Kueh Ko Swee (Kuih Kosui)

Monday, 24 September 2012

Knock knock!

Who's there?

Kueh hamba!

Kueh ham . . .  who?

Kueh hamba, aka kueh ko swee and kuih kosui!

I think very few people have heard of kueh hamba. I certainly hadn't until I came across the unusual name in Cooking for the President.

Did you know "hamba" means slave?

Hmm . . .  slave cake . . . .

Next time there's a party in the office, why not have some slave cake. Know what I mean?

Kueh ko swee is half and half tapioca starch and rice flour sweetened with gula melaka and sugar.

A bit of lye gives it bounce and bite, and pandan leaves add a subtle fragrance.

Freshly grated coconut enhances 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.

I used to think making Nyonya/Malay kueh was very difficult. Then I discovered kueh bengka ubi which was as easy as a cake mix. That gave me confidence to try other recipes, so my repertoire of kueh-kueh is growing. I stick to the easy ones though, like kueh ko swee.

If, like me, you want a kueh that's not too challenging, "slave cake" is a good choice. Here's my video to make it really easy:

Source: Adapted from Cooking for the President
(Recipe 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

150 g grated fresh coconut, without peel
⅛  tsp salt
4 young pandan leaves

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.

Whilst simmering, whisk tapioca starch, rice flour, orange lye and 160 ml water till smooth.

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.

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.

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.

Cut kueh into 25 pieces with scissors. Dredge in grated coconut till thoroughly coated. Serve as snack or dessert, sprinkled generously with grated coconut.


Mas said...

Thanks for the sharing....

KT said...

You're welcome, Mas.

Joyce said...

Hi KT, can we use lye water instead? If yes, how much do we need to use? Thanks!

Joyce said...

Hi KT, can we use lye water instead? If yes, how much do we need to use? Thanks!

KT said...

Hi Joyce, the original recipes uses 1 tsp lye water. The lye water consists of 35 g lye and 125 g water. If your lye water's concentration is different, adjust as necessary.

Kent said...

just found your blog today, love the content. I will have to try all of your recipes.

Teralynn Hau said...

Hi, just found your blog lately. May I know what's orange lye n where can I find this? TIA

KT said...

Orange lye is lye that's orange. You can find it in my kitchen, second drawer on the right.

kutechick88 said...

so yum everything good on your webs ''

howchiak said...

the kue looks so good!!
i came across a recipe that uses plain flour instead of rice flour, will that make the texture softer?

Sam said...

Hi KT, is lye water same as alkaline water??

kt said...

Yes, Sam.

Shikin said...

Hello can i know where i singapore can i but orange lye?

Shikin said...

*in *buy. Sorry for the typos. My phone was lagging.

kt said...

Market stalls that sell Chinese groceries. Cheers.

juliehaw said...

I do this with 3 flours plain, tapioca and rice. One day I left out the alkaline water and it was still bouncy...love your blog. Think your tips are priceless because as all cooks know it is the little things that make or break the dish. That is why those who do not cook give up after one or attempts. They just don't know what to look out for. Am going to marry your kuih seri muka recipe with my peranakan grandmother-in-law's tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Andrew said...

Thanks for the sharing, its a really good guide. However i failed to make my kueh harden after steaming in the pot on both attempts. Any way i can salvage my food?

Andrew said...

i used 0.5tsp lye water

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