So, welcome to the first ever Malaysian Monday, where I’ll attempt a Malaysian sweet treat, and Mr. KH has to try it .
SerimukaToday’s dessert is called Serimuka (literally translated as “glow face” – I don’t really know the origin of the name, I assume it means it’s so tasty it puts a glow on your face). This kuih is made up of a glutinous rice layer and a coconut custard layer on top. It’s flavoured with pandan (screwpine) and steamed instead of baked.
I find a recipe in one of mum’s hand-me-down cookbooks in which she’s collected recipes from various sources. It looks promising as the one I’ve picked has a little tick next to it, marked “good”.
(The measurements given here are 2/3 from the original recipe.)
6oz (625g) glutinous rice
½ cup (150g) thick coconut milk*
1 cup (250g) thin coconut milk*
(I’ve used fresh coconut milk, as described below, but tinned coconut milk can be substituted. Use the milk as is for the thick portion, and water it down for the thin portion).
¼ cup (60g) caster sugar (or to taste)
3 tbsp (30g) rice flour (can be substituted with wheat flour)
About 10 pandan leaves
(do not substitute with pandan essence – it will only disappoint. If pandan is unavailable, the coconut layer can be flavoured with either palm sugar or brown sugar. I don’t see why vanilla extract wouldn’t work either.)
Pinch of salt.
(Pre-soaking time at least 4 hours)
First make the glutinous rice layer.
1) Soak glutinous rice in about 2 cups cold water. (The recipe doesn’t say for how long. I soaked it for 4 hours and it worked fine, although I assume it’s meant to be overnight)
2) Lightly oil a cake tin/ heatproof baking dish that will fit inside a steamer.
3) Drain soaked rice and mix with the thin coconut milk and salt.
4) Pour into the prepared tin/dish and smooth surface so that the rice lies in an even layer.
5) Tie a knot in one of the pandan leaves and put into the rice mixture.
6) Steam for about 12-15 minutes until the rice is cooked (taste to check. It will look translucent).
7) Remove from heat and flatten surface of rice firmly with a spoon. This will help it hold its shape when cut. Set aside.
1) Dice the pandan leaves and use a mortar and pestle to grind and extract juice. (My leaves were a bit on the dry side so I added about 1 tsp water). Strain and keep the bright green juice, discard the solids.
2) Beat the eggs and the sugar until sugar dissolves and mixture is light.
3) Beat in the thick coconut cream and the pandan juice.
4) Beat in the rice flour until smooth.
(Put the glutinous rice layer back into the steamer to warm it up a little – about 2 minutes)
5) Pour the coconut and egg mixture over the glutinous rice layer, cover and steam for about 15 minutes. Cook until preferred “setness” is achieved. I like the kuih to be a bit soft, so I cook the top layer until there is still a slight wobble in it – like a baked custard. Others prefer a firmer layer, and this can be achieved by adding more flour and a longer cooking time.
*Fresh coconut milk
(otherwise known as “How to do things the hard way”)
For authenticity’s sake, I decide to use fresh coconut milk- which is a long drawn out process in a Western kitchen.
Step 1: (Do this outdoors as the coconut juice will go everywhere). Place coconut on a tea towel in one hand. Using a heavy object like a rolling pin , whack the coconut across the middle, and rotate the coconut. Keep hitting and rotating and soon a crack will appear down the middle. Drain juice.
Step 2: Pop coconut halves in freezer for about half an hour, this makes it easier to extract the meat.
Step 3: Prise meat from shell, use vegetable grater or paring knife to peel of the attached brown layer. To make life easier, break up the halves with the rolling pin. (I had to keep mine in a half bowl shape because mini-critic senior wanted to keep it).
Step 4: For best results, grate the coconut flesh. But I am not that masochistic so I whack it into the food processor with about 1//2 a cup of water to loosen. Process until fine.
Step 5: Put grated coconut into a large bowl. Add ½ cup warm water. Use your hand to mush it around a bit, then take handfuls of the coconut and squeeze over a sieve. Collect “milk” in a bowl. Save the squeezed coconut bits. This first squeeze of milk is the thick milk.
Step 6: Add 1 cup warm water to the squeezed coconut. Repeat the squeeze and sieve process. You can discard the coconut after this, but I’ve saved it in the freezer for another project.
And how did the dessert turn out? I think it tasted fabulous and had the texture I wanted. It wasn’t as green as the traditional kuih, but I didn’t add food colouring which most kuih have.
What did Mr KH think? Here’s his score (and very vocal comments):
The MKH Malaysian Dessert Scale-O-Meter
(Scores out of 5)
1) Aesthetic Appeal : 2 ("It looks sludgy.")
2) Texture: 1.5 ("Eee! It resembles something that is dead!")
3) Taste: 2. ("Do I have to put it in my mouth? It smells like something not quite refrigerated properly…err…")When I finally convince him to take a bite – he says it tastes a bit *meh*. It’s mild enough but not to his taste. (“It tasted faintly of lawn clipping,” he remarks a bit later.)
Would he eat this dessert again: No.
Sigh…let’s see how it goes next Monday!