Thunder Tea Rice, or Lui Char Fan, is the food of my people. The strange name is apparently derived from a Hakka pun – “lui” in Hakka means grinding/pounding of ingredients, which is how the soup for this dish is made. But “lui” also means thunder, hence the misleading name.
The ingredients for the bright green soup, including mint leaves, sweet potato leaves and tea leaves, are pounded together then added to water and brought to a boil. It’s a bit nasty on its own – quite bitter and bland, but you’re supposed to add it to the rice mixture.
The rice is topped with a whole host of chopped vegetables, roasted nuts, diced taukwa and chai poh (preserved radish). You mix it all up, adding some of the soup, and just shovel it in. This is a seriously healthy dish – there’s no meat, hardly any oil, and if you don’t stir in all the rice, you can control the amount of carb as well.
This isn’t my top choice at Maxwell, but I had this today because we were going to have an early and heavy dinner tonight. It tastes light and clean, and the crunch of the vegetables really makes you feel quite self-righteous in voluntarily having something so healthy. As for the taste, well I would have preferred some ikan bilis, which is sometimes served with this but not at this Maxwell stall. Also, there were flashes of celery, which isn’t exactly my cup of tea.
Will I have this again? Probably, for a healthy change and if I’m in the mood for a detox. But not at Maxwell though, where there are so many more exciting things to choose from.
Thunder… Thunder… Thundercats…Ho! It’s okay but not something I’d order.
Thunder Tea Rice
Maxwell Road Food Centre