Kuih Koci is just one of the many variations of Chinese and Nyonya sweet and savoury dumplings made with glutinous rice pastry. These glutinous rice pastries are all very similar in texture with a chewy bite to them, but they are all made slightly differently depending on the different Chinese dialect groups, or those that have been adapted to Malaysia and Singapore – some filled with different types of filling, others without filling; some with outside coating, others without; some are shaped using moulds, others just rounded into ball shapes. The more popular ones among them are Loh Mai Chee (糯米糍), Muah Chee (麻糍), Yee Puah (燕粑), Ang Koo Kuih (紅龜粿), Onde-Onde (also spelt Ondeh-Ondeh), and even the Japanese mochi is one of the variations.
After seeing finalist Poh made her modernized version of this traditional Malaysian Nyonya rice dumpling on the first season of MasterChef Australia last month, I was inspired, so I decided to create my own modernized version of Kuih Koci (by the way, koci is pronounced as ‘kgo chee’, as the letter ‘c’ is always pronounced as ‘ch’ in Malay or Indonesian languages – it always put a smile on my face when Australians pronounced ‘kicap manis’ as ‘kikap manis’ which should be pronounced as ‘ketchup manis’) by marbling the rice pastry making the kuih looks like a piece of jade.
My jade-like Kuih Koci Pandan.
If you want to create a nice cone-shaped dumpling with a pointy end, use the wrapping method Poh described in her recipe on the MasterChef Australia website. The method I used here for wrapping is quicker and more traditional which does not necessarily create a nice cone-shaped dumpling with a pointy end. It is just the banana leaf wrapping that is cone-shaped, a distinct wrapping technique for this Nyonya kuih, a sweet take of the savoury Hakka Steamed Kuih Chang (客家粿粽) served during the Chinese Dragonboat Festival.
I have also made the dumplings quite large individually, I made 8 pieces about 6cm in diameter each from this recipe, because I could not be bothered with wrapping small dainty dumplings. You can probably make 20 small dumplings out of this recipe if you prefer, using banana leaf of about 10-12cm square to wrap each dumpling.
Makes approx. 8-10 pieces
Glutinous Rice Pastry:
85g peeled sweet potato
170g glutinous rice flour
150ml coconut milk
90ml coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
130g glutinous rice flour
1/4 teaspoon pandan paste
8-10 pieces banana leaf, 18cm x 18cm square
125g gula melaka (palm sugar)
2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
250g frozen or fresh white grated coconut
1/4 teaspoon pandan paste, to colour
To prepare Banana Leaves:
Rinse and wash the banana leaves and then scald in a saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute to soften. Drain and set aside.
Place gula melaka, sugar, salt and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugars. Add the white grated coconut and lower the heat. Add just enough pandan paste to colour the mixture green to your desired. Stir the mixture until almost dry. Remove to a plate to cool before using.
Glutinous Rice Pastry:
1. Cut the sweet potato into slices and steam until soft. Mash with a fork while still hot until smooth (or use a potato ricer if you have one). Add 170g glutinous rice flour and rub in with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (pic A). Set aside.
2. In a saucepan, bring to a boil the 90ml coconut milk, salt, sugar and oil. When sugar has dissolved, add 130g glutinous rice flour, stir and mix well; the mixture will be quite dry and crumbly. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and cool for 1 minute (pic B right) while preparing the other portion of the dough.
3. Put the mixture from step (1) into the saucepan over low heat and add the 150ml coconut milk, stir to form a thick sticky dough (pic B left). Transfer to the mixing bowl containing the mixture from step (2).
4. Knead the two portions together to form a soft but non-sticky dough (pic C). Add a little more glutinous rice flour if too sticky; add a little more coconut milk if too dry.
5. Divide the dough into two roughly equal portions. Add pandan paste to one portion and knead well to colour it green. Pat the uncoloured portion into a flat rectangular layer. Do the same with the green portion. Put the green dough on top of the uncoloured dough (pic #1). Roll up tightly like a Swiss roll (pic #2 & #3). Cut the rolled-up dough into 8 or 10 equal portions (pic #4).
5. Place a piece of the dough, cut side down, and flatten into a thin round disc. You might want to check which side has a better marbling pattern and has that side facing outside when wrapping. Place about a tablespoon of filling in the centre of the dough and gather up the outer edges of the pastry to wrap up and seal in the filling. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces and filling.
6. Fold each banana leaf into a cone, overlapping the two folded edges. Place a filled dough ball in the cone, pushing it down as far as you can manage. Fold the top over to a form the base of a pyramid shape. Turn the pyramid right side up so the fold is underneath to secure the parcel. Repeat wrapping the remaining dough balls.
Kuih Koci before steaming.
7. Steam over high heat for about 15 minutes. Serve hot.
Kuih Koci after steaming.
Taste: Soft chewy pandan dough with a sweet pandan coconut filling
Consume: Best served hot
Storage: Store the cooked dumplings in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 days, covered; re-steam until hot before serving
Recipe Reference(s): ‘Kueh Ko Chee’ recipe by Mrs Leong Yee Soo