KitchenTigress: Soon Kueh (Turnip Dumplings) (I)

Soon Kueh (Turnip Dumplings) (I)

Soon kueh is a Teochew steamed dumpling. It used to be made with bamboo shoots. That's why it's called "soon kueh", which means shoot dumpling. Nowadays, jicama has replaced bamboo shoots because it's way cheaper.

Soon kueh may be eaten steamed or pan-fried. Some people like it with chilli sauce and sweet black soya sauce. Some like it without. It's great for breakfast. It's also a great snack.

I've tried 6 soon kueh recipes.

๐Ÿ‘Ž The one from Chan Chen Hei, ex-chef of Hai Tien Lo, failed outright because it had way too much water. What the recipe made was a batter, not dough.

๐Ÿ‘Ž The Best of Singapore Cooking gave me a dough that cracked even before it was steamed. The ingredients – rice flour, tapioca starch, water, salt and oil – were similar to the recipe I succeeded with. But the water added to the dry ingredients was hot instead of boiling.

๐Ÿ‘Ž I also tried the recipe in Cooking for the President. The dough I got, using rice and tapioca starch cooked on the stove, was simply too wet and soft to be shaped or rolled. I think there was way too much water and oil.

๐Ÿ‘Ž And then there was a Taiwanese recipe which used glutinous rice flour mixed with a bit of plain flour. That one wasn't too bad if eaten hot but it hardened badly when it was cold.

๐Ÿ‘ŽThe 5th recipe I tried was cornercafe's recipe for 'crystal pastry', which used tapioca starch, wheat starch, oil, salt and boiling water. What I got was a very bouncy dough that squelched (!) when it was kneaded, somewhat like what The Best of Singapore Cooking gave me although the ingredients and methods were substantially different between the two.

The squelching was rather scary. I threw away the dough before it became alive and attacked me.

๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘ The successful recipe I tried was from Rose's Kitchen. The dough was not bouncy, not too soft and, most importantly, it didn't fart squelch. The minute I started kneading, it just felt right.

Search mission accomplished.

How to make sooh kueh

Step-by-step guide

You'll have lots of fun with this recipe. After dividing the dough, make each piece into a ball, then flatten it into a round disc with your palm. If it's round before you roll it, it's easy to keep it round as you roll it. Just roll, rotate 45ยบ, roll, rotate 45ยบ, till you get the right size.

soon kueh
(For 32 dumplings)

  • 300 g rice flour
  • 100 g tapioca starch – plus ¼ cup for adjusting and dusting
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 600 ml water, boiling
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2½ tbsp vegetable oil
  • 40 g dried prawns – rinse and soak in 2 tbsp water till soft, about 15 minutes; squeeze dry, reserving the water; chop roughly
  • 4 cloves garlic, peel and chop roughly
  • 40 g dried mushrooms – remove stalks and reserve for other dishes; rinse caps and soak in ¼ cup water till soft, about 30 minutes; squeeze dry, reserving the water; slice thinly
  • 1.1 kg turnip (aka ๆฒ™่‘›, bangkuang, yam bean and jicama) – wash, peel, cut matchstick size to yield 1 kg; if grating, make sure grater doesn't turn turnip mushy

  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp light soya sauce
  • ¾ tsp ground white pepper

  • 1 tbsp shallot or vegetable oil

  1. To make dough, mix rice flour, tapioca starch and salt thoroughly. Pour boiling water evenly over mixture. Immediately stir till well mixed and cool enough to handle but still extremely hot. Drizzle with vegetable oil. Knead till evenly mixed to make a smooth, sticky dough. Continue kneading, dusting with tapioca starch till dough is no longer sticky (like glue) but still quite tacky (like Post-it paper). Cover and let dough rest 10 minutes or up to a few hours.
  2. To make filling, heat vegetable oil in a wok till just smoking. Over high heat, stir-fry dried prawns till lightly golden. Add garlic and stir-fry till translucent. Add dried mushrooms and stir-fry till everything is nicely golden brown. Add turnip and continue stirring till thoroughly heated and wok is very hot again. Add light soya sauce and sugar. Stir till light soya sauce is absorbed. Add water drained from dried prawns and dried mushrooms, which should be no more than 2 tbsp or so.

  3. Continue stir-frying till turnip is wilted but still crunchy. Sprinkle with ground white pepper. Stir through. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Turn off heat. Push turnip to side of wok to drain. If turnip is very wet, drain in a colander. Leave till cold. Transfer to a bowl.
  4. To make soon kueh skin, dust worktop lightly with tapioca starch. Knead and roll dough into a log shape, dusting with tapioca starch if too sticky. Cut into 32 pieces (30-32 g each). Shape into round balls. Cover.

  5. Flatten dough ball into a round disc. Roll to form 11-cm circle about 2 mm thick, dusting with tapioca starch to prevent sticking.

  6. Place 30-32 g filling on the dough, in the middle. Fold bottom half of dough upward, bringing edges together. Press to seal, from the middle to the corners. Set aside, covered. Fill and wrap rest of dough as before.
  7. To steam, brush perforated tray with oil, or line with parchment paper. Place soon kueh on the tray spaced 1 cm apart. Steam over rapidly boiling water till slightly puffed, about 10 minutes. Brush lightly with oil. Transfer to an oiled plate, spaced apart whilst cooling down. If desired, pan-fry just before eating.
  8. To serve, drizzle soon kueh with sweet dark soya sauce and/or chilli sauce. Leftovers should be refrigerated, then steamed or pan-fried till thoroughly heated through before eating.