Makansutra: Savour these little treats while you still can
These much-loved bites could well disappear when the older generation hang up their pots
You may see them around now and then - artisanal snacks found at street hawker stalls and shops offering a melange of little bites.
Things such as handmade soon kueh, lopes (triangular glutinous rice parcels in gula melaka sauce and grated coconut), appam, ang ku kueh, putu mayam and kueh tutu.
While many have resorted to offering these from their home kitchens to tide over the difficult Covid-19 pandemic, these folks may hang up their pots once some sense of normalcy kicks back in.
I sense that some of these delicious snacks may disappear sooner than expected as they are well-loved but not so commonly eaten.
Maxwell Fuzhou Oyster Cake
Maxwell Food Centre #01-05; Opens 9am to 8pm, closed on Sundays
I first ate this at a side lane stall off Tras Street back in the 70s and early 80s, before they roosted at Maxwell Food Centre.
The matriarch, Madam Pang Siew Ting, who hailed from Fuzhou, died a few months back and her daughter, Madam Hoon, and her son-in-law, Mr Goh, who are in their 60s, now helm the little stall.
He said: "It is tedious to make the minced meat marinade, oyster, prawn, coriander and batter, and the task of frying them one by one is taking its toll on us."
But the hard work shows up in the quality.
They brown up the batter nicely with crispy edges, the minced meat filling is moist, the prawns are crunchy and the oysters juicy.
The coriander gives it a garden fresh aroma.
No family members or younger generation down the line are keen to take over, which means this oyster cake is set to fade into the night.
It is not easy to make and not many will eat this regularly - it is deep-fried, after all - so the couple rely on their regulars.
Lao Liang Pig Trotter Jelly & Shark Meat
Berseh Food Centre #02-37; Opens 10am to 2.30pm, closed on Tuesdays
There are fewer than five hawker stalls I know of that offer and specialise in this Teochew delicacy.
Ah Lao and his wife are already in their 70s and do not have much energy left to continue their humble business for much longer.
I have not seen anyone doing such fare at home, only in selected few restaurants.
They begin at 4am each day, boiling the pork and skin in a light soya broth till it becomes collagenous.
They are chilled in little containers, sliced upon order and served.
The blue ginger and garlic vinegar chilli is handmade - this dip alone is not a two-step, blend-and-store process.
Upon retirement, I hope they continue to cook this part-time from home for delivery.
They no longer sell the traditional shark meat version as it is banned.
Rempeyek and Rose Crackers
Online orders only from Jemmah's Kitchen's Facebook or call 8742-8349
Often handmade in factories and sold in big plastic jars, these are moreish.
It is hard to stop eating them, and the artisanal, handmade ones from home kitchens like Jemmah's are in a class of their own.
The couple running it live humbly in a one-room flat but the pride they put into making each of these little nut and ikan bilis-laden crackers (rempeyek) is touching.
They even infuse hints of kaffir lime leaves into the crackers and fry them in fresh hot oil.
It does not turn rancid and is still crispy after a week.
Their rose crackers are thinner, crumbly and light - a joy to snack on with your favourite kopi or tea, or have over a plate of nasi padang.