Soon Kuih Or Chai Kuih? Teochew Soon Kuih (笋粿)

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INTRODUCTION

In Singapore, it is called Soon Kuih (笋粿) or literally translated as bamboo shoot rice cake. Based on the name, it is expected that the filling of the rice cake is predominately comprises bamboo shoots.. However, that is not the case,  most of the this Teochew dialect delicacy used jicama as the fillings.. 

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As per Chinese equivalent of Wikipedia, 互动百科,

潮州地区盛产竹笋,笋这味潮州民间小食便是以竹笋为主要原料。制作笋关键是制作皮,皮的制法是将粳米磨成粉浆,放炊笼中炊熟,再加开水揉至柔软,推成圆条形,捏成一小块一小块,用面棍推成圆形皮。在制成皮时,可适当加点油,使皮较柔软。笋粿的馅是竹笋、猪肉、香菇、虾米(均切成细粒),调进盐、味精、胡椒粉、蒜头(其中味精、胡椒粉量要适当加多)。然后将馅放在皮中间,包过来即成。”  Source : http://www.baike.com/wiki/%E7%AC%8B%E7%B2%BF

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Possibly due to localization of cooking ingredients or influenced by the Hakka’s Cai Kuih (菜粿) or vegetable rice cake, most stores that sell this are using jicama as the main ingredients… In certain stores, there are also fillings using Chinese chives (韭菜)or even salted vegetables.

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The preparation of this rice cake is not difficult and most recipe will concentrate on the “skin” or crust recipe- the rice dough used to wrap the fillings. Basically, it is the optimum flour mix between types of flours and starches that yield the softest yet not mushy skin..

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On one extreme is the usage of 100% rice flour as what is described in the Baike definition above and this will give a white colour, non translucent crust. However, it will be overly soft, difficult to shape and have a tendency to break. On the other extreme is using 100% starches such as tapioca starch, wheat starch, potatoes starch, corn starch and etc. That will yield a very chewy texture and can become hard when the cake is cold. That, however will yield a transparent crust.. The ideal will be mixture of these 2 extremes with the right amount of water used to knead the dough until it is a pliable dough suitable for shaping.

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I have used 40% rice flour and 60% wheat starch for this recipe skin and I am generally pleased with the ratio. Easy to wrap and the texture is just nice and suits my taste buds. 

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: About 20 dumplings

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  • 500 grams of jicama (bangkuang) (沙葛)- julienned into thin strips
  • 100 grams of carrot (红萝卜) – julienned into thin strips
  • 100 grams of minced pork (肉碎) – optional
  • 5 winter mushrooms – soaked and cut into thin stripes
  • Some stalks of coriander or spring onion – optional
  • 1 tablespoons of baby shrimps
  • 4 shallots cut into thin stripes
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil

Seasonings

  • 2 tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of light soya sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • Pinches of salt
  • Dashes to white pepper

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  • 120 grams of rice flour (粘米粉)
  • 180 grams of wheat starch (澄粉)
  • 300 grams or ml of hot boiling water (滚水)
  • 100-120 grams or ml of cold water (凉水)
  • 3 tablespoons of cooking oil (食用油)
  • Pinches of salt (盐巴)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a frying pan, heat up cooking oil and sauté the onion and mushrooms until the onions turn light brown. Add the minced meat and stir fry for 2-3 minutes or until the meat is half cooked. Add the shredded jicama and red carrots, stir fry until the vegetable are soft. No water shall be added as vegetable juice will be produced in the process of deep frying. Add seasoning (oyster sauce, light soya sauces, salt, sugar and white pepper). Off the heat, dish up and let it cool completely before the wrapping.

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  • In a mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together. Use a chopstick to stir until well mixed. Add in the hot water gradually and use the chopstick to stir until it form lumps. Gradually add in the cold water and use your hand to knead the dough until it form a pliable dough. You may not need to add  all the water if you find that the dough is comfortable to handle. If it is too wet, add in either rice flour or wheat starch tablespoon by tablespoon. If too dry, add water teaspoon by teaspoon.

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  • Divide the dough equally into 20 portions. Shape round and set aside. Take one dough, use a rolling pin to roll it as thin as you can handle. Transfer the rolled dough to your palm and put a tablespoon of fillings on top of the rolled dough.

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  • Seal the edges and pleat if you wish too. Traditionally, there is no pleating for this dumpling. Transfer the wrap dumpling to a greased steamer tray or steamer tray lined with baking paper. Steam the dumpling for 10 minutes under high heat. Once steaming is done, brush some cooking oil on top of the dumpling. Best served with sweet sauce , chilli sauce and garnish with some chopped spring onion and deep fried shallots.

CONCLUSION

Don’t admire me about preparing these dumplings. You can do that too.. Remember, texture of the skin is very individual, for more chewy and transparent skin, used more starches. For skin that are soft and non transparent, use more rice flour..You will know how to adjust after your first attempt. If you don’t have jicama in your country of residence, you can use chives or salted vegetable. The way of preparation is the same but for salted  vegetable, you may want to soak it before your stir frying.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 15 October 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

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16 thoughts on “Soon Kuih Or Chai Kuih? Teochew Soon Kuih (笋粿)

  1. Stunning! Beautiful! Love this! There are good ones in Kuching – must know where to get them, chai kuih we call them…but none here where I live, Sibu, other than some miserable ones, not even good enough to worth the trouble of brushing one’s teeth after eating, so to speak. Your skin looks absolutely perfect – wish I could do that. 😦

    • Thanks for your kind words. Kuching version usually are whitish colour prepared using the rice flour.. Apparently this kuih is very much a mix of Teochew and Hakka origin and I presumed Sibu has not had many Teochew and Hakka there… Haha. With this recipe, possibly you can try to prepare yourself? I am sure you and your Mrs. can..

  2. Hi kenneth tried ur recipe. The fillings taste great but the skin was abit disappointinh. I dont know what went wrong but its not soft n chewy. I had to add more wheat starch cos the initial mixing of hot water makes the flours into a paste. Do you know if theres a difference using hot or boiling water? I didnt even add half of the cold water and it has formed a paste.

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  8. Thank you for the scrumptious recipes on yr Blog. Today my sister n I made soon kueh n it was so good. As mangkwang is so expensive in Perth we made a carnivore’s version with more pork mince and added fried towfu strips as well. We also omitted carrots – reckons that’s fusion haha! Yr recipes suit our Teochew tastebuds! You definitely nailed the skin proportions of wheat starch n rice flour!

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