Meet Mr Lam: Sai Ying Pun Bamboo Steamer 林先生:蒸籠師傅

Sai Ying Pun Bamboo Steamer

Meet Mr Lam: Sai Ying Pun Bamboo Steamer 林先生:蒸籠師傅

MADE IN SYP
This story is part of a series of stories dedicated to the Spirit of Craftsmanship in Sai Ying Pun. We discovered SYP through the lens of locals. We visited 16 local craftsmen, to learn about their trade, their tools, their stories. See what they create; learn what they love and feel their passion. Now, for Mr Lam, a Sai Ying Pun Bamboo Steamer maker.

西營盤工匠精神
這個故事是《西營盤社區博物館:工匠精神》的一部分-透過街坊的角度重新探索這舊區。我們走訪了十六個西營盤工匠,了解他們所用的工具,和他們最自豪的事情。欣賞他們的創作;學習他們的手藝;感受他們的熱情。

 

“It takes about three years to learn how to hand-make a steamer from a single piece of bamboo”

德昌森記是少數仍以人手做蒸籠的店舖,學造竹蒸籠得用上三年時間。

 

Sai Ying Pun Bamboo Steamer
Tuck Chong Sum Kee has steamers in different shapes and sizes, they also do custom orders 德昌森記一共有十七款蒸籠,他們也會接客製化訂單

 

EVER POPULAR BAMBOO STEAMER

Tucked away in a Sai Ying Pun side street you find one of the last remaining places in town where bamboo steamers are still made by hand. Mr. Lam’s family has been making bamboo cooking utensils for five generations, stretching all the way back to his great-great-grandfather, who traveled between village markets in Guangdong.

Dim sum so synonymous with Hong Kong’s culinary culture, is all about bamboo baskets. Steaming helps to capture the moisture and the bamboo scent also gives the dishes their distinct flavour. “There was a time when metal steamers became popular, but they quickly went out of fashion when chefs realised the metal taste was detectable in the dim sum.” says Mr. Lam “now most restaurants insist on using bamboo steamers to bring out the authenticity and freshness of the food.”

Business was very good in the 1960s -70s with Hong Kong’s restaurant scene thriving. “We were producing baskets for places all over town and had lots of custom orders. When dim sum developed into different shapes and sizes, we also had to produce different size steamers. In addition to the 21-inch original, we now have 17 types.’ he says. “We even used to hang the bamboo steamers on a thick leather strap so that waitress could carry them around her shoulders to sell the dim sum’.

Even today Mr. Lam’s baskets are in demand. His clientele is no longer just restaurants, but the city’s creative crowd also know their way to this small workshop in Sai Ying Pun. “There was once a foreigner ordering a big batch of mini-steamers that could only hold one siumai. So tiny. Later he told me later he used it to hold his wedding cards. I liked the idea a lot”.

Sai Ying Pun Bamboo Steamer
Tucked away in a SYP side street is one of the last remaining places where bamboo steamers are still made by hand  德昌森記蒸籠是過百年老字號,仍然手造蒸籠

手造蒸籠
德昌森記蒸籠是過百年老字號,開初由廣東市集起家,現已由第五代傳人林應鴻打理。當其他蒸籠老店逐一光榮結業,另一老字號沈興記亦已搬上樓,只有德昌森記仍在地舖營業。起初,德昌森記只造一款21吋舊式大蒸籠,以往茶樓把大批點心放在大蒸籠蒸煮,再扣上粗皮帶孭在肩上叫賣,及至六七十年代,點心演變成大、中、小點,才發展出不同大小的蒸籠,現德昌森記一共有十七款蒸籠。

竹籠最配點心
「飲食業曾興起金屬蒸籠,但金屬蒸籠跟點心味道不配,始終還是竹香才能帶出食物原味。」

時移世易
林應鴻說,今時今日,要能守住傳統同時不被潮流及市場淘汰並非易事。曾有外國客人訂製僅可放一粒燒賣的迷你蒸籠,後來才知道那是用來放飾物作婚嫁回禮。「我們只是工匠,只懂工藝而不懂創意。」時代怎樣變,紮籠師傅也只能跟著走;不變是他們對工藝的堅持。

Sai Ying Pun Bamboo Steamer
Mr. Lam’s chopping block, a solid block of Singaporean timber 林師傅用新加坡木材來作鋸竹的枕木

 

THE CHOPPING BLOCK

“It takes a lot of skill. You need to learn how to split the bamboo, how to polish it, how to make bamboo pins and how to knit the bamboo into a basket shape.” says Lam. “It takes about three years to learn how to hand-make a steamer from a single piece of bamboo.” Mr. Lam uses a solid block of timber as a workbench. “In the 1950s-60s, Singaporean timber was imported to Hong Kong for foundation piles. It is very strong, I use it as a workbench to flatten the bamboo sticks.”

OUR PICK . Stock up on steamers large and small. Or why not buy a wooden mooncake press, a set of handmade spoons or a ginger grater.

匠心獨運
一個蒸籠看似簡單,實質內有乾坤。蒸籠由外圈、內膽及底線組成,當中牽涉過百樣工序。德昌森記是少數仍以人手做蒸籠的店舖,學造竹蒸籠得用上三年時間。「五、六十年代香港引入新加坡木材用來打樁,其結構適合作地基。我就用來作鋸竹的枕木。」

就算你未必會用到蒸籠,也不妨到訪這間傳統小店,帶一雙手造竹筷子回家!

Sai Ying Pun Bamboo Steamer
Mr. Lam’s small workshop is the place to stock up on home-made bamboo homeware products 來德昌森記買竹製廚房用品!

iDiscover Hong Kong App
Download the iDiscover Hong Kong app so you can get lost without getting lost in Sai Ying Pun下載 iDiscover Hong Kong 手機應用程式,助你輕鬆遊西營盤!

 

HOW TO GET THERE? 

Tuck Chong Sum Kee (Sai Ying Pung Bamboo Steamer) is at 12 Western Street. For directions download the free iDiscover app or download a printable mapGet your own copy of the iDiscover Hong Kong Neighbourhood Guide.   

如何到達? 下載免費的 iDiscover手機應用程式西營盤手繪地圖,輕鬆找到位於西邊街12號的德昌森記蒸籠

Read more stories at our online neighbourhood museum. 閱讀更多西營盤工匠故事

More stories about Hong Kong, Sai Ying Pun and 西營盤