Teochew Porridge is the ultimate comfort food for a Teochew Ah Hia like myself. Although I would be the first to admit that though I have 100% Teochew DNA, my selection of dishes to accompany my porridge won’t be able to score me a distinction if I were sitting for the entrance exams for admission into the Teochew Huay Kuan. (Association)
I grew up eating Teochew Porridge at home with the simple dishes like Chye Poh Omelette, Minced Pork Omelette, Chinese sausage omelette and the canned stuff like Fried Dace and Luncheon Meat. Unfortunately, my Dad used to love to steam the really fishy Mullet which completely threw me off steamed fish for a long time. Now what kind of Teochew Ah Hia doesn’t like steamed fish? Especially Peh Dou He (Rabbit Fish) during Chinese New Year?
The wonderful thing about Teochew Porridge is the fact that the porridge is just plain, hot and watery. I have always assumed that the Teochews had it watery because they were so poor that they had to add more water to their rice in order to fill their stomachs. Extra guests? No problem! Just add more water and you can have extra bowls of porridge!
The enjoyment of Teochew porridge comes from gulping down the hot porridge after you have taken a mouthful of the often salty dishes like fermented beancurd or Chye Poh Omelette (Preserved Veg). That small amount of “Kiam” (salt) is good enough for one or two mouthfuls of porridge to cleanse the palate and then you can experience the warmth of the porridge slide down your gullet. It is even better on a cold rainy day!
Anyway, word as it that Jetstar will be flying to Swatow direct this year, so a few of my other Teochew Ah Bas (Ah Ba=Dude) have already indicated to me that they would be interested to go back to seek out their Teochew roots and at the same time sample some real Teochew dishes. Anyone else interested in a Swatow Makan Session?
Speaking of the Teochews, Hougang or more specifically Hougang Ngou Kor Jior (5 miles) is one of the Teochew enclaves in Singapore. So, if you are trying to look for Teochew Porridge, then this must be the place to find it right? If you ask any Houganger where to eat Teochew Porridge, most of them will point you to Ah Seah Eating House. This place has been established for a long time and is synonymous with Hougang.
I was told that the best time to eat Teochew Porridge here is in the evening when all the steam fish would be out. I was there for lunch, so I just had my usual selection of dishes. Braised peanuts is a favorite of mine since we used to always just open a can of braised peanuts to have with our porridge . Unfortunately, I have to say that the braised peanuts here were not soft enough and it wasn’t flavourful enough either. 3.5/5
The homemade fish cakes were better. They have the fish cakes and meat balls which are both almost the same. The meatball is essentially the fish cake with minced pork in it. A bit unusual as I was expecting the usual steamed minced pork with salted eggs. I love the texture of the fish cakes and the contrast between the cool and smooth fish cake with the hot porridge is excellent. 4/5
You can’t eat Teochew Porridge without ordering Chye Bueh (Preserved Veg). Well, actually you can’t eat Teochew Porridge without ordering Porridge as some of my kakis did, but that is another story for another post. I was never a big fan of Chye Bueh, but for some reason we always end up ordering it just because it doesn’t feel like Teochew Porridge if you don’t have the Chye Bueh. What can I say, most of the Chye Bueh I have eaten before tastes about the same. 4/5.
I was a little disappointed to tell you the truth. This place is highly recommended by a lot of people I know, so I had very high expectations for it. Perhaps I really should try them again at night to see if there is a huge difference.
Are you a fan of the place? Perhaps you can share why you love it so much!
Ah Seah will relocate around the corner to 31 Teck Chye Terrace on 25 August 2011