A love for traditional kueh

Today I decided to attempt Grandma’s recipe for Chinese yam (taro) kueh*, one of her signature dishes – only with a slight twist by replacing yam with pumpkin. For friends who asked, here is the recipe for Chinese pumpkin kueh, and I dedicate it to the grand lady who first taught me to wield the spatula and wok.

Perhaps one day I will write Grandma’s story with her recipes.

Steamed Pumpkin Kueh

Steamed Pumpkin Kueh
Serves 8-10

You will need:
500g pumpkin
100g dried shrimps
200g shallots, sliced
2 red chilli peppers, chopped (optional)
1 sprig of spring onion, chopped (optional)
500g rice flour
2½ – 3 bowls tap water
5 bowls boiling water
1 dessertspoon sugar
1 dessertspoon white pepper powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon MSG
2-3 dessertspoons cooking oil
Steaming tray (26cm diameter x 5cm height)

1. Heat oil in wok and fry shallots till browned. Pour out oily shallots and set aside.
2. Soak dried shrimps in some water, drain and pound in mortar till flaky.
3. Using the same wok used to fry shallots, stir-fry dried shrimps for a few minutes before adding oily shallots. Stir-fry for another few minutes then scoop out and set aside.
4. Remove pumpkin skin, rinse and chop into approximately 10mm cubes or smaller if preferred. Stir-fry in the same wok for a few minutes and set aside.
5. Set five bowls of water to boil.
6. In the meantime, put rice flour into a big pot. Add tap water, salt, MSG, sugar and pepper, mixing well.
7. When boiling water is ready, add into the mixture and stir, mixing ingredients evenly.
8. Add in the pumpkin and most of the dried shrimps and shallots mixture, leaving a little for garnishing. Stir to mix well.
9. Coat steaming pan with a little oil before pouring the mixture into the pan.
10. Steam for one to two hours, depending on steaming pan and steamer used. To check if kueh is ready, push a chopstick into it; it is ready when the chopstick comes out relatively clean.
11. Garnish with the remainder of the dried shrimps and shallots, and chopped spring onion and chilli peppers if desired. (Spring onions enhance the taste; add chilli peppers if you like it spicier.)

*Kueh is the colloquial term used in Asia to refer to steamed snacks, usually made out of flour and other condiments, and can be sweet or as in this recipe, savoury.

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