Rice pudding, Teochew’s secret to prosperity ? Am I exaggerating? Well, a bit, may be. However, it was partially true because the Teochew people did earn a living by selling chwee kueh during those earlier days in Malaysia. Even today, we still can see Teochew people selling these small bowls of rice pudding, beside shop houses and at the markets near my area.
When the Teochew people first set foot on the land of Malaysia, just like Chinese of other dialects, not all of them came with barrels of gold. For many, life overseas had to start from scratch. Many earned a living by selling their traditional food like ‘chwee kueh’ along with other nonya food. Their younger generations thrived and many had succeeded in business and professional field. In a way, chwee kueh represents their fighting spirit to be able to survive in such an adverse condition far away from their ancestors’ homes.
Rice pudding is called ‘chwee kueh’ in Teochew dialect. We used to have this for breakfast. My late mom would grind the rice using the stone mill. Today we can use a good blender to grind the rice.
Here I would like to share one simple recipe that is popular among the Teochew hawkers.
For babies and the sick, use the second recipe.
Chwee kueh, the Teochew rice pudding
1 cup rice flour
1 – 2 tsp corn flour
125-150 ml water ( 1/3 cup of water )
3 cups boiling water
For the topping, we need the following ingredients :
200 g sweet chai poh, the preserved turnip
50 g mushroom, soaked overnight and chopped finely
2 dry chilies, seeded and minced
1 tbs light soy sauce
3 shallots (optional) – sliced
Prepare the topping prior to cooking the pudding
- Fry the mushroom, sliced shallots and chilies till fragrant.
- Add chai poh and continue stir frying until the mixture turns slightly brown.
- Season with light soy sauce and pepper powder.
Cooking the rice pudding
- Add corn flour to the rice flour.
- Mix the flour with 125 ml of water. Add more water if the mixture is too thick.
- Pour in 3 cups of boiling water to the batter.
- Keep on stirring until the batter is no more lumpy.
- Spoon the half-cooked pudding into the bowls till 3/4 full.
- Steam for 15 minutes (10 minutes for smaller bowls).
- Serve with chai poh topping and black soy sauce.
Make 6-7 porcelain bowls of chwee kueh.
For babies and sickly people,it is better to make chwee kueh using rice instead of rice flour.
1 cup local rice
3 cups of water
- Soak the rice in one cup of water overnight.
- Strain the rice.
- Blend the rice with 3 cups of water.
- Continue blending until the rice batter becomes very fine.
- Keep aside and let the rice batter stand for 1 hr or longer. Omit this step if your blender is a good one.
- Add 2 tsp of corn flour if it is not for babies and sick people.
- Filter if necessary.
- Blend again until the batter is very fine.
- Cook the batter in the wok until it becomes thick like pudding.
- Spoon into small bowls till 3/4 full.
- Steam for 10 minutes and the pudding is done.
Children under 1 year old and the sick should be fed without salt and the chai poh topping. Chwee kueh with thick soy sauce is allowed for the sick.
The rice used in this pudding is the only factor affecting its flavor, so good rice is the keyword.
Rice pudding in Taiwan has minced meat and mushroom as topping. Here in Malaysia and Singapore, the ingredients of the topping are chai poh, dry shrimps, shallots, chilies and pepper powder. Normally, those we buy from the stalls are mini bowls of chwee kueh. The Teochiew vendors would scoop out the rice pudding and add topping on top. In my recipe, I use a medium size bowl ( 4″ diameter), easier to wash if you want to know why. Also try to use porcelain bowls for steaming because one can easily take out the pudding using a wet plastic knife.
Remember to try your skill on this recipe. Who knows you might earn a business from it? Share your fruit of effort with us by posting on our page (coming soon).
Enjoy the fruit of your labour by cooking chwee kueh !
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