are pork-dominated, I learn, and a bit oily. Many are not that photogenic, but upon looking at it, your mouth will start to water. Of all edible things from Hakka, the most well known is their ‘Hakka Noodle,’ which somehow has gained enough traction to continue and prosper in this competitive world of food market.
As you will learn from this video clip of ours, Hakka noodle is also pork-based. Instead of featuring a variety of fish balls, a bowl of Hakka noodle is packed with an assortment of homemade pork balls. Minced pork is flavoured with secret ingredients and ladled into silky tofu, deep-fried tofu, into their own pork balls – steamed and deep-fried. Everything is served with your choice of noodle and ladled with consomme style clear broth.
Some of these Hakka noodle ingredients might appear in other types of noodles, too. But to be a real Hakka bowl, the secret is in the texture of everything. Silky tofu is the key, and they need to be steamed to keep that texture right until it is served.
For me, the best homey bowl I have ever eaten. So delicious. Or so I say so… Hakka-Licious?