A SIMPLE pastry that originated from the Foochow community has been a unifier of sorts in Sibu, for the past 50 years.
The kong piah (literally translated as "empty biscuit") is as common as roti canai in the peninsula.
When the Foochows came to Malaysia in 1900, they brought with them the recipe to fulfil their crave for this staple food, which looks like mini roti nun, except that it is coated with sesame seeds on top.
As it is a cheap and nutritious food to fill the belly, kong piah is not only popular among the Foochow community, but also a favourite among other communities, including the Ibans and Malays.
Ting Leong Hua, 43, the owner of Seng Kee in Jalan Market, Sibu, which specialises in making kong piah since 1963, said he inherited the business from his late father who passed away early this year.
"Different people eat the pastry differently. The Chinese stuff it with minced meat. The Malays and Ibans dip it with curry and sambal. Vegetarians eat it plain.
"In Sibu, it is a favourite among the different races. It is more easy to find this food item than roti canai.
"If there is such a thing as food of solidarity, this is it," he said.
Wheat flour, salt, yeast, sesame seeds and water are the only ingredients needed to make kong piah.
The ingredients are mixed before it is rolled into small dough and baked in a huge churn, exactly like how roti nun is made.
It is priced at 20 sen (S$0.08) each. In the 1960s, one could get eight for just 10 sen.