Friday, 30 September 2011
Memories of Little Horse 馬仔
After my recent dim sum feast at Croydon's Tai Tung, I popped into the adjacent Wing Yip supermarket to do some food shopping. Whilst stocking up on bits and bobs, I clapped eyes on an old childhood favourite: ma zai 馬仔, which roughly translates as 'little horse'.
It's also known in Chinese as sha kei ma 沙琪瑪 or saat kei ma 薩其馬, and there are various English translations such as 'Soft Flour Cake'. Ma zai consists of little bits of 'batter' made of flour, egg and sugar binded together in squares with maltose syrup. The end result is a sweet chewy sticky eggy snack.
It's been a while since I last had ma zai, and I was overjoyed that this version was a good 'un. I was at once transported back to the 1980’s when my Mum would buy it as a treat for us pesky kids whenever she went shopping in Manchester's Chinatown.
Nowadays, ma zai comes in cellophane-wrapped individual portions, but when I was little, it would come as one giant cake from which you tore off a square. Inevitably, there would be much sibling bickering as to who snaffled the last one. Hand on heart, it was never me. Honest.