Rojak chiam-chiam still in demand after 30 years


Khor showing the variety of skewer items at his rojak chiam-chiam stall outside the Sultan Abdul Halim College in Jalan Langgar, Alor Setar.

KHOR Mui Seng has been selling rojak chiam-chiam in his motorised hawker stall outside the Sultan Abdul Halim College (KSAH) in Jalan Langgar, Alor Setar in Kedah, for more than 30 years.

Those passing by the college will be curious to check out the huge crowd gathered around Khor’s stall, which makes it appear as though there is a commotion going on.

The rojak chiam-chiam (chiam-chiam is a Hokkien word, which means skewer) which Khor sells at his stall, offers a variety of fruits, seafood, fishballs, tofu skin, quail eggs, preserved fruits and others.

Instead of dipping the skewer of food items into various soups, like the lok-lok (skewered food which is dipped into a hot boiling pot of water to be cooked), rojak chiam-chiam is served cold with the skewers dipped into rojak sauce, which is made using shrimp paste.

Khor spends hours every morning to make the rojak paste where crushed peanuts are mixed into the sauce to give it the extra kick.
Khor uses fruits, seafood, fishballs and tofu skin as ingredients for his skewers.

Just watching his customers dip the skewers of food items and fruits into the homemade rojak sauce, can make one drool.

Khor, 64, a grandfather of eight, said he prepares three bowls of rojak sauce every day, with different levels of spiciness.

“I add crushed peanuts to the sauce to give the extra oomph!

“My ingredients are bought fresh from the market each morning because whatever is left overnight cannot be used the next morning as the taste will be different,” he said.

Khor added that he had worked as a helper at a well-known rojak chiam-chiam stall in Butterworth, Penang, many years ago.

“It is not easy to get the right flavour for the rojak sauce.

“People used to complain initially but after several times of trial and error, I managed to get it right,” he said when met at his stall yesterday.

Khor said there were more than 60 rojak chiam-chiam stalls in Alor Setar at one time, but now there is less than 10.

“We are a dying breed now but my business is just enough to cari makan (earn a living),” he said, adding that his five children, who pursued higher education and have their own careers, were not keen on taking over his business.

Khor said what’s unique about his business is that his customers were a multi-racial crowd of all ages.

Sometimes, he claimed that there would be more than 15 people patronising his stall at any one time.

Khor uses fruits, seafood, fishballs and tofu skin as ingredients for his skewers.
Khor spends hours every morning to make the rojak paste where crushed peanuts are mixed into the sauce to give it the extra kick.

“I’m happy that people of different races and from far and near come to my stall,” he said.

KSAH student Nur Nadzifa Nidzam, 19, said, rojak chiam-chiam is also known as rojak tonggeng as those eating the dish would have to bend their bodies and show their back while eating it.

She said she enjoyed patronising Khor’s stall as there is a variety of food items to choose from.

Housewife Zaleha Nordin, 44, has been patronising the stall since she was eight.

“Among the older generation, this dish is called rojak cucuk.

“I come here twice a week and I’m now a close friend of Uncle Khor,” she said.

Cheah Beng Tong, 58, said he visited the stall because of the unique taste of the spicy sauce.

Besides rojak chiam-chiam, Khor also sells drinks and snacks at his stall.

He is assisted by his wife and the couple man the stall daily from 4pm to midnight, except on the days when they have functions to attend.

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