Hakka dinner with Tsung Tsin

31 07 2011

Favorite food of Hakka people

For relatives on my mom’s side and friends interested in Hakka Chinese things, here is my link to the Tsung Tsin Association in Honolulu’s website where you can learn about this Hakka club too: http://tinyurl.com/tsungtsinhi

The group seeks new members to help achieve its mission “to promote the exchange of knowledge among the Hakka peoples, develop a spirit of cooperation among the Hakka in Hawaii and throughout the world, and promote education, charity, and benevolence.”

Last night, taking advantage of my “guest” status, eight of my cousins and friends partook of a Hakka dinner cooked by the chef of Golden Palace Seafood Restaurant. About 120 people attended.

At our table were my eldest first cousins, Eileen and Kwong-Yen, and cousin Audrey Helen and her husband Howard; our mothers were sisters. Nani and Rae came; they are cousins on Eileen’s father’s side. So did Pixie whose birthday is today—Happy Birthday, Pixie!—and Lori who is a professional foodie.

We ate dishes prepared especially for this event that are not part of the regular menu—as there is no Hakka-specific restaurant in Honolulu—and were reminded of our childhood and the foods our parents and grandparents made.

I consider Hakka food “Chinese soul food.” Some people call it peasant food. My friend Lori described it as “rustic” and “pigcentric.” It’s salty because Hakka people worked in the fields outdoors and needed to replace the salt in their bodies. Salt was also used as a preservative for foods like cabbage and eggs. Hakka cooks also use a lot of oil, because in the olden days there was not enough oil, so now that it is available, they use it (that is what I was told on a Hakka food tour I took in China one time.)

Although today’s advice is to eat what our ancestors ate, I don’t indulge like this very often anymore, and if I do, I modify the recipe and try to make it healthier. I do, however, like that the food we ate as kids did not contain much sugar.

Last night’s flavors allowed us to reminisce about the recipes. The occasion and the Tsung Tsin Association gave us a chance to revisit our roots. Please consider getting in touch. It’s a well-organized and very friendly community.

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke
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