Hakka Pestle Tea Rice/Ham Cha Farn/Looi Cha Farn

This dish is from the Chinese migratory Hakka dialect group and is several hundred years old. The Hakkas, especially this sub-group called Ho Poh , have a unique tradition regarding this dish as medicinal, a detox meal which is also reputed to boost metabolism and servet his supersalad, with 7 types of vegetables, on the seventh day of Chinese New Year just like the cantonese tradition of serving Yee Sang which most chinese are accustomed to.

Ham Cha Farn(salty tea), Looi Cha Farn(ground tea) or Thunder Rice, has a lot of variations. The tea used ,be it green or black signifies and determine the flavour and taste of the dish. It is sometimes kept simple by grinding the tea, add salt to taste and hot boiling water, to make a broth. However others may add roasted peanuts, sesame seeds or both together with the tea leaves and herbs like mint, basil, perilla and saw coriander, in the grinding process to make into an almost medicinal tea broth. This alters the flavour of the dish significantly. The taste however, is not for everyone. Some find it enervating and refreshing, others do not like the bitter or strong herbal notes.

The essential ingredients are Farn(Cooked Rice), which can be puffed rice (mee chang) or rice grains fried with garlic and a little oil, prior to cooking and three of the seven ingredients which will determine a good Ham Cha Farn/Looi Cha Farn are dried shrimps, choy poh(preserved radish) and firm tofu. These three are to be sauted and seasoned with sugar and white pepper..

To complement the tea and rice, a wide variety of carefully selected vegetables (including blanched long beans, cabbage, carrots, four-angled beans, chye sim, celery, are used. It should be noted that meat and fish is seldom added to this diah as the the main idea is to eat lots of vegetables, making this dish cheap, hearty , nutritious and a fibre-rich.

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