Today’s Blogger in the Spotlight (BITS) is one of our favourite persons in the world because she feeds us really often. You see, we happen to be her guinea pigs and every time she experiments with a luscious cake be it a fruit cake or butter cake or even a Malaysian dessert, she sends some our way for Q.C. Lovely! Without wasting more time, here is Chris a.k.a. Pureglutton, writing about what she does best.. baking!
Malaysians love their desserts. There’s no denying that. Local desserts, in the form of cookies, cakes, dumplings, puddings, pastries, sweet soups and porridge are all easily available from the roadside stalls to the fine restaurants. All these local desserts can broadly be called “kuih” in Malaysia and they come in multi colours, shapes and textures. Kuihs are more often steamed, boiled or fried rather than baked.
3 very common ingredients used in Malaysian kuihs are coconuts, sweet potatoes and “gula melaka” (palm sugar) and very often glutinuous rice flour or plain wheat flour is used to bind these ingredients. In tropical Malaysia, coconut trees are grown abundantly – the coconut is featured extensively in Malaysian cuisine. Everything about the coconut can be used, from the young flesh, the juice or “coconut water”, milk squeezed from older flesh shavings – nothing is wasted!
From the coconut tree we get “Gula Melaka” or palm sugar which is made from the sap of the coconut bud. The sap is then boiled until it thickens and then poured into traditional bamboo tubes until it hardens and form tubes of palm sugar. I love gula melaka for its aromatic flavours – a delightful blend of caramel and earthiness of brown sugar with nuances of butterscotch – that’s perhaps the best way to describe it! Sweet potatoes come in various colours and textures. Their vibrant colours provide the natural colouring to many of our local kuihs.
I’d like to share 3 favourite local kuihs which are easy to make (and of course, they are also terribly yummy!) and use a combination of the 3 main ingredients described above.
1. Angkoo Kuih
Traditionally red in colour, these tortoise-shaped kuihs are made from glutinuous flour with sweet beans filling. “Angkoo” actually means “red tortoise” in the Hokkien dialect.
These kuihs are popular during Chinese festivals (the Chinese love red for its “luck & prosperity” significance!) and are often used as offerings in temples.
The basic Angkoo Kuih recipe goes like this..
For the Filling:
200g mung beans
100ml thick coconut milk
Banana leaves – cut into small rectangles
Oil for brushing
To cook the filling:
Wash mung beans and soak for 1 hour. Add in water and boil. Turn down heat and simmer until
beans are soft. Stir constantly. When beans are soft, add in sugar and coconut milk and continue
cooking until the bean mixture thickens (about another 20 minutes). Cool completely. Divide and
roll bean paste into 30g balls.
To make Dough:
Place glutinuous flour, mashed sweet potatoes, sugar in a bowl. Add in coconut milk and corn oil and mix into a smooth pliable dough. Cover and keep aside for about 30 minutes.
Divide dough into 30g balls. Flatten dough and fill with a ball of mungbean filling. Pinch the dough to enclose the filling and press lightly into the angkoo mould which had been lightly dusted
with flour (to prevent sticking). Gently knock out the angkoo kuih onto lightly oiled banana leaf rectangles. Arrange kuihs on a steamer and steam for 15 minutes. Lightly brush hot kuihs with oil and trim off excess banana leaves around the kuihs. Serve!
*Note: Use purple or orange sweet potatoes for their lovely hues. The whitish sweet potatoes won’t yield very attractive colours! Be creative – you can even try mixing various colours for a marbled effect!
Another popular local kuih I would like to share is the Ondeh Ondeh. Using the same recipe for the Dough of the Angkoo Kuih, this kuih is really easy to make. Traditionally, ondeh ondeh is green in colour, thanks to the use of pandan juice. You may substitute the coconut milk with pandan juice if you want green ondeh ondeh. Otherwise, be cool and make some new-wave kinda purple or orange ondeh ondehs!
2. Ondeh Ondeh
Dough: Same recipe as Angkoo Kuih
Filling: Finely-chopped gula Melaka
Coating: 500g Freshly-scraped coconut mixed with 1 tsp of fine salt
Shape dough into 20g balls, flatten it and put in half a teaspoon of the finely-chopped gula Melaka.
Pinch the dough together to enclose the filling and drop it immediately into a pot of boiling water.
The balls will float to the top when they are cooked. Dish them out and roll them on a plate of freshly-scraped coconut to ensure they are fully coated. Serve!
Let’s do another easy local kuih. I have shared kuihs cooked by steaming and boiling… now how about a fried kuih?
Down in Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur – what is known as our Chinatown, there is this stall selling Fried Sweet Potato Balls which is almost like an icon or institution there! Everybody knows about this stall. They have been doing a roaring business out of this simple sweet kuih for 30 years! Their fried sweet potato balls are very addictive, you can never stop at one!
3. Fried Sweet Potato Balls
500g mashed steamed sweet potato
50g plain flour
50g castor sugar
3 cups oil for frying
Mix mashed sweet potatoes, sugar and flour. Shape into 20g balls, coat with a dusting of flour before dropping them into hot oil. Fry for about 5 minutes, turning the balls constantly, until they are golden brown. Drain them on some absorbent paper before serving.
And that is it.. you are on your way to becoming an expert at making Malaysian desserts!
About this week’s Guest writer:
Chris loves anything to do with food, whether it’s eating or cooking! Back in her schooldays in Ipoh, her keen interest in food and cooking stemmed from cookery classes in her school’s “Home Science” syllabus! From the age of 12, she was already cycling to the wet market to buy stuff there and could prepare simple meals for her family. Most of her culinary endeavours were a mish-mash of self- creativity, observations, researching through cookbooks & the Internet and attending some baking/ cake decorating classes. Her food blog “Pureglutton” was started in 2007 mainly to capture and record her eating adventures as well as share some of her favourite recipes.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (order your cakes today!)
Follow on Twitter: @Pureglutton