How many of you have tasted good Kong Peah? Well, if you have, most likely this scene will be familair to you as good Kong Peah are best eaten hot and fresh. And while queing up for the ones which are fresh from the oven, you would most likely witness this scene. For those wwho do not know what is Kong Peah (光餅), it is actually charcoal oven baked biscuit made popular in Setiawan. To be exact Foochow community towns, including towns in Sarawak. They have a few variants, the original plain ones with onion fillings, the meat fillings (char siew like filling - the one with the sesame seed in the photo below) and some said they have vegetables/preserved vegetable fillings.
"Kompyang was named after Qi Jiguang, who invented it, taking the idea from Japanese onigiri. When Qi Jiguang led his troops into Fujian in 1562, the Japanese pirates, fearing his name, engaged mainly in guerrilla-style battles. Qi Jiguang noticed that the Japanese pirates could always trace where his troops camped because of the smoke that rose up to the sky when the soldiers prepared their meals. He found out the Japanese pirates had no such problem because they brought onigiri with them. So Qi Jiguang invented a kind of cake with a hole in the center so that they could be strung together to be conveniently carried along. Later, to commemorate Qi Jiguang's victory against the pirate raiders, the cakes were named guang bing."
-Quoted From Wikipedia
Gong Pian/Kong Peah/Kompyang/Guang-biang/Kom-pia, whatever dialect or pronunciation you attempt, it's one of the must have if you make a trip to Setiawan. Cheong Cia is a household name a local from Setiawan would bring you for good Kong Peahs.
This is the playground of the maestro. A piece of Kong Peah dough, after divided into further smaller portions, is then flattened using a rolling pin. Onions is normally used as the filling. The peeling and cutting of onions have indeed drawn a lot of flies to this area. Hence, a glue board (fly trap) would be necessary to ensure you do not get extra toppings/fillings on your biscuit.
Baking time would be approximately 10-15 minutes. I didn't really timed the baking process but I used the queieing time as my estimation. Kong Piah baking process is similar to baking a piece of Naan or Heong Peah. Yes, using charcoal and a traditional clay/brick oven to ensure a smoky fragrant aroma...
A stainless steel plate is used to direct the wind from the fan into the furnace. This is to ensure the amber from the charcoal keep glowing and to create well distributed heat circulation in the oven. When the biscuits are ready, a stick and a spade like equipment will be used to "harvest" the biscuits which would easily peel of the walls of the oven. Sign that they are baked to perfection.
At 80 cents a piece, one person would normally buy at average 10 pieces, at least. That is why one batch from an oven would most likely cater to 2-3 customers ahead of you in the queue. Thank goodness they have 3 ovens running at full capacity!
I took some leftover Kong Piah back to Ipoh and reheated them for my parents. Took a bite and found it to be still cripsy but still have the chewy and hard exterior. Nothing beats the oven fresh ones. Crackling pastry skin/crust just like a piece of Shanghai Pancake (Woh Peang). The hot onion fillings coupled with lard released a pleasant aroma inside your mouth on every bite. The next time around, I will drive up to Setiawan again with my parents for a seafood meal and oven fresh Kong Piah experience.... soon =)