Recently, in an episode of Poh’s Kitchen, she served a plate of Chwee Kuih made by her mother to her guest chef. Anyway, I think they were Chwee kuih (水粿, or its Cantonese equivalent 碗仔糕) as they were turned out from the moulds and the topping scattered on top. I still can’t tell the differences between Chwee Kuih and Wah Kuih.
I grew up eating only Wah Kuih, so I’m not too familiar with Chwee Kuih. As far as I can tell, they are both very similar. Chwee Kuih is from Teochew, Wah Kuih is from Hokkien. So I did a little research, I think the differences are that Chwee Kuih is usually topped with chai poh only after the rice pudding is steamed, while Wah Kuih has more topping ingredients other than chai poh and the topping is steamed together with the rice pudding.
After watching that episode, I wanted to make some as I haven’t tasted Wah Kuih for years. After consulting a few recipes, I made this haphazard version of mine. From my research, I found that the standard proportion for the rice pudding is roughly 1 part flour to 4 parts water by weight. From memory, the rice pudding itself is very plain, so to make it more palatable, I added fried shallots and dried shrimps to it with a little seasoning of salt and sugar. The puddings turned out quite well and happily they cured my hankering for this hawker snack of my childhood.
Oh, a mention about the preserved daikon (chai poh), nowadays the Asian supermarkets here sell the full-piece version, I bought it to make these Wah Kuih and they were far superior than the already-chopped ones!
Makes 12 small bowls
200g rice flour
50g tapioca starch
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
30g dried shrimps, soaked & drained
3-4 Asian shallots, peeled & sliced
40ml corn oil
100g minced pork, marinated with 1 tsp light soy sauce, 1/2 tsp sugar & dash of ground white pepper
100g preserved daikon (chai poh 菜脯, the salty type*)
10g dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked until softened
125ml (1/2 cup) water
Seasoning (adjust to taste):
1-2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
* If you use the sweet type of chai poh, you need to adjust the seasoning.
1. You need 12 small bowls, about 150ml-capacity each. These small bowls are about half the size of a normal Chinese rice bowls. If you only have normal rice bowls, then you only need 6 of them.
2. Marinate the minced pork for about half an hour. Chop the preserved daikon. Chop the softened mushrooms.
3. In a hot wok, melt the lard with the corn oil. Add sliced shallots and fry until golden brown over moderate heat. Remove the fried shallots and set aside; leave the oil in the wok. Add drained soaked dried shrimps to the oil, fry briefly until aromatic; remove and set aside.
4. Add the marinated minced pork to the remaining oil in the wok, stir-fry until colour changes. Add chopped preserved daikon and chopped mushrooms. Add about 1/2 cup water and seasoning (it would be advisable to season sparingly at this stage). Cover and simmer over low heat for about 8-10 minutes. Adjust seasoning if necessary, then dish up the topping and sauce to separate bowls.
5. Start heating water to boiling point in a steamer for steaming.
6. For the rice pudding, mix together rice flour, tapioca starch, salt and sugar. Gradually stir in water until you get a smooth paste. Add remaining water, stirring to make a very thin paste. Pour this rice mixture, together with the reserved fried shallots and fried shrimps, into a saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring all the time until it just thickens. This should take about 3 minutes of cooking time. Remove from heat immediately.
I slightly over-cooked mine, I should have removed the rice mixture from heat a few seconds before this.
7. Ladle the rice mixture into the small bowls to about 3/4 full, or just slightly more. Smooth the surface (pic #1) and spoon some topping over the rice mixture (pic #2). Steam over high heat for 30 minutes (pic #3).
8. Serve hot with the sauce from the topping, or some chilli sauce and garnish with coriander leaves if desired.
Taste: Soft rice pudding with delicious savoury topping
Consume: Best serve hot
Storage: May be stored under cover in the refrigerator for a couple of days; re-steam until hot before serving
Recipe Reference(s): From a few sources, including ‘Wah Kuih’ by Gina of Kitchen Capers forum