When i am working in Kuching many years ago, my ex-colleagues who visited Sibu, Sarawak always brought back Kongpia as a hand gift. I remembered that the kong pia is rather small, flat and chewy and can be conveniently shoved into the baggage. By the time they reached my hand, it will be hard and when I wanted to eat it , I will have to heat it up over the stove and it will transform to a softer small chewy bagel .
That is the limited exposure I have about Kongpia, a very common Chinese biscuits among the Foochow worldwide .. Foochow is a dialect belonging to the northern part of Fujian Province, China. This biscuit has historical backgrounds and it was initially prepared as the food for the soldiers. Haha, imagine pooh bear is a soldier, she is bringing her food around on her neck.
“Kompia or kompyang (Chinese: 光餅; Minbei： guáng-biǎng; Mindong： guŏng-biāng; Hinghwa：gng-biâⁿ;Minnan: kiâm-kong-piáⁿ [鹹光餅]; Okinawan: 光餅 / コンペン konben; Malay: kompia or roti kompyang;Indonesian: kompia), is a bread product originates from Fuzhou, the capital city of Fujian Province of China. It is popular in Fujian and has spread to other areas including the Ryukyus, Taiwan, and parts of Southeast Asia including the Malaysian towns of Sitiawan, Sibu, Ayer Tawar, Sarikei, Bintangor and other places where the dominant Chinese community is of Foochow (Hokchiu) ancestry (where it is sometimes nicknamed “Foochow bagels“). Kompia was named after Qi Jiguang, who invented it, taking the idea from Japanese onigiri. When Qi Jiguang led his troops into Fujian in 1563, the Japanese pirates, fearing his name, engaged mainly in guerrilla-style battles. Qi Jiguang noticed that the Japanese pirates could always trace where his troops camped because of the smoke that rose up to the sky when the soldiers prepared their meals. He found out the Japanese pirates had no such problem because they brought onigiri with them. So Qi Jiguang invented a kind of bread with a hole in the center so that they could be strung together to be conveniently carried along. Later, to commemorate Qi Jiguang’s victory against the pirate raiders, the bread was named guáng-biǎng (lit. “Jiguangcake”). (继光饼）(Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kompyang)
Basically, that is the history of this biscuits traditionally well liked by the Foochow. However, in recent years, apparently, it was common with other dialects in Sarawak as well. It has become a snack that Sarawakian like to have with meat stuffed into the bagel look alike kongpia and some called it kongpia burger … I did realize the texture that was sold is much softer than what I have eaten ages ago.. The size are bigger too .. Possibly because of this changes that more and more foodies like this traditional biscuits.
If you Google kongpia or kompia in the internet, you will see many types and shapes. Some are very flat but some are big and soft.
As to which is authentic is up to individual’s guess. Personally, I will think that the salty, flat and chewy kongpia should be the one that suits the conditions in what has been written above. It must be dry to make it long lasting for the soldiers to carry with them. The current soft and big kompia will not be able to last long because there are too much moisture content.
This recipe can yield a soft kompia if you increase the size and thickness .. For this illustration, I have purposely shaped it to the flat kongpia that I used to know..
I have digested many recipes and come out with this recipe of my own. Despite its flat size, it yields a rather soft kong pia, still soft after 1 day. It is slightly crusty and chewy and it goes well with some minced meat. I am not sharing the preparation of the minced meat as I have never tasted with was is sold before.. In addition, besides meat version, there are some whom has eaten it with vegetables and I believed that there are tons of variations. Many people eat with butter and kaya too and therefore, I will leave it with readers to decide .. Anything that goes with burger can be eaten alike.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: Prepare 18-20 small size kongpia
- 150 grams of bread flour (high protein flour)
- 100 grams of top flour or cake flour (low protein flour)
- 155 grams or ml of lukewarm water.
- 10 grams of milk powder (optional)
- 40 grams of castor sugar
- 50 grams or ml of cooking oil
- 2 grams of salt
- 6 grams of instant yeast
- Adequate sesame seeds for dusting
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Put all the ingredients (except cooking oil) in the mixing bowl of a standing mixer, use the dough to beat the dough at medium speed until the dough are smooth (about 5-6 minutes). Add in the cooking oil, beat using high speed until the dough leaves the side of the mixing bowl (about 10 minutes). Transfer out to a lightly floured surface, shape round and let it proof until double in size . Timing will depend on the weather and usually it will take about 30 minutes in Singapore weather.
- Once it has double the size, punch the dough and flatten it to about 1 mm thickness using a rolling pin. Use a 5 cm diameter and cut the dough . If you want a bigger and fluffier kongpia, you can roll the dough thicker and cut a bigger circle say 8 cm diameter.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree Celsius.
- Transfer the round dough to a bowl of sesame seeds. Coat one side of the dough, transfer to the baking tray with the sesame side facing up, press it down, use a lightly greased chopstick to make a hole. Let it proof for another 15 minutes. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until your desired colour tone. The kongpia is best eaten fresh with meat, plain or other bread spreadable like butter and jam.
Remember if you want soft and fluffy kongpia, you have to make it slightly bigger, let it proof longer for the second proofing (say 30 minutes) and do not press so hard.. It will be bagel like kong pia. If you want traditional slightly chewy kongpia, just follow this recipe..
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