Monday, January 30, 2012

Folding Thnee Kong Kim

For the Jade Emperor's Birthday celebration on the 9th day of the Chinese New Year, one of the symbolic offerings is the burning of joss paper for the Jade Emperor. The use of the large gold stamped joss paper know as the god of heaven's joss paper (天公金) has become a must for those who prays to the Jade Emperor on his birthday. This joss paper can be folded into different shapes and also stacked and crafted into beautiful joss paper pineapples; some of them so large and beautiful that you can't help but feel that it is a waste for the pineapple to end up in smoke at the end of the ceremony.

As a child, I have always enjoyed folding thnee kong kim. It is like the run-up to the Jade Emperor's Birthday celebration; gets you all hyped up for the big day. There are two basic design of joss gold ingot (金元宝) used as a symbolic offering to the Jade Emperor, one that looks like a boat-shaped ingot with a very long keel, which you open out and tuck the keel into one of the sides (though most people do not push the keel in) and another that you 'pull' open to make it look like the shape of a Chinese gold ingot. For the 'pulled' type gold ingots, smaller versions can be made from the same sized joss paper and are merely paper size reductions and variant folding methods.

The joss paper used is the large, somewhat squarish joss paper that has the three lucky stars - the God of Prosperity, Longevity and Authority in the middle and either a patch of gold in the center or like what I have gotten this year, the entire paper covered in gold-like foil. The back of the joss paper is plain, with nothing printed on it.

This joss paper offering, like the food offering, is symbolic. It is like a silent prayer to God of your heart's wishes without having to say it out loud. For example, offering tortoise buns is like saying "I wish for a long and peaceful life", and joss money says "Bless me with good fortune" as you cannot burn real money (firstly it is a waste, and secondly, money was made from metal in the olden days; you will need a kiln to melt it!). Be careful with burning a truckload of joss money for it might send the message that I am a greedy b@s†@rd to the Big Boss up there!!

Here is a step by step guide to fold the 'pulled' type joss gold ingot. I will post a video of the steps when I get to editing the video.

Step 1
Fold the paper into two equal halves, making sure you divide the God of Prosperity into half lengthwise (his left eye touches his right eye when you fold the paper together). Do NOT fold him into half and make his head meet his crotch - this is the folding for the boat-type joss gold ingot. Fold each section again into halves, thus dividing the paper into four lengthwise sections with three creases.
This is a piece of thnee kong kim. Fold it in half right down the center by bringing the two sides together.
Then fold the paper again by bringing the edge to the center crease. Do the same for the other side.

Step 2
Fold the end corners into the paper, forming a pointed end. Do the same for the other end. You will end up with a rectangular shape with two triangular ends.
Fold the corners in up to the 'middle line'. You will get the blue coloured crease line as shown in the picture. Shown here is the 'inside' of the joss paper.
This is the same paper, but viewed from the 'exposed' side with the three lucky stars.

Step 3
Determine the 'exposed' side of the joss paper. This is the side with the three lucky stars - the God of Prosperity, Longevity and Authority. You now fold the paper in the middle, hiding the 'exposed' side. From this step on, you are working on the inner part of the joss gold ingot.
Shown here is the inside face of the joss paper. Make the two pointy ends meet by folding over to cover the 'exposed' side.
This is the 'exposed' side of the joss paper. When you bring the two pointy ends together, you will be 'hiding' this side for the time being and you should it looking like the next picture.
This is what you should get at the end of step 3. The blue lines are where you should fold in the flaps in the next step.

Step 4
Fold in one of the sides with a width of about 2cm. Do the same for the other side, making sure that the two folded flaps are as similar in terms of width as possible.
This is how the paper should look like after folding in the flaps on both sides.

Step 5
Now it gets a little trickier. Open the flap, and by pressing on the bottom tab to form a pocket, fold one side of the flap over. This holds the paper in the gold ingot shape when opened later. Do the same for the other side, making sure that the bottom pocket formed are leveled and you can draw an imaginary horizontal line across the top of the bottom pocket.
Press the 'bottom flap' open and fold the flaps over the side (light blue arrows), and tuck one flap on each side (facing side and back). Do the same for the other side (dark blue arrows).
When the side flaps are opened up, make sure that the top end of the 'bottom pocket' can form an imaginary horizontal line connecting the two pockets (broken green line).

Step 6
Fold the pointed end of the paper down, the crease is at the imaginary line made by the top end of the bottom pocket. Do the same for the other flap on the other side, making sure that the you have creased both the folds strongly.
Fold the pointy flap foward and downwards, making a crease (blue line) where the top part of the 'bottom pocket' was. Do the same for the other flap on the other side and make sure that the crease at the imaginary line is done clearly. You will need it to get a good gold ingot shape at the end of the process.
Make sure that both sides have strong creases at where the green broken line is. Once you have done that, fold over one of the flaps, and that would reveal the 'exposed' side as in the following picture.

Step 7
You are now working with the 'exposed' side on the outside, indicating that you are almost done. Fold the paper down the middle crease, which was the first one that was made in the folding process. Make sure both sides are aligned and the the two ends have pointed forms.
Fold the joss paper down along the center crease that was the first fold made in the very first step. Try to align the tips and make sure that both halves are like a mirror image of the other. Your joss paper should look like the next picture below.

Step 8
To open the joss paper into the ingot shape, either hold near to the center crease (but not locking onto the inner flap) and gently pull it apart and downwards or, place your fingers underneath and ease the two halves apart. With a few finishing strokes to make sure that the joss paper opens fully, you get you joss paper gold ingot.
Hold a the two ends (indicated by the blunt end of the blue arrow) and pull the two sides apart and downwards.
Gently ease the paper open to prevent the center section from tearing. You might still need to use your fingers and push the paper back along the creases and folds to ensure that it takes on the Chinese gold ingot shape.
And...voila! Now you can 'make money' lol!

Here's a video of me folding the Thnee Kong Kim. Thanks to Jessica Henshall for shooting it for me.

It is that simple to fold the joss paper gold ingot for the Jade Emperor. You can use plain, coloured paper or gold coloured paper to fold it and use it as a decoration (hint - make it smaller and fill plain glass bottles with it).

UPDATE : Click here to read on how to fold the Boat-type Thnee Kong Kim, posted for the 2013 Chinese New Year.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cheh Hu/Cheh Hoo (Chinese Pasembur) - Penang Hawker Food

One of the hawker food available in Penang is Cheh Hoo/Cheh Hu. This is actually a Chinese version of the Pasembur/Pasembor Mamak. My family and I went to the Batu Lanchang Market Food Court for lunch and I ordered the Cheh Hu from the stall that had been featured before in a local TV food show called Ho Chak!

This Batu Lanchang Market's Food Court Cheh Hu (峇都蘭樟鮮魚/峇都兰樟鲜鱼) stall was doing brisk business when we arrived, and if you are afraid that they might not be able to locate you after taking your order, then it is best to tell them you will self-serve (this usually leads to a shorter wait as they don't have to spend time looking for you amidst the crowd and also they will prioritise your order as to clear you off from the front of the stall). Over here, the price for a small plate is RM3 without jellyfish and RM 4 if you want it with jellyfish.
Chinese Pasembor/Pasembur a.k.a. Cheh Hu/Cheh Hoo (鮮魚/鲜鱼). This is a popular stall that was featured in a local Malaysian food review show called Ho Chak! The yellowish, frilly looking stuff at the lower right hand corner of the plate is jellyfish that was added to the dish.

The name Cheh Hu/Cheh Hoo (鮮魚/鲜鱼) is a misnomer of sorts. The name literally translated implies that it is raw or fresh fish. However, there is no fish meat (raw or otherwise) in the dish, and the only thing that comes close to that is the addition of jellyfish that has been poached.

The dish usually contains shredded cucumber, jicama (sengkuang), fried bean curd (tau kua), crispy fritters, poached jellyfish and served with a sweet potato gravy and crushed peanuts. You can request for the gravy to be hotter, through the addition of chilli sauce. If you rather not eat jellyfish, then you can opt for one that has no jellyfish included.

The dish is good as a snack or an appetiser, however ordering a large helping might prove to be very filling. The texture provided by the various ingredients, together with the contrasting flavours of the fresh jicama and cucumbers with the crunchy fritters and jellyfish, melded together by the sweet and slightly hot sauce will tantalise your taste-buds.

Batu Lanchang Wet Market is located on Lebuhraya Batu Lanchang off Jalan Masjid Negeri (Greenlane). If you are coming from town, go down Jalan Masjid Negeri until you pass Lam Wah Ee Hospital, then the old folks home (Rumah Orang Tua Uzur. A Petronas petrol station comes up next in which you turn left at the next major junction into Lebuhraya Batu Lanchang.

Go down the road and head for the market. Turn left into the market at the junction after the bus stop and park at the parking lot. The food court is located on the left of the market (if you are standing facing the market). There is a small Tua Pek Kong (大伯公 also known as 福 德 正 神) temple at the side of the food court so you should be able to spot it easily.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year 2012

Happy Chinese New Year!
It is the Year of the Water Dragon. Wishing everyone a Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year. Due to work and many things cropping up, I have many post that I need to work on before posting. So let me post this first before going back to work on the rest. Hope the Year of the Water Dragon brings you lots of joy and happiness, money and success, and may all your wishes come true.

Fireworks from the next road, before it rained heavily on the first day of CNY.

I am looking forward to getting some joss paper and folding it for the Jade Emperor's Birthday which falls on the 9th day of Chinese New Year (the celebration starts from the night of the 8th day).

And here's some Nepenthes ampullaria pics from my hometown. Three types are shown here: a green one, a red patchy one from Gunung Ledang and BE's Brunei Red (BE 3285 = William Red x harlequin) from Fauzi. Unlike my Christmas stocking, there were no gifts nor money inside the monkey cups, just dead insects...
Green Nepenthes ampullaria.
Nepenthes ampullaria 'Gunung Ledang'. It is growing from a plastic container that I had used to strike it.
Nepenthes ampullaria 'Brunei Red'.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chinese New Year is Coming Up

The year of the Dragon is coming up. Preparations for CNY can be seen at local community centres and shopping complexes. Here's a post of the many things that indicate the lunar new year is coming up

1. Giant caterpillar green dragon going down the road (12 January 2012).

The float headed towards Pekan Ampang, complete with police outriders. There's a group of people with a smaller dragon coiled around a pole supporting a lighted 'pearl'.

2. Temple brightly lit at night. The Ampang Nan Tian Gong lit by red lanterns as well as the lighted pagodas.
Ampang Nan Tian Gong all lit up for the coming Chinese New Year.

3. Shopping complexes with Chinese New Year decoration and activities.
A large dragon at the atrium of Pavillion, KL.
Dragons that 'go through' the walls of Pavillion, KL.
A huge calamansi lime tree at Mid Valley Megamall.
A lion dance troupe getting ready for a performance at the Centre Court of Mid Valley Megamall.
Chinese New Year decoration at Gardens Mall, Mid Valley, KL.

4. Local markets packed with last minute shoppers.
I went to Jelutong Market in Penang on the morning of the 22 January 2012 and found the market was jam-packed with shoppers doing last minute shopping.
Market seller selling pumpkins and calabash gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) as Chinese New Year decorations. Considered auspicious by the local Chinese, the gourds and pumpkin by this seller has been sprayed with something to make it look shiny and plastic-like.
Flowers on sale in buckets.
Decorative red cloth for altar tables and doors.
Various Chinese New Year decorations on sale at Jelutong Market, Penang.
New Year cake - this is something that I have not seen for some time. It is just a butter pound cake with a cherry on top.
Hmm, even the God of Prosperity goes to the market.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Yippee! Threaded comments in Blogger

Thank you Blogger, as we finally have threaded commenting in Blogger. It so much easier to determined who wrote what to whom. I would miss writing one long comment to answer all the other comments though, lol.

For those who do not have their feeds to full and use embedded commenting would have to make changes to allow threaded commenting. Now blogging in blogger is even better.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year 2012

Ahh, a new year...It is now 2012. Stood at a friend's balcony, watching fireworks from Spectrum at Bandar Baru Ampang go off as well as those in the KLCC area. So this post is just pics and a video clip.
Great balls of fire to welcome 2012 at Spectrum in Bandar Baru Ampang.

The countdown event that was going on at Spectrum Shopping Complex included a 'car show' where there were cars dressed with lights, cars with boom boxes blasting away and even one that was showing off the exhaust burns.
The people waiting at the shopping complex for the countdown. We have 'first class seats' at a penthouse balcony thanks to J & A.

The greens, purples and reds. All this time fireworks were going off all around KL.
More balls of fire from Spectrum - green and gold ones. The whole horizon on Cheras side was also lined with fireworks going off. Unfortunately, we were on the KL facing side and so I  didn't managed to photograph it.
The last few seconds of the fireworks at KLCC. You can see the smoke from all the fireworks drifting away in the picture.

Here's a compiled clip of the fireworks that went off at Spectrum as a few seconds of those at KLCC/Bukit Bintang area.