You know you’re maturing when you long for certain foods you grew up with; those treats that only get made on special occasions.
You know you’re getting older when you crave that food so much, you decide to learn how to make it yourself; so you can make it yourself, *head down and mumbles*… for those times when those cravings become unbearable. (That sounds crazy , but if you search deep within you, you know what I mean right?)
For me, one of those special foods is Ang Ku Kueh (red tortoise cakes). With Chinese New Year fast approaching, it seems timely for me to share the recipe, (just in case there are those out there craving these delicious morsels and don’t have ready access to them).
Ang Ku Kueh is a sticky, sweet rice cake dessert. The red pastry on the outside is made out of glutinous rice and the filling is usually a yellow mung bean filling (slightly sweetened), or a peanut filing (my favourite, again also slightly sweetened). Ang Ku Kueh is made for special celebrations, like Chinese New Year, birthdays or a baby’s full moon (when they are one month old).
For years and years, I hassled / begged various older Chinese women (aka. “Aunties”) to teach me how to make Ang Ku Kueh. All politely said, “Of course”, but lessons and recipes never eventuated. (I dare say no one guards their prized recipes as much as some “Aunties”_.
Thank goodness for blogs – a whole group of professional sharers (or over-sharers). I found Fatboo, of Let’s Get Fat Together‘s, recipe most helpful.
Now, before I go and give “Aunties” a bad reputation, let me say for the record they can be very helpful and generous too. One Aunty gave me a very precious wooden Ang Ku Kueh mould. This particular mould makes Ang Ku Kueh’s that fit within the palm of your hand, which in my opinion is just the right size.
When making my Ang Ku Kuehs, I make these slight variations to Fatboo, of Let’s Get Fat Together‘s recipe:
- I always purchase 2 bags of 500g glutinous rice flour instead of one. I find that I need a lot of glutinous rice flour to dust the mould as I make the Ang Ku Kuehs.
- Instead of keeping the Ang Ku Kueh pastry in a bowl, covered with a wet towel (which probably works well), I keep the dough wrapped within some cling wrap, (a habit from my cake decorating classes that I can’t seem to shake).
- The amounts that Fatboo quotes for the filling always seem too much. I always have ample filling left over. I think even if you halved his filling ingredient amounts, you would still have enough for the amounts that he has given for his Ang Ku Kueh pastry. (Please note, this may also be due to the small size of my Ang Ku Kueh mould).
- I find forming the filling into compact balls, and then placing them onto the Ang Ku Kueh pastry to wrap very difficult and time consuming. Instead, I roll out a small amount of Ang Ku Kueh pastry, place the pastry flat within my palm, spoon a small amount of filling onto the pastry, wrap the pastry around the filling and roll it into a ball before placing it within my Ang Ku Kueh mould.
- Times for steaming your Ang Ku Kueh will vary, depending on the size of your Ang Ku Kueh moulds. You don’t want to over steam them because they’ll become soft mushy puddles… (trust me, I know). It’s a bit of trial and error. Take out one and taste it. The pastry should be “al dante” – (for lack of a better description).
- My final tip comes from another Aunty, (see they can be very helpful and generous too!). She says the secret to forming clear tortoise shell designs on your Ang Ku Kueh is to ensure your fillings are very, very dry. Instead of steaming her mung beans then frying it (as in Fatboo’s recipe), she uses her pressure cooker. I don’t have a pressure cooker, so can’t say I’ve tried her tip – but I have seen and tasted her Ang Ku Kuehs and they are very good!
Having looked over these notes and seeing these gorgeous pictures of Ang Ku Kueh has stirred my desires to make a batch or two for Chinese New Year. Good thing they come in small portions; (my waistline is still recovering from Christmas).
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