Ha, did you catch that? I said yam. My segue into this week’s Malaysian Monday item : Yam kuih, also known as Woo Tau Koh. When I say yam, most Asians will know that I am talking about Taro, that hairy brown tuber with the white and purple flecked insides. But in other parts of the world, the tuber referred to as yam is actually what we call sweet potato, which is orange (or purple or white depending where you are). If you want to see a photo of a yam and sweet potato side by side, I have one in this post.
Back to the dish today: yam kuih is a savoury snack and makes for a filling brunch or supper treat. It’s often found at potlucks and parties too. because it’s a dish that can be enjoyed even at room temperature.
I was inspired to make this because a) I’d found a ziplock bag of cubed fresh yam stashed in the freezer, and b) I was going through some recipe cards mum had given me and came across the recipe.
These recipe cards were distributed by a leading Malaysian margerine manufacturer, and the styling is definitely 70s. Take this chicken salad for example...
Who knew that reassembling chicken into a semblance of a whole would be such a great serving idea!?
And before I go off on anymore tangents, here’s how I made the Yam kuih:
(I used some ingredients from the recipe card, but made the base of the kuih by adapting a recipe found in a book called Hot Favourites: Kuih, which I’d mentioned before. I know it sounds like a lot of Franken-recipeing, but Malaysian dishes are like that. You can tweak and add and subtract until you find something to match your own tastebuds. I also made a smaller serve than either recipe recommended).
250g (about 2 cups) Taro, peeled and cut into small cubes
2 cloves garlic - finely chopped
3 tablespoons dried shrimp (or to taste)
150 g (about 1 1/4 cup) rice flour
2 tbsp corn flour
1 tbsp plain (wheat) flour
2 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper to season (the recipe called for chicken stock granules, and I’ve seen some other recipes that use five spice powder. I found the kuih flavourful enough with the garlic and dried prawns and garnish to help it along).
To garnish - deep fried onion, green eschallots, fresh chilli, preserved salted radish (chai por), dried prawns. (Use as much or as little as you fancy - finely dice the bigger ingredients)
From left: yam, dried prawns, salted radish
First I usually soak and rinse the dried prawns before using to get rid of excess salt and to remove any impurites. I’m not sure if anyone else does this or whether I’m just fussy. I drain the prawns on paper towels.
Prepare a steamer and a pan to cook a kuih in. I lightly greased a non-stick loaf pan to use.
Mix all the flours together with the water to form a thin batter. Set aside. Heat some vegetable oil in a wide frying pan (over medium high heat), fry the dried prawns until crisp and golden, then remove about a tablespoonful to use as garnish later. Add the garlic and the yam cubes and stir-fry until the garlic is fragrant, be careful to keep the mixture moving so it doesn’t burn. Lower the heat then pour the batter in and stir constantly until mixture thickens (around 4 or 5 minutes). Season well, remember that the garnish will be pretty salty too thanks to the dried prawns and preserved radish.
Pour mixture into prepared pan and steam until cooked. It took about an hour, and I wasn’t sure how to test for doneness. I touched the top of the kuih and it was sticky but firm, and the edges had started to come away slightly from the sides of the pan.
Sprinkle garnish ingredients over the top, leave to cool before attempting to slice. I, of course, was trying to be too clever and thought that if I tipped the pan upside down, I’d get a nice loaf shape that would be easy to cut. In theory it would have worked if I had waited till the kuih was much cooler. In reality, I ended up with a messy “top” but at least the garnish helped disguise this flaw a little bit.
I’m sending this dish over to Suresh (email@example.com) at 3 Hungry Tummies who will be hosting Muhibbah Malaysian Monday 6. If you’d like to join in, here’swhat you need to do.
Have a great start to the week!