What is “kompia”? According to Wikitravel, it is a Foochow bagel that can only be found in Sibu where majority of the Chinese ethnic group is Foochow. For the longest time, it was true that kompia can only be bought in Sibu. However, shortly before I came over to the States (almost a decade now), kompia finally became available in Kuching. My family (especially my mom’s side, being Foochow) is a huge fan of kompia, and having lived in Sibu for part of my childhood, I basically grew up with kompia myself. We eat our kompia stuffed with Crispy Pork Fat (slices of skin and fat from the pork belly that have been deep-fried), Soy Sauce Pork Belly, Sardines in Tomato Sauce, and occasionally as a treat, Kraft cheddar cheese. I remember going to the kompia store often when I was young to buy freshly-baked kompia and have a vague memory of looking down into this huge cylindrical-shaped kompia oven, with many individual kompia dough sticking to the side of the oven as they baked. Since I haven’t been back for a while, I don’t have a picture of the original kompia. I did find a couple of blogs that have pretty clear pictures of kompia. Check out House of Annie and Kong Kay (this one actually comes with a Braised Pork Belly recipe for the filling). I can’t believe how few sesame seeds are sprinkled on top of the kompia nowadays. My mom complains that the kompia keeps getting smaller and smaller too. Now, here’s the sesame bagel connection – it tastes exactly like kompia. Umm…ok, the sesame bagel actually tastes better than kompia (horrors!) :) and my mom, being the full-blooded Foochow she is, actually made that statement. Of course, I did not realize until a few years ago that the sesame bagel is basically the same thing as kompia. When I first came here, I used to wonder what is this round thing that people like to eat, sliced in half, with cream cheese slathered generously on each side. It took me at least another couple of years before I actually gave it a try (we really should have a universal name for everything). Lo and behold, the sesame bagel tastes just like kompia except that it is double in size, has a gazillion more sesame seeds and is yummier! Not all sesame bagels taste like or have the same texture as kompia. Where I live, I find that the Bruegger’s sesame bagels taste most like (and more delicious than) the original kompia. We love eating our sesame bagels the traditional way (stuffed with Soy Sauce Chicken or sardines), as well as the American style – filled with cream cheese, or bacon, egg, and cheese, or our favorite lunch meat with the works. Feast your eyes on these yummy pictures. :)
You should be able to find the sardines in most Asian grocery stores. There is no need to cook the sardines. Just open the can(s) and pour out the sardines (including the sauce) into a bowl. Split each piece of sardine in half and remove the bone (think canned salmon). Mash up the sardines, and it’s ready.