Through our journeys, we have discovered so many different local heritage gourmet products that every Singaporean will find near and dear to their hearts. Many simple local foods are often overlooked for fanciful, and foreign products. Yet, at the end of the day, comfort is usually found in the most nostalgic foods. This is the story of the humble You Tiao and Hum Chim Peng; how we discovered the best ones across the island, learned the hardships of handling hot oils and our strives towards elevating the value of these humble products.
The creation of You Tiao and Hum Chim Peng AKA Chinese fried doughs require the artful mastery of heat - to ensure the exact temperature for golden grown and deliciousness and time - to prove the doughs for the right amount of fermented funk.
There is without a doubt that the best You Tiaos are made by Uncle Lim and the island’s finest Hum Chim Pengs are skillfully crafted by madame Tay. Waking up every day right before 3 a.m, Uncle Lim makes his way to his stall to remove the dough which has been proofing from the night before, he heats his wok and fills it with fresh canola oil. As the first customers start to arrive, he swiftly stretches each dough piece out then pinches it with a wooden stick before setting them into the vat of hot oil to fry.
This story is similar to Mdm Tay, who first wakes her family before heading to her stall, armed only with Chinese five-spice powder and her wooden tools in a backpack. She braves the late morning hawker center heat to fry just six pieces of Hum Chim Peng at a time. While she knows that she would be more productive if ‘they are cooked in larger batches but Mdm Tay refuses to compromise on quality!
Their tool of choice, a pair of long chopsticks…. Now that’s true hardship!
We find it sad that many Singaporeans are willing to pay six, seven even up to $12 for a French pastry or piece of Japanese pain. However, when it comes to the humble You Tiao and Hum Chim Peng they shun when it costs more than just a couple of dollars.
That is not right, and we disagree with that low-value nature of the product.we should be proud of our local heritage, it’s valuable, and so are You Tiaos and Hum Chim Pengs from Uncle Lim and Mdm Tay. Support these local gourmet heroes today!