Chwee Kueh (Steamed Water Rice Cake with Preserved Turnip)

Chwee Kueh (Water Cake with Chai Poh / Preserved Turnip)

Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Resting time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 32 small water cakes
Author: Marvellina
Learn how to make soft water cake topped with sweet and savory chai poh (preserved turnip) toppings and served with spicy sambal sauce.
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Version 1 (Rice flour + Tapioca flour):

  • 150 gr rice flour
  • 25 gr tapioca flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 200 ml water room temperature
  • 600 ml boiling water (Bring to a boil & leave for 15 mins)
  • 2 tsp cooking oil

Version 2 (Rice flour + Wheat starch + Cornstarch):

  • 150 gr rice flour
  • 12 gr wheat starch not all-purpose flour
  • 12 gr cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 100 ml water room temperature
  • 500 ml boiling water (Bring to a boil & leave for 15 mins)
  • 2 tsp cooking oil


  • 150 gr sweet chai poh (preserved turnip) or mixture of both sweet and savory chai poh
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 shallots finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp sugar more as needed
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground white pepper

Serve with:

  • Sambal chili of your choice

Helpful tools:

Or you can this if you don't have the cups:


Preparing topping:

  • Rinse the chai poh in water several times to get rid of some of the saltiness. 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 batter (applicable to both version 1 and 2):

  • In a large bowl, mix together all the flour and salt. Add room temperature water and stir to mix. The mixture will be thick. Add in the boiling 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 in a rolling boil at all time during the steaming of the rice cake. This is very important or your cakes will come out starchy
  • 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. Give the batter a stir each time before I pour them into the bowls/cups as the flours tend to settle at the bottom after a while


  • 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