(Y3K Recipes Issue No.17 – Mar/ Apr 2005)
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马 发 贸 易 MA FATT TRADING
97, Jalan Besar, 71650 Titi, Jelebu, Negeri Sembilan. Tel: 012-762 4827
The drive to reach Titi, a small laidback town in the Jelebu district of Negeri Sembilan took us an hour from Kuala Lumpur. At the old trunk road off 9th miles, Cheras, we drove past the Pekan Batu 14 area and the Semenyih dam. The sign B32/ N32 lead us to Kuala Klawang and it is hard to imagine how winding but serene this stretch can be, before Titi town can be seen.
Titi has a certain rustic charm with an environment very close to nature. This town is home to a population of 3,000 residents with the Hakkas being the majority clan. The allure of Titi has always been associated with its agricultural crops like tuber plants of tapioca and sweet potatoes. The Sarawak variety of pineapples has been successfully grown here and sweet juicy sugar canes is another good crop found.
About two years ago, a big group of the younger generation had left home to work in the big cities. Not everyone likes to till the land and this marked very deserted streets during the day. We walked past the bank, the sole one in this town and found the Siew's family workshop on the opposite side of the road.
They manufacture a traditional snack known as "Mah Chi Chang" which is very similar to the famous Bidor snack, "Sak Kei Mah". The eggs fragrance is stronger than "Sak Kei Mah" and has a rather crisp bite. Toasted sesame seeds and groundnuts thrown in gives it an extra crunch. We detected a touch of lemon juice flavouring in the sugary molasses used to bind the ingredients together.
As senior lady, Mrs. Siew weighed the flour and butter ingredients, she explained to us, how authentic this snack is to the Hakkas. She then mixed the ingredients together with another mixture of beaten eggs and yeast. It was poured into a processor and mixed for 10 minutes to form a dough. The dough was kneaded manually before covering it, to allowed fermentation to take place. In the midst of the waiting period, senior Papa Siew briefed us on his two other 'prized' snacks, namely Miah Chang (a dried rice, nutty snack) and another Yin Yeong Paeng. The latter is actually a combination of the first two snacks, thus the merge of this wonderful biscuit.
After the fermentation period, junior lady, Mrs. Siew placed the dough on a clean tabletop. She sliced it into pieces, flattened them before allowing her husband to compressed them into thin slices with an electric machine. The dough slices were shredded further before younger sister, Miss Siew hands them to her mother for the deep-frying process. The golden-yellow fried pastry shreds were mixed with nuts and sesame seeds. Accordingly, special care is taken to clean the sesame seeds and nuts to ensure they are free of grits as it passes through sieves. A big wok is used to cook a sugary syrup and the nutty fried pastry shreds were mixed in. this mixture is then poured into custom-made moulds which has been coated with extra sesame seeds at the base. Four pairs of hands compressed it tight before slicing to the desired sizes whilst still hot. Packaging was done immediately to sealed in the crispness.
This strong bonded family delivers good stuff and we sincerely hope, cottage industries like the Siew's family will always remain significant. Traditional snacks should remain forever.
Recipe of Mah Chee Chang (A Hakka snack similar to Sak Kei Mah)
Ingredients: (commercial recipe)
4.5 kg plain flour
20 eggs (double A grade)
2 packets instant yeast (nett weight granules combined is 22g)
1.3kg peanuts (toasted, skinned)
200g sesame seeds (toasted, divide into 3 parts, 1st part 100g, 2nd & 3rd parts 50g each)
1. Break eggs into a big mixing bowl. Beat it with a balloon whisky wire whisk.
2. In a big electric mixer, place flour in the mixing bowl. Add in butter, beaten eggs, instant yeast granules. Beat for 10 minutes till a dough is formed.
3. Remove dough and knead it manually. Cover with a piece of cloth for an hour to ferment it.
4. Cut dough into small pieces. Flatten each piece with a basin or rolling pin.
5. Use a knife to cut dough into lengthy strips. Deep-fry strips in hot oil till golden coloured. Remove and drain off excess oil.
6. Spread no.(5) into a big wok. Add nuts on top and the first part of 100g sesame seeds. Place the second part of 50g sesame seeds into a longish-shaped mould. Keep aside.
7. Pour the prepared syrup (recipe below) on no.(6). Stir to combine thoroughly before pouring the whole contents into the longish-shaped mould. Press surface hard to level it.
8. Scatter the third part of 50g sesame seeds on top. Press surface once more. Cool till it hardens before slicing into big chunks for packaging.
To make syrup
2.1 kg white sugar
1 heaped tbsp butter
150ml lime juice/ limau nipis
1 heaped tbsp maltose/ mak ngah tong
1. Combine sugar, water, butter in a big wok. Bring it to a boil over high heat, stirring at all times. Add in lime juice and maltose. After 15 minutes of stirring, it should be golden coloured.
2. To test if syrup is ready, spoon up a tablespoon of it. Pour the syrup into a bowl filled with water. Test the texture with your finger. It should resemble the commercial maltose texture.