KitchenTigress: Kueh Ko Swee (Kuih Kosui)

Kueh Ko Swee (Kuih Kosui)

Kueh ko swee (kuih kosui) is a steamed kueh made with a half tapioca starch and half rice flour batter. It's sweetened with gula melaka and sugar, and pandan leaves add a subtle fragrance. The texture is slightly bouncy because lye is added to the batter.

After the batter is steamed and cooled, the kueh is cut and then tossed in freshly grated coconut to enhance the texture, colour and taste.

If you like, you can use some brown food colouring or black treacle to darken the kueh. The contrast between white and dark brown makes the kueh quite pretty.

The batter for kueh ko swee has to be cooked on the stove till quite thick before it's steamed.

The original recipe uses a water-bath but I don't. Provided the heat is VERY low and I whisk VERY vigorously, the batter doesn't turn lumpy.

Cooking over direct heat takes only a few minutes; with a water-bath, it'd be maybe 20 minutes.
The thickened batter is then steamed. Just 10 minutes would do, so kueh ko swee doesn't take long from start to finish.

If you want a kueh that's not too challenging, kueh ko swee is a good choice.

How to make kueh ko swee (kuih kosui)

Step-by-step guide

Kueh ko swee is made with an equal amount of tapioca starch and rice flour. A bit of lye gives it bounce and bite. Palm sugar adds a caramel flavour. A floral undertone comes from pandan leaves. Freshly grated coconut enhances the texture and colour.

kueh ko swee
(For 25 pieces)
  • 250 ml water
  • 4 young pandan leaves
  • 50 g dark brown palm sugar
  • 40 g sugar

  • 45 g tapioca starch
  • 45 g rice flour
  • ⅓ tsp orange lye
  • 160 ml water

  • ½ tbsp black treacle, or ¼ tsp brown liquid colouring

  • 100 g grated fresh coconut, without peel
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 4 young pandan leaves
  1. Bring 250 ml water, pandan leaves, palm sugar and sugar to a boil. Simmer gently, covered, for 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Discard pandan leaves.
  2. Whilst simmering, whisk tapioca starch, rice flour, orange lye and 160 ml water till smooth.

  3. Pour batter into sugar solution. Add black treacle or brown food colouring. Whisk till smooth. Turn on heat, very low. Whisk vigorously. Once whisk feels heavy, turn off heat immediately. Keep whisking vigorously till residual heat dissipates. Batter should now be just thick enough to form thick ribbons when whisk is lifted. If not, turn on heat again and whisk as before.

  4. Scrape batter into 15 x 15 x 5 cm cake pan lined with parchment paper. Wet spatula and smooth top of batter. Steam 10 minutes over low heat. Remove from steamer. Leave till cool.

  5. Sprinkle grated coconut with salt. Mix evenly. Place pandan leaves in middle of coconut. Steam 10 minutes over high heat. Discard pandan leaves. Remove from steamer. Leave till cool.
  6. Cut kueh into 25 pieces with scissors. Dredge in grated coconut till thoroughly coated. Serve as snack or dessert, sprinkled generously with grated coconut.