Hed chef

This week's recipe - chwee kueh (steamed rice cakes) - is a part two to last week's chai po topping.

The topping can go with many things, but this is for those who like to keep it traditional.

Chwee kueh in Teochew means water cakes and the name is related to the dish's humble origin.

There are a few versions of how it originated.

One is that it began in ancient China's southern provinces as a way for the poor to stretch their meagre rice supply.

Poor families would grind a small amount of rice with water using a stone mill. The thin batter was then steamed in ceramic bowls to make cakes.

The recipe is still as simple and easy as it was then.

Traditionally, the steamed cakes were consumed plain.

The chai po topping is a "luxury" add-on unique to Singapore and Malaysia.

For this recipe, rice flour is used instead of stone-milled rice.

The addition of corn flour gives a springy texture to the steamed cake.

I also use shallot oil in the batter to give some extra flavour - not usually found in those you buy from hawkers.

One vital tip is to grease the metal moulds before filling them with the batter. If you do not, you will have a nightmare trying to extract the chwee kueh.

When it is time to remove them from the moulds, use a greased butter knife.

Run the knife around the edge of the mould before sliding it under the chwee kueh and gently prying it out.

To get last week's recipe for the chai po topping and shallot oil, go to www.tnp.sg

Chwee Kueh

Ingredients (Makes 16 to 18)

220g rice flour
40g corn flour
400ml room temperature water
 800ml boiling water
 2 tbsp cooking oil or shallot oil
1½ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp of cooking oil (for the moulds) You will need 18 metal moulds and a perforated round metal tray.

Method

1. Grease the inside of the moulds with cooking oil. (A)

2. Fill the base of a wok with water and place a perforated round tray in. Bring the water to a boil and place the moulds in the round tray. Cover and keep the water simmering.

3. Bring 800ml of water to a boil in a separate pot or kettle. This is for making the rice cakes.

4. Place rice flour and corn flour in a large heatproof bowl. Add 400ml of room temperature water to the flour and mix well.(B)

5. Add the salt, sugar, 2 tbsps of cooking oil or shallot oil. Stir. (C) Add the boiling 800ml of water into the flour mixture to make the batter. Stir to mix well.

6. Fill the moulds with the batter and steam for 20 minutes. When cooked, the steamed rice cakes will have a slight depression in the middle. (D)

7. Keep the wok covered and allow the chwee kueh to rest for 30 minutes to solidify.

8. Remove the cakes from the metal cups. Place on plate and spoon over chai po topping. Serve immediately.


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