Chwee Kueh (Steamed Water Rice Cake with Preserved Turnip) – Learn how to make soft and bouncy steamed rice flour cake topped with sweet and savory chai poh (preserved turnip) toppings and served with spicy sambal sauce. A popular breakfast food in Singapore.
I came to know about this popular breakfast dish called Chwee Kueh (Steamed Water Rice Cake with Preserved Turnip) when I lived in Singapore for a short while. Chwee kueh or 水 粿 literally means “water cake” and hence in Hokkian dialect, they are called chwee, means water and kueh from Malay language means cake.
WHAT IS CHWEE KUEH?
Chwee kueh is made of water, rice flour, tapioca flour, and salt. They were then steamed. The cake is almost pudding-like in texture. This cake has a “dimple” on top and usually top with savory and sweet chai poh topping and then served with sambal chili.
WHY IS THERE DIMPLE IN THE MIDDLE OF CHWEE KUEH?
Chwee kueh batter is very thin and when being steamed the water will “ooze” out and sit in the middle of the cake creating the dimple. This is one of the characteristics of chwee kueh and henced is named as such
CAN I MAKE CHWEE KUEH WITHOUT SPECIAL CUPS?
The traditional way of steaming chwee kueh is by using a shallow metal cups that is commonly found in Asia for steamed cake and this is especially for chwee kueh. I don’t have those cups. But fret not people. If you miss them so much and you are far away from home, you can still make chwee kueh using muffin cups 😉 They turn out perfect!!!
HOW TO MAKE GOOD CHWEE KUEH IN A NUTSHELL
1. Make sure your steamer is ready to steam. As the batter can’t be sitting around for too long waiting for steamer to get ready
2. Boil 500 ml of water and then let sit for 15 minutes (it is important not to skip this part-read explanation in recipe)
3. While waiting for the water to cool down, mix flour with regular room-temperature water, and salt
4. Then add the boiled water that has been cooled down for 15 minutes into the batter and stir until you have smooth thin batter
5. Brush the cups lightly with some cooking oil
Steam the empty cups/muffin cups in the steamer for about 1 minute
6. Then pour this into the cups/muffin cup, about 3/4 full and then steam immediately for 5 minutes
7. Let cool down for about 1 minute before unmoulding
8. Top with preserved turnip topping and served with sambal
*I have updated the recipe below. A similar batter is used to make the Vietnamese Banh Beo
DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, which support this site at no extra cost to you. Learn more.
HELPFUL TOOLS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER WHEN MAKING CHWEE KUEH
I love using mini rubber spatula to unmould the cake instead of using toothpick. I feel like it makes my life so much easier, but do what best for you.
Chwee Kueh (Steamed Water Rice Cake with Preserved Turnip)
- Sambal chili of your choice
- Soak the chai poh in water for 2 minutes. Drain and squeeze out all excess water as much as you can. Finely chop them into small pieces. Heat 2 Tbsp of cooking oil in a wok/skillet. Stir-fry shallots until soft, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and stir fry for another 30 seconds. Add chopped preserved radish along with seasonings and stir-fry until fragrant and dry. Have a taste. It should be sweet and slightly salty. Add more sugar as needed
Make Chwee Kue:
- In a large bowl, mix together rice flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot flour & salt. Add 250 ml water and stir to mix. Add in the water which has been left 15 minutes after boiling. This step is very important. You don't want the flour to be cooked but you also don't want the water to separate from the flour, this method is to stabilize the flour and give each rice cake the dimple in the middle, like water ferns
- Prepare your steamer by adding water. Water in the steamer needs to be boiling at all time during the steaming of the rice cake. This is very important
- If you have individual condiments bowls, you can use them, or you can use mini muffin tins. Brush them with a bit of oil. Make sure you place these inside the steamer and let them steam empty for 1-2 mins, Then depending on the size of your bowls, spoon the batter to 3/4 of the bowls, ( It's easier to use measuring cup with pouts to pour the batter), close the steamer lid and steam on high for 5 minutes. I always give the batter a stir each time before I pour them into the bowls/cups
- Leave to cool before either taking the cake out and arrange on a plate and or you can leave them in the bowls and then fill with toppings. I used a mini rubber spatula to remove them from the bowl without any issue
- When ready to serve, sprinkle the radish topping on top and serve immediately