Monday, August 17, 2009
Kuih ketayap is a sweet Malaysian snack that may seem quite familiar because it is actually a filled crepe. The outer part of the kuih is a pancake flavoured with pandan, which is then wrapped around a filling made of coconut and palm sugar. (BTW, I’ve only recently realised that I’ve been pronouncing the word crepe wrong – it doesn’t rhyme with ape, oops).
Why is it called Kuih Ketayap? The Ketayap (a.k.a Kopiah), is a type of headwear similar to a skullcap, worn by Muslim men. The patterns on the lacy crepe do look a little like the patterns on a ketayap. Kuih Ketayap is also sometimes called Kuih Gulung (gulung is the Malay word for roll) or Kuih Dadar (I’m not 100% sure but I think dadar refers to the way the pancake is cooked).
I find a recipe for Kuih Ketayap in a little book called “Hawkers Flavours – A guide to Penang Hawkers Food” (published by S. Abdul Majeed and Co). My dear mum, fearing that I would starve to death in unknown climes, had tucked this book into my luggage when I first moved to Sydney over a decade ago.
After following the recipe to the letter, I decide to go out on a limb and make my own completely untraditional chocolate version too.
And did Mr. Kitchen Hand find the Kuih Ketayap to his liking?
The MKH Scale-O-Meter (Scores out of 5)
Aesthetic appeal: 2. “It’s kind of limp green”
Texture: 1 for the exterior pancake (Bit too “rubbery” ) and 3.5 for the filling “Nice and chewy."
Taste: 3. “I’m a sucker for coconut.”
He also liked the chocolate version because “the crepe was lighter and softer, it had the slight bitterness from chocolate and the flavour combo worked well.”
Finally! Success in small doses. I consider it a success because even with his harsh marking of the dessert, Mr. Kitchen Hand and the two mini critics devoured all the kuih in one sitting.
Kuih Ketayap Recipe
(From Hawkers Flavours. I made half portions of the original recipe – makes about a dozen small kuih ketayap)
For the pancake
15 g pandan (screwpine) leaves (about 10 medium leaves)
(If unavailable just add a few drops of green food colouring)
125 ml water*
125 ml plain flour
green food colouring (optional)
For the filling
125g fresh grated coconut (I used the coconut I froze from this recipe. You can also use dessicated coconut instead, but the texture will be a bit different.)
80g gula melaka (a dark palm sugar made from the sap of the coconut tree – substitute with palm sugar or brown sugar if unavailable)
(I also needed about ¼ cup water and a pinch of soda bicarbonate)
Make the filling first so that it can cool. Put the coconut and the sugar into a heavy bottomed pan and cook over medium heat. Add a little bit of water (about ¼ cup or so) to help dissolve the sugar and mix with the coconut. Simmer gently and stir often to prevent burning. Cook until the sugar caramelises, the coconut is tender and the mixture becomes thick and jamlike. I found that after 20 minutes of cooking, my coconut was still quite tough so I added a pinch of soda bicarbonate to the mix. I’m not sure if it was a placebo effect but it seemed to do the trick.
Method for the pancake:
Grind pandan leaves in a mortar and pestle (traditional way), or whiz in food processor until fine. Sieve and collect the resulting green juice, discard solids.
Beat the egg lightly with the oil. Sift flour into bowl, make a well in the centre, then pour in the beaten egg. Mix lightly, then add the water and pandan juice and mix well using a whisk until batter is smooth. (I also added a few drops of green food colouring to boost the colour). The original recipe doesn’t say to do so, but let the batter stand for about an hour).
Lightly oil a small non-stick frypan (or crepe pan if you have one), and pour a small amount of batter onto the pan. Swirl and tilt the pan to get a circular pancake (I try very hard and only get one perfect circle!). If the batter is too thick add more water. Flip and cook on the other side as you would a crepe/pancake.
Put the cooled filling onto a cooked pancake and roll up. Repeat until all the filling is used up. Serve warm or cold.
* [In the interests of adhering strictly to a traditional recipe, I’ve used water even though it makes for a heavier batter. Fresh milk is not a common traditional ingredient as Malaysia is not really a dairy producing country. A lot of Malaysian recipes call for canned evaporated milk or condensed milk. When I was growing up, we’d sometimes get a house call from a bicycling milkman - who sold fresh unpasteurised cows milk, but it wasn’t the most common occurrence. Of course, things have changed and both local and imported cartons of milk can now be found at the supermarket.]
Completely not traditional Chocolate Kuih Ketayap
(Filling recipe my own. For the crepe recipe, I look through many books and end up adapting from recipes in Stephanie Alexander’s Cook’s Companion and The Margaret Fulton Cookbook ).
For the filling
45g desiccated coconut (about ½ cup)
30 g brown sugar (about 2 Tbsp)
Pinch of cinnamon powder (optional)
Cook the coconut according to the method above. I didn’t feel the need to add any soda bicarbonate this time.
For the chocolate crepes
25g cocoa powder
1 tbsp butter
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
pinch of salt.
Sift flour, cocoa powder and sugar into bowl. Warm milk and butter in microwave (or on the stove) until butter is melted , stir in the salt. Make well in flour, add beaten eggs and mix partially. Add the milk mixture and mix thoroughly with whisk until smooth. Let batter stand for 2 hours. Cook as above.
Serve with ice cream.
(I’d also made a ganache from 60g coconut cream and 60g chocolate just to see if it could be done. It worked and I got a thick ganache but I wasn’t impressed with the taste. The chocolate was too strong and I couldn’t taste the coconut at all. The ganache texture wasn’t as smooth and when I tried to warm it up a little in the microwave, it went all oily on me. Lucky it was only a small batch!)
Have a great start to the week and come back soon to check out the next Malaysian Monday instalment.