Love letters from the heart and soul

One-woman show: Hee showing the pieces of kuih kapit baked in moulds over the stove at her rented shoplot in Lebuh McNair in George Town, Penang. — LIM BENG TATT/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: From boba milk tea to kuih kapit (love letters), there’s nothing Hee Swee Yen doesn’t put her heart and soul into with the food she makes.

These days, Hee has been busy producing kuih kapit, a skill she picked up in her teenage years.

She would wake up as early as 3am daily to prepare the batter.

The 43-year-old single mother of two gets the preparations done all by herself. These include making the batter, baking, rolling the delicacy and packaging.

Hee is not keen on hiring any help because she wants to maintain the quality of her kuih kapit.

“I just want to keep my standards up,” she said.

Her venture into kuih kapit making began when she closed her boba milk tea and Taiwanese sausage business in Balik Pulau during the movement control order.

“For the past 17 years, I have been baking kuih kapit but only during the festive time.

“So, when I closed my business two years ago, I thought why not fall back on this skill of making kuih kapit?

“I had learnt it during my teenage years and improvised over the years,” she said as she rolled thin slices of kuih kapit at her rented shoplot in Lebuh McNair here.

Hee said she would usually start making the love letters a month before the festive celebration.

“By Chinese New Year, I expect to deliver 100 containers of kuih kapit, each containing over 100 pieces,” she added.

Hee said she takes pride in her recipe as “everything is done from scratch”.

The batter, she said, contains more eggs and coconut milk so that the love letters are more fragrant and crispier.“For each kilogramme of flour, I use over 100 eggs,” she said.

“By doing everything on my own, I get to control the fire and consistency of production throughout the day.”

Hee said her son, 20, and daughter, 16, would sometimes help her.

To promote the traditional must-have for Chinese New Year, Hee said she allowed tourists coming near her shoplot to try out samples, with some even getting a hands-on experience in making the love letters.

“Visitors get to learn about the tradition of making kuih kapit. They take photos and even end up buying them.

“I’ve started selling to walk-in customers as supplying to wholesalers reduces my profit margin,” she said.

Hee’s kuih kapit sells for RM34 to RM40 per container depending on the size.

Besides kuih kapit, she also bakes peanut, almond and green pea cookies, as well as pineapple tarts.

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