This is a variation of the steamed Nyonya Kaya I first made a couple of years ago. I added caramel this time to make the serikaya reddish in colour and also to reduce the eggy smell. This steamed serikaya is firm in texture and is more suitable to use as a filling for kuih-muih than the smoother, runnier Hainanese-style kaya.
I also tried to cook the first stage of making the serikaya directly over very low heat rather than over a double-boiler, and it did work quite well, just that the end result of the serikay has a slightly rougher texture and not as fine.
Makes approx. 500g serikaya, about 1 1/2 cups
180g white granulated sugar
200ml thick coconut milk (coconut cream)
5 pandan leaves, tore along the length into 3-4 strips then knotted together
100g white granulated sugar
1. The first stage of cooking can be done directly over low heat if you are confident, just use a good heavy-bottomed saucepan or pot. If you want to cook the first stage of the serikaya using the double-boiler method and you don’t have a double-boiler, use this method: Prepare two pots, one slightly smaller than the other so that the smaller pot fits into the bigger pot (or alternatively, use a small pot placed inside a wok). The smaller pot should not touch the bottom of the bigger pot (or wok), use something such as a small aluminium stand/rack to elevate the smaller pot if necessary. Fill the larger pot (or wok) with enough hot water so that when the smaller pot sits inside, the water should come at least one-third or halfway up the outside of the smaller pot (like a bain-marie). Ideally the smaller pot should also be the heavy-bottomed type so that it can sit stable in the simmering water without it wobbling about during the cooking process.
2. To prepare caramel: Put the 100g sugar into a saucepan (best to use a light-colour pan so you can see the colour of the caramel, don’t use a dark pan). Add 50ml water and cook over low heat, do not stir, to caramelize the sugar. This should take about 15 minutes at low heat. When the syrup turns a light golden brown colour, turn off heat.
3. Beat the eggs lightly, then strain into the smaller pot of the double-boiler. Add sugar and knotted pandan leaves. Stir, over simmering water, until sugar dissolves, about 5-10 minutes.
4. Strain thick coconut milk into the egg mixture. Now use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture in one direction only, either clockwise or anti-clockwise. Continue stirring and at the same time, start adding the hot caramel gradually into the egg mixture, don’t worry if a little of the caramel crystallize, it will dissolve as you cook. (If you made the caramel earlier and the caramel is difficult to pour in, quickly heat over low heat until it liquidize.) Continue to cook, stirring continuously, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of spoon like custard, this takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove pandan leaves.
5. Pour the custard into a heatproof container that can be fitted into the steamer. Do not fill too full to the rim of the container, because during the steaming process, the custard will puff/rise up.
6. Cover the container with a piece of aluminium foil, secure it loosely around the rim of the container with a piece of string. Prick a few tiny holes in the foil with a fork to allow steam to escape.
7. Place the container into a steamer; with simmering water about 2cm below the container. Steam over low heat for about 2 hours. Wipe the underlid of the steamer cover from time to time to prevent water droplets falling onto the kaya (through the holes in foil).
Taste: Firm-texture kaya
Consume: Best within 2-4 weeks
Storage: Store in sterilized container in the refrigerator
Recipe Reference: ‘Seray-Kaya’ recipe in ‘The Best of Singapore Cooking’ by Mrs Leong Yee Soo