One of the joys of growing up in Indonesia is the array of snacks one can get from any wet market. I used to accompany my Mom on her weekly market shopping every Sunday morning, and as a treat, she would always stop by the snack stalls to buy some snacks home.
There are probably hundreds of items to choose from, and this chwee kueh (water cakes) served with preserved radish topping happens to be one of our favorite snacks, so we often have these when I was little. With this recipe, now I can make them anytime I want even when I live halfway across the globe from home. 🙂
What you need to make chwee kueh (water cake)
There are two parts to this snack, one is the chwee kueh (water cake) itself, and then there is the preserved radish topping. To make the cakes, you will need:
When you mix the batter, you will notice that the batter is super thin and watery, and that’s where the name of the cake comes from. Chwee kueh (水粿) literally translates to water cakes! They are tasteless, with a jiggly and slightly chewy texture, but tastes amazing when paired with the preserved radish topping.
What you need to make the cai po (preserved radish) topping
Next part of the chwee kueh equation is the delicious preserved radish topping. For this, you will need:
You can buy preserved radish from most Asian/Chinese markets. Both the sweet version and the salted version are usually just sitting side by side. Be sure to wash the preserved radish in plenty of water until the water is clear. Also, remember to dry them really well since we don’t want any splatter when frying them.
How to cook chwee kueh, using a steamer vs. using a microwave
Once you have finished preparing the chwee kueh batter, you have two options to cook the water cakes:
1. A steamer
Most Asian households have a big multi-tiered steamer in their kitchen, so steaming food is very common.
Traditionally, chwee kueh is steamed in individual tin cups, smaller in size compared to a standard-size muffin cup. A multi-tiered steamer can easily steam the whole batch in one go.
2. A microwave
I find that in the US, most household doesn’t own a steamer, instead, almost everyone has a microwave.
Luckily, you can cook chwee kueh in a microwave too, just be sure to use silicon baking cups or other vessels that are microwave friendly. You can use glass/ceramic ramekins.
And if you don’t mind non-circular shapes, feel free to use a rectangular baking glass and just cut them up into individual portions later with a knife. Just try cooking with 1-minute increment until the cake is set. 🙂
How to cook the cai po (preserved radish) topping
Preparing the topping is super easy. Once you have prep your preserved radish, what remains is a simple frying job. And here are my pointers to make delicious preserved radish topping:
- Since preserved radish can burn on high heat, be sure to use medium heat only. It should take about 15 minutes to properly fry them to fully develop the flavor.
- If during mid frying, you notice that the radish becomes dry, you can add 1-2 tablespoon of oil.
Also, I only use 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce since I think this amount is enough. Some snack vendors that I frequent in the past can be stingy with the radish, instead, they increase the amount of dark soy sauce to compensate. If you have never sampled chwee kueh from more honest vendors, you will be pleasantly surprised with the generous amount of radish in this recipe. Enjoy!
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