Tuesday, August 03, 2010

kuih bingka, also known as Chiu Chu Kuih or in English, "cassava cake"

I got inspired to make kueh [or "kuih" in malay : the malaysian word for a certain class of snacks, most often starchy and steamed, but can also include baked goods and sweet pancakes, generally sweet rather than savoury, but there're some exceptions] all of a sudden. I never liked them as a child, and most of my adulthood, preferring western desserts over Asian ones. In fact, I hated most of them, including mooncake, red bean soup, tang yuan.

However, perhaps I've been away from it so long that I somehow missed it. I don't know. perhaps it's just a case of not knowing what you've got till it's gone. This is a starchy sweet baked snack made from grated tapioca that I had a few times as a child, it's often bought from the local pasar malam [market] and I remember my dad calling it "mok shi koh" [sounds like mopiko! haha] which I guess was its Cantonese name but till this day I don't know. It's not particularly a Cantonese food. It's more of a Malaysian/Malay thing. I remember how he tried to get me to eat it and I didn't want to coz I didn't like it at the time. But now, after seeing it being sold at $2.50 for 4 pieces, I thought I might try my hand at it.

It was really easy to make since I bought the tapioca frozen and peeled from Hong Kong grocery on Clayton Road, and used canned coconut milk.
You can either do this the hard way, by buying fresh tapioca then peeling and grating it yourself, and buying a coconut and opening it, scraping its flesh and squeezing its milk out, or the easy way which I will show you here. This is my adaptation of it from looking at several recipes from books and the internet.

First, thaw 1kg of the frozen tapioca/cassava by soaking it in some water, then cut it up into smallish pieces and put in a blender so it gets blended to mush. Not very pretty looking, but it's supposed to be like that. By now it would be a white messy pulp. Add 350mls of coconut milk, an egg, 1 1/2 cup sugar, a tsp of pandan essence and 40g melted butter and mix well. Pour into a greased baking tin and bake till golden brown on top, around 1 hour but that depends on how big your pan is.

When done, let cool completely before cutting into slices. As in, COMPLETELY [i tried cutting it a bit too early and it stuck to the bottom of the pan] In winter, you could leave it outside to cool down. I couldn't do that coz there were possums in my area.

I was too excited to cut and taste it before it was done and I was glad that it tasted exactly as I had remembered, fragrant, with a subtle coconut milk flavour and a hint of ... something sweet smelling. It had the right bouncy yet sticky texture, and just the right amount of sweetness. Unlike most western sweets, its flavours were very subtle. Funny, though I hadn't had it in at least...15 years, its taste was not forgotten.


Say Wei said...

In followed your recipe and made some too!

Gina E. said...

I'm not game to try it, but it does sound nice - but in small quantities I would think (I've got a sweet tooth).