Hakka Ham Cha
Here in Singapore, its called Lei Cha (Thunder Tea). Traditionally, I grew up calling it Ham Cha (Salted Tea). Ham Cha is the ultimate healthy comfort food. Lots of chopped vege with rice and ground tea soup, it is acquired taste to some but once you grow into it, it is the most satisfying meal.
This traditional meal originated from the Hakkas. Long long time ago, when Hakkas were nomads in China, moving from a place to another was hard work and they never had much livestock to travel with them, vegetable was the staple. Ham cha is actually a peasant meal that will keep the Hakkas warm in cold weather. By the way, not all Hakkas have the practice of eating Ham Cha, only certain 'tribes' of Hakkas do.
This particular Ham Cha pictured is not the best I have tasted. Somehow, this version has ikan bilis in it, not what I remember my Grandma would do.
I now miss my Grandma/Auntie's Ham Cha even more! Home made is still the best. Being away from home, I am further away from my own culture's delicacies, not even to mention learning how to make it myself. Ham Cha is a time consuming meal to make, lots of grinding and chopping - the secret is to consistently use the same clay pot for grinding the tea leaves, herbs and peanuts for soup so that the flavour is absorbed by the pot, the better the Ham Cha will taste.
Another Hakka delicacy to go with my Ham Cha meal is the Hakka Yong Tau Foo. Again, I would say this tofu pictured is not authentic. I have always had my tofu with meat stuffed into it, as opposed to having the meat on the outside of the tofu.
Many recommendations were said that 134 Sims Avenue serves decent Ham Cha. Maybe a trip down when any of you are in town? Remember, don't go without me!
On the thought of Hakka delicacies, Im dreaming of Suan Pan Zi, Choi Ban, Zha Rou...