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.
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.
Without further ado, let’s look at the Kompia making process.
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.
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!
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.
And this is the final product! So crunchy fresh from oven!
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:
The Fuzhou Snacks: Kompia by Life Is Like That, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Malaysia License.