If you were to ask any lover of Chinese cuisines what they knew about Chiu Chow food, chances are they'd mention the master sauce goose, oyster omelette and oyster congee. These are justifiably famous dishes, but Chiu Chow food has so much more. Unusually for a Chinese cuisine, it uses fish sauce - a seasoning more often connected with Southeast Asia. According to Eric Low, "It was the Teochews [a variant on the spelling of Chiu Chow] who introduced fish sauce to Thai and Vietnamese cooking."
"Teochew cuisine is often described as one of the most underrated in the family of Chinese cuisines. In the eight major schools of Chinese cuisine, Teochew … is accredited as a sub-division of Cantonese cuisine due to its geographical location in Guangdong province," Low writes in his introduction.
"Street food is a strong element of Teochew cuisine history as it provides affordable cheap meals and is also readily accessible to all. If one looks closely at the home-cooked dishes and hawker food found along the streets and markets of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Cambodia, we can see that these dishes can be traced back to their Teochew roots found back in Chaoshan. In each of the mentioned countries, these Chaoshan dishes have been translated into local versions with their own unique touch of local ingredients and preferred way of eating."
Among the Chinese people in Singapore, the Chiu Chow community is second only to the Hakkas. Many of the dishes that people associate with hawker food from the city-state are originally Chiu Chow. Low gives recipes for chai tow kway (also known as carrot cake, which has confused many a tourist who didn't realise that the dish uses not the orange carrot but radish, known as low bok [white carrot]); char kway teow with preserved radish; glutinous rice rolls; kai lan with crispy flat fish; Shantou-style bak chor mee pok; pig trotter rice; and chwee kueh (steamed rice cakes with a salted radish and dried shrimp topping).
The Little Teochew Cookbook - A Collection of Authentic Chinese Street Foods By Eric Low