Ang Ku Kueh (Red Tortoise Cakes), a traditional Singaporean Chinese celebratory pastry, that has an iconic flavor you will never forget.
Ang Ku Kueh (Red Tortoise Cakes) instead of a birthday cake! Ever heard of that? Yesterday, it was Kian's birthday, the last year of his 30s. I have been bugging him about how we should celebrate it. Should we have a little party at home? Or does he want an intimate dinner with a few close friends? He has never felt comfortable being the centre of attention so he said he just wants to hang out with us and have dinner at home.
So, instead of a birthday cake, I decided to make a traditional Chinese celebratory pastry, "Ang Ku Kueh" (Red Tortoise Cakes). It is a small round or oval shaped Chinese pastry with a sweet mung bean filling wrapped in a soft sticky and chewy glutinous rice skin. It is traditionally red in color and molded like tortoise shells. Red is an auspicious color and it is believed that eating tortoises would bring longevity to those eating it as well as good fortune and prosperity.
I texted my godsister to ask for my godmother's recipe. She replied back with a voice recording of my godmother reciting the ingredients and cooking instructions, in Cantonese! And like most Asian cooking usually is, she never included the measurements. She said that she makes it based on instincts and that I had to "feel" it myself! Now, that was going to be a real challenge. Fortunately, my mother had arrived a few days ago from Singapore for a visit. And together, we managed to successfully recreate my godmother's recipe and recorded down the measurements as close as possible.
Ang Ku Kueh (Red Tortoise Cakes)
by Miss Crumbs-A-Lot
3/4 lb Peeled Split Mung Beans
10 leaves of Pandan Leaves (Screwpine Leaves)
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Coconut Milk
3 to 3 1/2 cups Glutinous Rice Flour
1 1/2 lb Yellow Sweet Potatoes
1/2 cup Water
Red Food Coloring
Banana Leaf (cut into 3 x 4 inch rectangles and oiled)
1. Soak mung beans in water overnight.
2. Drain the overnight soaked mung beans and steam cook them with a bunch of 5 pandan leaves (screwpine leaves) for 20 min or until soft.
3. Mash the cooked mung beans finely, add sugar and coconut milk.
4. Fry the paste with another bunch of 5 pandan leaves (screwpine leaves) in a wok on lo heat until it is soft, fragrant and it can be molded. Remove the pandan leaves and set aside.
5. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1 inch cubes. Steam cook them for 10 min or until soft.
6. Mash the sweet potatoes finely, add the glutinous rice flour and water. Knead until you reach a soft doughy consistency. If it is too wet/dry, add flour/water respectively.
7. Add the red food coloring to the dough and continue kneading until it is well mixed.
8. Wrap balls of the mung beans with the dough and press them into a tortoise shell mold. If the mold is not available, you may shape them into flat oval discs.
9. Place the cakes onto oiled banana leaves and shape the leaves according to the shape of the cakes. Steam cook them over med heat for 10 min.
10. Allow them to cool till room temperature before serving.
Makes 24 pieces
A Singaporean SAHM living in Houston, Texas. Discovering her potential in the kitchen with authentic Singaporean Cuisine. And exploring the dynamic food scene Houston has to offer.