All dried up…

This is pian sip, the soup version of the meat dumplings…

Pian sip, soup
*Archive photo*

…the way we grew up eating them.

When I was young, we seldom ate out. Our house was not within walking distance and we could only get to town on a bicycle or by bus. Walking was completely out of the question. That was why we only got to eat at a coffee shop after the Sunday service in church and most of the time, we would go for the once-a-week treat of kampua noodles so the pian sip, soup had to take a back seat.

I did ask for the pian sip for a change on a few rare occasions and I can remember how hot it was and how I invariably ended up having to endure a burnt tongue the rest of the day. Perhaps that was why somebody came out with the idea of serving the dumplings dry…

Pian sip, dry
*Archive photo*

…or maybe they had them that way before, just that we did not know of it then.

Called kiaw in Kuching, ours are different from the wanton dumplings elsewhere – the skin is different. These days, you can buy it any day anytime at the wet market in town from the stalls selling tofu and taugeh (bean sprouts). I remember going to buy it once at a shop opposite the fire station here and one would have to buy by the kilo…and obviously, that would be a whole lot of skin! I don’t know if it was available at the market or not then but what I do know is at that time, one could buy the dried version of the skin…

Dried pian sip skin

…to cook at home and that was what my mum did quite regularly.

I have not eaten that for a long, long time now – ever since I got married or ever since we started living on our own. Maybe my missus never used to cook that – her house was a couple of minutes from the town so I guess whenever she felt like eating pian sip, she could just walk to the nearest coffee shop for that – no need to go through the hassle of cooking one’s own, those days when kampua noodles was 50 cents a plate, 30 cents without meat and my guess is a big bowl of pian sip at the time would be 50 cents as well.

The other day, I felt like cooking that so I went and bought a packet…

Dried pian sip skin, one packet

…from the shop near my house and no, it is not all that cheap at RM3.20 a packet, considering that you can get a pack of 5 packets of instant noodles for just a little bit more than that, less than RM4.00.

First, I boiled some water in a pot, half-filled, before adding 3 cloves of garlic and some meatballs…

Garlic and meatballs

…and when it had resumed boiling, I added a bit of chicken stock cube (in place of msg) and two tablespoons of fish sauce (in place of light soy sauce – we do not have that in the house). I let it simmer for a while to let the taste of the meat and everything come out and go into the soup…

Meatballs and soup

…before turning off the heat. Of course, there is no way of wrapping the meat in the skin so this is the only way one can go about cooking it.

I chopped some spring onions that I had growing outside our house and fried some sliced shallots in a bit of oil till golden brown…


…and put those aside for garnishing later. I also drizzled a bit of the shallot oil onto the soup for that delightful fragrance. Of course, it would be great if I had used lard instead of our regular cooking oil but I did not have any.

My mum would cook the dried pian sip skin in the soup and it would be all right come lunch time, still a lot of soup but we usually had one big pot of it and by dinnertime, it would have all dried up and all we had left to eat would be the skin and the meat, no soup. That was why I boiled the skin separately till soft and then place it in a bowl before adding the soup and the meatballs and garnishing…

Dried pian sip skin soup 1

There you are! It sure looked great, don’t you think? Well, take my word for it – it tasted great too…

Dried pian sip skin soup

…especially for someone like me who would enjoy anything in nice clear bone-stock soup.

Incidentally, I found that I had to boil the skin for quite a while. Initially, when it had turned soft, it would still be a little chewy, something along the same line as kueh chap, not quite like pian sip. Cooked pian sip skin is so very very soft and smooth one can just swallow without much chewing – just let it slide down your throat.

Of course, now that fresh pian sip skin is so easily available, one might as well go for that and wrap the meat inside, the way it should be. These dried ones would probably be good for sending to people elsewhere, especially the ones overseas who may happen to be craving for it…plus this would be a lot easier to keep for use.

Gee!!! This is my 3,000th post…with over 1,900,000 views and over 80,000 comments. Not too bad, eh? For a small-time blogger from a small town where nothing much ever happens. Thank you all for your support – keep dropping by and do feel free to comment…anytime. Always love to hear from you…and yes, a very Blessed Easter to one and all!