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The birth place of Hainanese Chicken Rice Ball ?

As a Muarian, I knew Hainan chicken rice ball was footed and invented in Muar, not Melaka. In other word, Melaka is hijacking Muar for the original birth place of Hainan chicken rice ball.

Tribute should go to the Hainanese

SINGAPORE and Malaysia’s claim to Hainanese chicken rice and Malacca’s claim to chicken rice balls (The Star, Sept 24) all lack historical perspective.

If there is anyone who has a moral legitimacy to stake a claim for this dish, they must surely be the people in the Wenchang district of Hainan Island, China.

Even today, Wenchang is still famous for its chicken rice and chicken. While the rice may lack the condiments to satisfy the tastebuds of epicureans, the chicken is something else, especially those from around the town of Jiazie.

When commenting on food on Hainan Island, gourmets should remember that the Hainanese only recently emerged from subsistence and lag far behind Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in many things, including food preparation and presentation. They are like Singaporeans and Malaysians Chinese in the 1960s and 1970s.

Most Hainanese in Malaysia and Singapore came from the Wenchang district and it was only natural that they brought this know-how with them.

Even as a pre-schooler in the early 1940s, I was having chicken rice and chicken rice balls prepared by my mother who had come to Malaya in the 1930s.

Chicken rice balls and plain rice balls originated in Hainan out of necessity. My ancestors were practical people who compressed rice into balls to be brought to their place of work as lunch.

Chicken and chicken rice were festive fare and for the Qing Ming festival, chicken rice balls and chicken were offerings to the dead. The descendants could then easily partake of the offerings at the grave sites.

The origin of chicken rice and chicken rice ball is lost in antiquity but its presence in Hainan predates Singapore and Malaysian claims by more than a hundred years.

The person who taught the Jonker Street chicken rice ball vendor the art came from Wenchang.

To the true connoisseurs of chicken rice, may I add that unless and until you have eaten chicken rice prepared with a castrated free-range cockerel, you have not tasted the real McCoy.

To dress ourselves in borrowed robes is one thing, but to embellish and to call them our own is downright thievery!


Muar labourers enjoyed Hainanese chicken rice

I REFER to “Now, Malacca claims Hainanese chicken rice” (The Star, Sept 24).

Back in the 1960s, ships from Indonesia and Singapore carrying charcoal, rice etc, called regularly at the Muar harbour.

Labourers, called coolies, who were mostly Chinese belonging to the Fukien and Teochews clans, would carry the cargo on their shoulders for loading on to the lorries for transport to other smaller towns and villages.

During their lunch break, they tended to buy Hainanese chicken rice from a coffeeshop named Mui Hup facing the OCBC bank near the jetty.

The woman stallholder would roll the chicken rice into balls, and add sauce and chilli and pack them for the coolies. They ate just rice as it was cheaper.

It got popular and other customers would come for lunch, and buy packs as well as for picnics.

I remember the stall serving chicken rice balls being there long before Malacca’s.

The original shop has been rebuilt and the woman’s descendants are operating other businesses in another part of Muar.

Mr X,

Petaling Jaya.

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