Culinary skills a boon for hotel exec-turned-chef

Family affair: Chu tying a dumpling with a string as her husband Fachroedin arranges the leaves. — ART CHEN/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: For Nur Basirah Debbie Chu, her love for food and her great culinary skills have become a lifeline for her family after her job was affected during the movement restriction period.

Having gone through a series of pay cuts and unpaid leave since last year, the hotel purchasing executive decided to trade in her desk job for an apron by churning out various types of halal Chinese dumplings.

Recalling the hard times, the 38-year-old from Taman Melur in Ampang said it was challenging for her and her husband as their youngest daughter is only a year old.

“Our usual combined salaries put us in the T20 group so we were not entitled to any form of aid.

“Although the temporary moratorium and withdrawal from our retirement savings helped, we still had to dig into our savings eventually for our daily expenses,” she said.

The couple then decided to do something to ensure their survival.

The idea of selling Chinese dumplings, said Chu, came from her mother during a phone call.

“I could not travel back to Melaka to visit my mum so she jokingly said I should try making the Nyonya dumpling myself using our family recipe.

“I did what she said, replacing the usual pork with chicken and fine-tuning the ingredients to ensure the meat doesn’t dry up during the cooking process.

“Then I gave some to my friends and neighbours and they loved it. Many also said they wanted to buy these dumplings from me,” said Chu, whose dumplings have since become a hit among those in her local community.

With help from her husband Fachroedin Abdul Rahman, Chu now offers a variety of sweet and savoury homemade halal dumplings through orders from her Facebook page and online food delivery platforms.

Other than the usual dumplings featuring chicken meat, salted egg yolk, mushroom and braised peanuts, there are also the Nyonya chicken dumplings and crystal dumplings (kee chang) with red bean and peanut filling.

The couple is also fine-tuning recipes for beef dumplings and yam puff – a soft and crispy pastry with roasted meat filling that is commonly found at dim sum restaurants.

“My wife has a knack for learning new dishes and making them better with a twist. So we are working on fine-tuning several recipes.

“We want to do something different by coming out with various delicious Chinese dishes that are halal so they can be enjoyed by all.

“It feels great when people enjoy our food. All the hard work has paid off,” said Fachroedin, adding that they would continue their food business.

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