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Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia

I am a proud Fuzhou (福州) people (also known as Foochow in Malaysia). For that very reason, I had started to write on Fuzhou Snacks. Wok edge paste (鼎边糊) is my first ever entry, which I wrote more than 2 months go. As I only managed 1 entry thus far, you may start to think there aren’t that many Fuzhou delicacies out there after all. But you are wrong! I am not just simply taking a few pictures and raving a few lines. I bring you only the best in here. I will cover the history on where the delicacy first came from to its current status in community. I will also bring you live coverage of the making of the delicacy. You see, lots of works to be done!

Allow me to introduce you to Kompia (光饼), another of my all time favorite Fuzhou snack. Kompia is Hokkien/Fujian (福建) dialect. It is “光饼” in Mandarin. Among all Fuzhou delicacies, Kompia is said to be the cheapest and the roughest. Its ingredients are simply flour, baking soda and a bit of salt. I remember Kompia was sold at 5 cents per piece when I was a kid. Now it is sold at 20 cents per piece, still relatively cheap if compared with others, isn’t it? How does Kompia taste? It tastes crunchy, a little bit salty and a little bit of charred flavor.

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

Kompia (福州光饼)

According to Fuzhou annals, the existence of Kompia can be traced back to Ming Dynasty (明朝) under the ruling of Emperor Jiajing (嘉靖四十二年). In 1563, national hero during the Ming Dynasty, Qi Jiguang (戚继光) led his elite troops south into Fujian Province to battle with Japanese pirates (倭寇). Japanese pirates had established strongholds along the coast of the Fujian Province back then. In order to support the troops, common people living in the coastal areas of Fujian Province had made a kind of wheat flour cake for Qi Jiguang’s army. For the ease to bring around during marching and doing battle, these wheat flour cakes were each made with an opening in the middle, so that they can be strung together. A series of victories by Qi Jiguang’s army finally saw the pirate problem in Fujian fully resolved. To remember Qi Jiguang, this cake was named Kompia (“光”饼) by later generations.

I have the great honor to witness the entire process of Kompia making. Jason Bakery (裕昌饼家) is the only outlet in town that makes Kompia in front of your very own eyes. The owner makes Kompia at 1 corner inside the shop and sells freshly baked Kompia in front of the outlet. Jason Bakery has been in operation since 1992. The owner told me he has to wake up at 0300 every morning to prepare the ingredients. He then starts to make Kompia and usually only do so in the morning. By noon time when all the Kompia are sold, he will call it a day. He said business is good over the weekends as many outstation customers come to buy his Kompia.

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

The owner of Jason Bakery

Without further ado, let’s look at the Kompia making process.

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

Flour

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

First, the mixture of flour, baking soda and salt is mixed well in a mixer

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

Add in some water

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

The mixture is blended into dough

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

The dough is rolled and rubbed into a long strip

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

He is in action!

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

The long strip is then cut into many small pieces

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

These small pieces are sprinkled with dry flour so that they do not stick together

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

Each small piece is rolled into oblate shape

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

Poke a tiny hole in the middle of each

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

Ready to bake!

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

View inside the oven

The oven used to bake Kompia is made of this big clay jar. The owner told me this is the biggest asset of his business and he will not let go of the big jar at any price. He told me it is very hard to find such clay jar in the town these days. Truly speaking, I have never seen a similar clay jar elsewhere.

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

Big clay jar used to bake Kompia

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

Charcoal is ignited and the oven is covered with a wet cloth

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

Meanwhile, sesame seeds are sprinkled on top

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

The oven is ready!

Kompia baking process itself is an art. It needs 2 persons to perform the task simultaneously. One has to stretch his hand into the jar and with lightning speed, paste the Kompia onto the wall of the jar. One hand comes out; another hand goes in until the wall is fully pasted with Kompia. The action has to be swift or else you risk burning your hand! The whole process is so rhythmic and swift. It is a pleasure to watch!

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

One hand in, another hand out

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

Kompia lining the wall

After only 10 minutes, all the Kompia are done. The surface of each Kompia will turn into golden yellow. Now they are ready to be served! These Kompia are lifted from oven using a small shovel.

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

Small shovel is used to collect Kompia

And this is the final product! So crunchy fresh from oven!

Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia picture eat  photo

Kompia

Kompia these days does not have hole in the middle anymore. Instead they are only dented slightly in the middle. And of course we do not wear Kompia around our neck or waist anymore! Kompia can be eaten just like that. It can also be eaten with slices of braised pork belly or minced pork in between! :em36: :em36: :em36: I got to get myself some Kompia right now! :hk17: :hk17:

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15 comments to Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia

  • Mei Teng

    I have never tasted these cookies before. Why did they poke a hole in the cookie dough before it’s baked? The oven used to bake the kompia is the same kind used for the naan breads.

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  • Jama

    I’m not sure if these can be found here in Singapore, let me ask my chinese friends.
    That oven looks similar to the ones use to bake Naan bread, tandori chicken by the Indian. I know I’ve seen them around the Serangoon Road eateries.

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  • Borneo Falcon

    I will like to go to Rejang Park and see this process with my own eyes

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  • Oh so this is how kompia is made. Very interesting. At first I thought there will be some filling inside.

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  • annant

    i tried kompia! served frest and hot in sibu :em20:
    however they turned into rock when they are cold :em28:

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  • jam

    Mei Teng & Jama, I haven’t seen before how naan breads are baked.

    Borneo Falcon, you must go! It is a lifetime experience.

    Che-Cheh, Kompia can also be eaten with filling inside. It can be braised pork belly, minced pork, salad or anything you prefer to go with.

    Annant, Kompia is best eaten when it is still hot and fresh from oven.

  • Bengbengg

    this could possibly the most comprehensive post i read on kongpia so far. well done

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  • jam

    My pleasure, BB :hk31:

  • foongpc

    Oh, so this is kompia! Any chance of bringing some kompia over when we meet up? Haha!

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  • foongpc

    What’s the purpose of poking the tiny hole in the middle? It’s really not easy making kompia especially the baking process!

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  • Haha

    :clap_tb: I feel hungry already by looking the nice kompia photos. I love Kompia since I was young…mummy…

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  • jam

    Foong, I will be trying to bring you some next time. But by time the Kompia comes to you, it has already turned cold and hard.

    History background is the only reason why Kompia is poked a tiny hole in the middle. Kompia were strung together in the past by a rope to wear around the neck, but no more now.

  • There is one place where you can buy kompia that does not turn rock hard when it is cold. So, I went out 15 minutes ago to check the name of this shop where I patronise for kompia, and to buy some. It is called Sing Kee (1999)Confectionary, and is along the row of shops facing Pansar. It faces Metropoitan Travel and KTS Trading directly.

    I did not get any, sold out before 11:00 am., probably because today is the National Day holiday. That’s how good it is.

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  • katie

    Interesting! I have been trying to get a recipe for Kompiang. Tried your recipe even though there is no actual ratio in the ingredients. Want to know the results?

    1) smell like it
    2) crunch like it
    3) but inside not soft like those sold in sitiawan.

    I will try again with different ratio of the ingredients. Wish me luck. In case you get a better recipe, just drop me a line. Thank you.

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