Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chwee Kueh - Salty Rice Cake (Singapore Style)

Chwee Kueh

It's an acquired taste. When I was young, my mama would remove all the chai po topping before letting us eat this. I hated this plain white salty cake. So it's no surprise that I hardly ever order this dish whenever I eat out. That was until about fifteen years ago, when Tiong Bahru uncle / auntie changed my mind. Those tender smooth rice cakes topped with fragrant chai po... I was hooked. I had to have Tiong Bahru chwee kuay at least once a month. 

Rice cake with radish topping

For those who never had this dish, it's steam salty rice cake with salty preserved radish as a topping. Yup, sounds like a super salty dish. So, getting the right amount of saltiness in the cake is key. It has to be light enough to support the salty radish - it's like a perfect salty marriage. =)

Tender smooth rice cake with loads of chai po on side

It's been tough when I moved away from Singapore. Obvious to say, I must have chwee kueh whenever I return to Singapore and my dear mama will go Tiong Bahru early morning to buy some chwee kueh for my breakfast. (Yes, I know... I'm totally spoilt!)

I haven't had chwee kueh for closed to two years and had suffered from serious withdrawn symptoms - e.g. having sweet dreams of chwee kueh. It's that bad. Time to act on those dreams.

Heaps of chai po


Rice Flour 150g
Corn Flour 20g
Tap Water 280ml
Oil 2tsp (for rice cake)
Salt 1 1/2 tsp (Spilt into 1/2 tsp for rice cake and 1 tsp for chai po)
Hot Water 800ml

Garlic 50g (chopped)
Preserved Radish 300g (chopped)
Dried Shrimps 20g (pounded or flossed in food processor)
Sugar 3 tbsp
Dark Soy Sauce 1/2 tsp
Oil 3 tbsp (for chai po)

1. Place rice flour and corn flour into a mixing bowl. Use spatula to gently mix the flour together.

2. Make a hole in the middle of the flour and add in 100ml of tap water into the flour. Gently mix in the flour until all water is incorporated.

4. Add in another 100ml of tap water and gently mix in the flour mixture until all water is incorporated.

5. Pour in the remaining tap water. Mix until the batter is smooth with no lumps. Add in more water if it's too lumpy. Set aside.

6. Stir in oil and 1/2 tsp salt into hot water. Bring water to a boil under low heat.

7. Once water start to boil, add in 1/3 of flour mixture. Stir using wooden spatula until combined.

8. Add in another 1/3 of flour mixture. Stir using wooden spatula until combined.

9. Add in remaining flour mixture. Stir continuously until mixture thicken to a gluey consistency.

10. Turn off heat and continue stirring for additional 5 minutes. Set aside.

12. Pour oil into a bowl. Use a paper towel, dipped into the oil and coat the molds.

13. Use a spoon to scoop the flour mixture into the molds. Fill the molds up to 2/3 full.

14. Place molds onto a flat plate and leave mixture to set in molds for 10 minutes.

15. Steam over boiling water for 20 minutes.

16. Leave to cool in molds.

17. Place dried shrimps into food processor. Grind the dried shrimps until flossed. Or use a pound to break dried shrimps into paste.

18. Add garlic and preserved radish into food processor. Using the chop function, chop the garlic and preserved radish into small pieces. Mixing the ingredients at the same time.

19. Heat up  1 tbsp oil. Add in preserved radish mixture and fry till combined.

20. When the oil dry up, add in another tbsp oil and fry till fragrant.

21. Add in remaining oil, sugar, salt and dark soy sauce. Fry till well-combined.

22. Once the rice cake cool, use a paring knife to run across the sides of the mold to remove the cake from the mold.

23. Top the rice cake with preserved radish.


Tips & Tricks

1. If the flour mixture is too thick, add some water to loosen it. Do not add too much water, the cake will turn out too watery.

2. Use a wet spoon to scope the mixture into the molds.

3. Use the back of the wet spoon to smooth the top. Scrape away any batter from the spoon when smoothing the top. This helps create a smooth top.

4. If you don't have molds, you can use small bowls.

5. If you don't have food processor, diced the garlic and preserved radish with knife. Mix the garlic, preserved radish and flossed dried shrimps in a bowl with a spoon.

6. When frying the preserved radish, add some oil if it's looks too dry.

7. Do not remove the cake from the molds when it's hot. The cake will become lumpy and watery. Letting them cool in the molds allow the cake to set.

8. Adapted from Kokken.


My Asian Kitchen

Asian Rice Flour

When buying rice flour, get those from Asia. The texture is slightly different. I got mine from an Asian supermarket for US$1. You can find these near the sugar and flour section.

Refer to Fried Carrot Cake recipe for a picture of the preserved radish.

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