Monday, February 11, 2013

TA Chee Cheong Fun

Anybody who visits Teluk Intan should not come away without tasting the famous TA Chee Cheong Fun (安顺猪肠粉). Well, almost...  My remark has to be addressed to non-Muslim visitors as the CCF is not halal. Besides the leaning clock tower, I think the next thing that Teluk Intan is most famous for is the CCF.

After our dinner at the Tai Chong Seafood Restaurant, YF drove us to Jalan Hill to order our CCF. We had to make our orders the night before for collection the next morning. The place he brought us to was a small family house. Beside it was a small production kitchen where they made the CCF.

Liew Kee or Ah Lek is perhaps the original TA CCF maker in Teluk Intan. Certainly, I think they are the best. There are other TA CCF producers in town and even outside Teluk Intan. But in quality and taste, I do not think any of them could match Ah Lek.

In the kitchen, they have a big conveyor steaming machine. The place may be a little messy, but they are very efficient. When we got there about 9.00pm, they were taking a break. They work only at night, starting at about 5.00pm and stopping production at about 6.00am.

The lady in charge took my order. I asked for 25 packets - for distribution to 4 families back home. At RM4 per packet, I dished out RM100. This was the first time ever that I spent 100 bucks just on CCF. She told me come back early next morning. She said she would not be around and showed me the table where she would leave my CCF. She asked me for my car number and said the number would be written on my package.

I told her I wanted to take some pictures of the steaming process. She quickly obliged and got up from her rest to restart production. The CCF was made from a liquid rice mixture. The ingredients comprising dried shrimps, diced sengkuang (jicama), minced pork and other trade secrets, were pre-cooked separately. The steaming machine was a conveyor belt. She poured a small amount of the liquid rice mixture into a large tray, sprinkled a generous amount of the ingredients and pushed the tray into the conveyor steamer.

The tray moved through the steamer on the conveyor. When it emerged at the other side, the CCF was cooked.

A worker skillfully took up the trays and rolled the CCF...

And they turned out mouth-wateringly like so. I could't help but be fascinated and impressed.

Next morning, I woke up early and drove to the kitchen. Sure enough, on the table was my order of CCF with my car number clearly written. The individual packets were wrapped in plastic sheets and newspapers. They were still very warm to the touch. They must had made them not long before I came to pick them.

I took them back to our hotel. We made some coffee and sat down to eat the freshly made CCF. They were delicious. The noodle was soft and smooth. The ingredient were plentiful and tasty. The dry shrimps in particular were crispy and delightful. It tasted infinitely better fresh. We had a packet each and thoroughly enjoyed it.

As relished our packets, I remembered when I was a young boy, my father used to tar pau (打包) this CCF for our breakfasts. In those day, each packet was only for 10 cents. The packets were not as big as they are now; still they were just a small fraction of the current price. Just as in the good old days, it was a perfect breakfast. Sated, we got back into bed and continued with our sleep.

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