Many Teochew seek their fortunes in Shenzhen, the Silicon Valley of China, and with that their brought their hometown cuisine.
Chaozhou 潮州 is an ancient city that dates back to the Han dynasty and got its name finally in the Song dynasty. My ancestors came from Chaozhou Fu 潮州府城 – the city’s capital. And what is known as Teochew, it consists of a greater area of eight counties beside which are distinctly different. The Teochew diaspora is mainly from one of these eight counties.
Puning 普宁 is the main city of Jieyang County 揭阳县. Besides famous for Teochew in embedded porcelain, Puning is also famous for its wonderful spring water and tofu. So when an eatery is named Puning, you know it is Teochew cuisine it is offering.
It is heartwarming to see that the Teochew supper culture to be similar in Singapore as well as in Shenzhen. One hallmark of the Teochew supper is the spread of cooked items, like braised goose, cooked fish and other stews and braise. I ordered a cold flower crab from the assortment of delicacies present.
I always like raw marinated crabs, but given the special circumstance I decided to give it a miss. (This is the beginning of my journey out of quarantine, and the sensitivity to any symptoms makes me decide not to take the risk of another food poisoning.)
Despite the small appearance of the shop, I am surprised to find a wide variety of live seafood too. I picked a couple of items from the tank and basins.
First up, the cold flower crab 冻花蟹. The sweet taste of the crab was excellent but it was slightly disappointing because it had no roe and rather skinny. And it was the most expensive item on the menu.
This is cultivated shrimps available only in China called the greasyback or marsh shrimp 基围虾 and it thrived in brackish water. It is characterised by the sweetness, size and crunchiness of the cooked shrimps. And the best way to cook it is just to simply boiled it in water with slices of ginger and stalks of spring onions.
The Chinese name is call rolled pork 裹肉 but it has minced pork, minced shrimp and water chestnut in them. And to add to the flavour, Chen has added a piece of pork lard. The filling is then wrapped in bean curd skin and deep fried. One of the yummiest specimen I have found in the wild.
The next dish up is a supper favourite because it has no fats and almost no calories. You take a bamboo skewer and pick out the tiny morsels of flesh from the salt and pepper sea whelk 椒盐海螺. The mollusc has no taste but borrowed the taste from the salt and pepper.
Stir-fry HK kailan 炒芥蓝 is a local vegetable and cooked with salted fish. The salty fish imparted the umami to the crunchy kailan, giving it the smokiness at the same time.
And all these were washed down with a hot bowl of oyster and minced pork porridge 蚝仔碎肉粥.
The shop is located in a residential compound. You might have to alight outside the guard post and walk around 100m into the compound through a really badly-lit road. But the lights and activity somewhere down the dark road is indicative of a really popular eatery.
Just because of the location, it is not a cheap eat. Be prepared to pay upwards of ¥100 per pax.
Puning Chan Kee 普宁（陈记）食店
Tel : 0755-82527602
Date Visited : Nov 2020