Snippets on Food: Of Generals and Horses, the Tall Tale of Shat Kei Mah

Shat Kei Mah or Sachima as westerners know it, is a sweet Chinese pastry made up of flour batter that’s been egg-tossed and then deep-fried, coated in syrup and maltose, sliced and served. They have the same form and the same gooey consistency of Rice Krispie treats, but unlike the latter, Sachima has been around for centuries.

The origins and history of this dish is shrouded in legend and tall tales but in fact, the sugary snack originated in northeast China and is said to have served as an energy bar for the horsemen of China’s Manchu Army, providing them with the strength and stamina needed to defeat the Ming Dynasty in the 1600s.

Charming tales are told, one of which is “a story of General Sa who had a penchant for yummy desserts and riding horses, and who was stationed in Guangdong province during the Qing dynasty. The general commanded his cook to prepare a different sweet for him whenever he returned from hunting on horseback. One day the cook fell behind, and by the time his boss had gotten back, he still hadn’t prepared the requisite confection, so he poured some honey over deep-fried noodles, cut them into squares and served the dessert to the general. The officer was delighted. But the cook, grumbling in the back of the kitchen, was heard to mutter, “Shā nà qímāde.” Loosely translated, it means “[I’d like to] kill that guy on the horse,” but fortunately this was misheard and then interpreted as the name of his new creation, Sà qí mǎ, or “Sa [and] his horse.” 

Source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/chinese-new-year-food_b_2639311

In Hong Kong, horse racing is a big affair during festive seasons. That is also why it is believed that consuming these sweet doughy crackers before betting on a horse will bring them luck to win the race.

In Ipoh, Sachima has become a must-buy gift for anyone coming for a short visit. Indeed, it is one of the sweet treats I take with me on my travels as gifts for my friends abroad. 

But there is commercial Sachima and there is Shat Kei Mah made by Charmaine Low

Charmaine is an entrepreneur who has been involved in various enterprises, from beauty salons to boutiques, and is now in the private food production business. Her Shat Kei Mah is second to none.

Unlike the commercial variety which oozes sugar, Charmaine’s Sachima is chock full of cashews and seeds like pumpkin, melon and black sesame interspersed with dried raisins and cranberries; all held together not with sugar but with Maltose. The result is a not-too-sweet bite of crunchy deliciousness that even a sugar-averse palate like mine can enjoy.

Charmaine is currently spreading her wings and sending her sweeties to Johor and a few shops around Ipoh. However, dear readers, your best bet is to order directly from her at the following numbers with a 2-day lead time. I promise you a sweet delightful treat. 

Her big box to share at home is RM20 and her gift box of 12 small boxes is RM38.

Call Charmaine at 017-6131695 or WhatsApp her at 012-512 2300.

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