Stop Feeling Homesick: Make Your Own Chwee Kueh

If there’s one dish that has been refusing to behave in my kitchen, it is chwee kueh, a steamed rice cake topped with fried preserved radish. If you haven’t heard already, it is one of the many well-loved hawker dishes in Singapore and if you haven’t tried this, you haven’t had the quintessential Singaporean breakfast.

I didn’t use to like chwee kueh very much. When I was a kid, I only had eyes for fried hawker dishes. Char kway teow, chai tow kway, you know, the obvious stuff. My love for chwee kueh only developed when I started going out with M. He loves a good platter of chwee kueh, and I guess his appetite rubbed off on me. Then, my cravings for chwee kueh worsened with our time in London. We can find char kway teow here. We can also find satay, chai tow kway and a lot of other Singaporean dishes (though not as authentic, but good enough to hold us hostage), but my goodness, chwee kueh is nowhere to be found. If we don’t go back to Singapore for a year, we would suffer from chwee kueh withdrawal symptoms for 365 days, can you imagine that?! Hence, it comes as no surprise that a trip back to Singapore is often accompanied by the mandatory eating itinerary which features chwee kueh quite prominently on top of the (as Singaporeans would say) ‘die die must eat’ list. How can anyone say no to baby smooth and tender kueh smothered in the most addictive, sweet-savoury, spicy  and ever so slightly crunchy preserved radish?

I couldn’t possibly let M suffer from the lack of chwee kueh in our diet. I had enough of Vitamin Chwee Kueh deficiency too. So, I ploughed the internet for recipes and all I can say is, until today, chwee kueh was the death of me. I stirred and I steamed, only to find a worthless lump of white gooey poo on my first attempt. The rats in London will scurry away at the smell of that off-putting lump. Needless to say, the eager husband woke up to a breakfast of tantrums. Yes, I threw a hissy fit in the kitchen and cursed the recipe that I referred to to the deepest of hell. I am evil that way.

I decided to do it on my own terms, and reduced the water content to see if the chwee kueh might set better after steaming. Yes it worked, but the consistency wasn’t quite right. There was a certain flour-ish taste to it, which I didn’t like, and the chwee kueh wasn’t springy and smooth enough. Then, I had a Eureka! moment when I was in an Asian supermarket recently. I noticed that the rice flour I had purchased from Sainsbury’s was coarser and slightly more yellowish than the white rice flour found in Asian marts. I decided to try my recipe out with the Asian white rice flour instead, and this morning, it worked! The chwee kueh was delightfully springy, and much smoother than my previous attempt. The fried preserved radish (chai poh) wasn’t hard to make either, it’s a matter of seasoning it to taste, really. Over the three attempts, I have come up with my version, which M has declared to be the best chai poh he has ever had, and yes, this is my favourite too.

I was a happy girl, and devoured four precious pieces for lunch today. I’m no longer homesick and to my dear friends who have been asking me for my recipe on Facebook, I hope you will feel less homesick too.

Here’s the recipe:

Chwee Kueh

Kueh
Makes 10 in standard chwee kueh moulds

100g white rice flour (bought from Asian stores)
13g wheat starch
125ml water at room temperature
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
625ml water
Extra vegetable oil for greasing
Extra water for topping up

1. Mix flour, starch, vegetable oil, salt and 125ml of room temperature water to form a smooth batter and set aside.
2. Bring 625ml of water to boil in a saucepan, and gradually add the batter from Step 1 to the boiling water. Stir constantly until a thick glue-like paste is formed.
3. Grease the chwee kueh moulds with vegetable oil and fill each mould up till about 2/3 full. Smooth the batter out with the back of a wet spoon. Add a teaspoon of water to the top of the smooth batter.
4. Steam on high heat for 20 minutes.
5. Remove the chwee kueh moulds from steamer and let cool almost completely before unmoulding with a knife. If you unmould the chwee kueh before it is almost cooled, it will be too wet and unpleasant to eat. You may keep these in the fridge for a few days, leave them in the moulds and unmould when you want to have them. Pop them in the microwave for 1.5 minutes (works for me) to heat them up.

Chai Poh
Makes enough for 10 pieces of chwee kueh (make more if you like a heavy dose of chai poh)

75g chai poh (preserved sweet (not salty) radish, chopped. Soak these in water before frying if you don’t want it to be too salty.)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 tablespoon Maggi’s Garlic Chilli Sauce
1/2 tablespoon kecap manis
2 teaspoons sugar

1. Fry garlic and chai poh in oil till fragrant.
2. Add fish sauce, chilli sauce, kecap manis and sugar to chai poh and stir-fry for a few more minutes. Serve on top of chwee kueh.

*Note: You may not have Maggi’s chilli sauce, so tweak the rest of the ingredients according to how salty or sweet your chilli sauce is. Add more chilli sauce if you want it to be spicy, or use chilli oil to add more kick without upping the salt or sugar content.

Enjoy!

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37 Responses to “Stop Feeling Homesick: Make Your Own Chwee Kueh”


  1. 1 Craftily Delicious February 22, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    I always enjoy reading your posts because they are so real. I too am very close with my family so I can feel your sentiments when you speak of being homesick – I think it’s sweet of you to share. I enjoyed this post because you took that homesick energy and transformed it into learning how to make something that could take away those feelings – and what better way than through food! =)

    • 2 The Pleasure Monger February 22, 2011 at 6:14 pm

      Craftily Delicious: Thank you! I think being homesick motivated me to cook and bake, I wouldn’t be doing all this if I weren’t away from home. This is one good thing that came out of the time away from my family, and yes, turning something negative into something positive can’t get any better than doing it with food!

  2. 3 bookjunkie February 22, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Never knew Chwee Kueh could look this pretty!! great job..your guy is so lucky. Made me think that I may have taken this simple breakfast snack for granted. Also brought back memories of my grandma who used to eat this for breakfast.

  3. 5 Lady J February 23, 2011 at 5:41 am

    Oh wow… alot of effort went in for this! I’m really amazed at your amazing culinary skills! Your man sure is lucky! :)

  4. 7 pigpigscorner February 23, 2011 at 10:59 am

    I’ve never had this! But I always find recipes with rice flour = steaming a bit tricky.

  5. 9 Swee San February 24, 2011 at 4:17 am

    Firstly, Happy Blogiversary! Looking forward to see what u’re going to churn out next! Never made Chwee kueh before but been eating lots here. Love the chai poh.. Mm I must make it and add lotsa chai poh..

  6. 11 maybs February 24, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    OMGGGGG!!!! i’ve been craving for these forever!! thanks for posting the recipe!!! definitely going to make these.

    I was so homesick over the weekend I made roast hainanese chicken.. ;)

  7. 13 Joy February 25, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Chwee Kueh is one of my top choices for a weekend brekkie…glad that you managed to successfully arrive at the right formulation for it…looks yum! What about setting shop in London, selling Chwee Kueh? I tell you, all the homesick Singaporean folks will swarm to you!

  8. 15 Will Iam October 6, 2011 at 3:10 am

    Wondering what’s the purpose of the teaspoon of water on top of each batter? And by any chance, do you remember the volume of 100g rice flour, is it about 3/4 cup? I don’t have a balance and I don’t intend to get one.

    • 16 The Pleasure Monger October 6, 2011 at 8:39 pm

      I found that it gave a better texture on the top, with the water you won’t dry up the batter too much. I am sorry I can’t remember the volume…there should be measurement conversion websites that would have an answer though.

  9. 17 Cheryl Tan (@cheryltan88) March 26, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Holy cow — I’d never thought of making chwee kueh before! Stumbled upon this one morning in New York after I’d woken up craving the chwee kueh from Tiong Bahru. Thanks for sharing this…I’m going to give it a try! Shiok…

  10. 19 britishangmoh May 13, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Great recipe!

    When I’m in Singapore I enjoy going for brekkie with my in laws and eating chwee kueh. It would be great to make my own. You make it sound so simple. I’ve never noticed any chai poh on the shelves in Chinatown in London. Where do you get yours from?

  11. 20 britishangmoh May 19, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    What a great recipe. I just made perfect chwee kueh. Thanks a lot!

  12. 22 britishangmoh May 23, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    yeh i got it from Longdan in Kingston. i got plenty left over. do you know any other uses for chai poh apart from chwee kueh, muay and omelette?

    • 23 The Pleasure Monger May 24, 2012 at 6:13 am

      britishangmoh: You can use chaipoh to make chai tow kway (fried carrot cake). Recipe’s on the blog. You can also use it to flavour stir-fried dishes like noodles, kway teow etc, the possibilities are endless and you can always do a little taste test! I’m all ears if you have good smashing recipes! =)

      • 24 britishangmoh May 24, 2012 at 8:18 am

        Thanks! I look forward to using your chai tow kway recipe some time soon. That’s one of my fave dishes.

        I’ve promised my wife I’d make soon kueh this weekend. I couldn’t see a soon kueh recipe on your blog. There are loads of recipes out there, I’m not sure which one is the most reliable. I was wondering if you could recommend a good one.

      • 25 The Pleasure Monger May 24, 2012 at 8:40 am

        britishangmoh: Oh dear, I thought I had put up the chai tow kway recipe, but I haven’t done so, sorry! I will do that soon (I’ve only got the white carrot cake recipe, I’ve made the black version before but I didn’t bother to take down the quantities of ingredients that I used). I haven’t made soon kueh before, and haven’t come across that in the reliable blogs that I tend to read. Will let you know if I do! By the way, your wife is a very lucky woman!!

      • 26 britishangmoh May 24, 2012 at 8:19 pm

        Haha! Well I’m the lucky one really. If it wasn’t for her I probably wouldn’t know about such amazing food!

      • 27 The Pleasure Monger June 25, 2012 at 11:21 am

        britishangmoh: You’re quite right on that too, lol!

  13. 28 xiuyun October 21, 2012 at 10:39 am

    What is wheat starch? Is it plain flour? My children are craving for these!

  14. 30 susan hodges November 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Hi, I have no idea what wheat starch is. Is there a particular brand?
    Is it the same as corn starch?
    Can one buy it in the UK? Where can one buy the moulds in the UK?
    Can i use silicone cupcake moulds?
    Thanks,
    Susan

    • 31 The Pleasure Monger November 19, 2012 at 6:38 am

      Susan: It’s not the same of corn starch. The packet should state wheat starch as it is. You can get this in the Chinese supermarkets in Chinatown in London. I got the moulds from Singapore. I think silicone moulds should be alright if they can withstand the steaming process. I’m assuming they can as you use these moulds to bake cupcakes in the oven?

      • 32 susan.hodges@virgin.net November 19, 2012 at 7:26 am

        Thank you for taking time to reply. I love your recipes. The cupcake moulds are not the correct shape.What is the diameter of the TOP of your metallic moulds? Where in Singapore did you buy them?
        Thanks for all your help, Susan

      • 33 The Pleasure Monger November 19, 2012 at 7:51 am

        Hi Susan, no problem, happy to help! The moulds measure about 2.5 inches at the top. I got them from Sun Lik, a baking supply store opposite Raffles Hotel.

  15. 34 Grace December 28, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Hi there! I just chanced upon your recipe and was wondering where I could find sweet chai poh in London? I usually shop in See Woo but only seen the salty version of chai poh.

    Thank you!!

    Grace

  16. 35 Joann June 17, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Hi i’m Joann here I really miss this food a lot as I have not been back to Singapore for 4 years . Really like to try to make this but can’t find the mould at austrailla .


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Read about my food-gasmic adventures in San Sebastian here! Also please come by and check out the prettiest cake I've made over here!
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