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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Steamed Yam Cake 芋头糕

It has been a real long break from blogging - my head had been buried in books in the past couple of months in preparation for a couple of exams, we made a trip back to Malaysia for my sis-in-law's graduation, I headed off for a reunion trip with my high school friends in New York City and Chicago soon after returning here, went for a college interview and thankfully, I got accepted!

I had the joy of hosting two of my friends who extended their stay in the States after the reunion, and it was just within the past week did I slowly resume cooking after months of going inactive.

One thing that one of them, Siew Hoon specially requested for - the Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot 小肥羊火锅. She has always been a huge fan of this, and it was thanks to her that I was first introduced to this Mongolian Hot Pot during our college years about 6 years ago. One of her must-have in the hot pot - yam! The remaining yam that did not end up in the hot pot - they ended up right here - steamed yam cake!

This is a recipe by Su-yin from Bread et Butter in her guest post Yam Cake Recipe (Or Kuih) for Rasa Malaysia. It was a love-at-first-try for me when I first made it a couple of years ago. Su-yin's recipe is simple enough - it comes in a simple ratio of yam:rice flour:water at 1½:1:2. They can be measured with just anything - a bowl or a cup, big or small. This recipe is as good as a fool-proof one as long as the ratio is right. I have, however, had my fair share of not-so-successful attempts, thanks to my lack of skill and experience. Some notes from those experiences of mine:

1. As much as it feels so tempting to load up on yam and dried shrimps, do not overdo them - or you risk ruining the cake's texture - it may turn out hard. You can, however, garnish as generously as you want before serving it.
2. Check that you have enough boiling water in the steamer to last through the steaming process. I ran out of water in the steamer once, and it totally ruined my timing.
3. Let the freshly steamed yam cake cool down completely before serving them. The shape holds better as they cool down - it makes cutting easier.

Steamed Yam Cake 芋头糕
Adapted from Rasa Malaysia
Original source Bread et Butter
Makes a 8" pan
1½ bowl yam, diced into 1-2cm cubes
3/4 bowl dried shrimp, soaked, drained, and coarsely chopped
5 shallots, minced
1 bowl rice flour
2 bowls water
2 tbsps wheat starch
1 tsp five spice powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper powder
cooking oil

dried shrimps, soaked, drained, coarsely chopped, and browned in oil
2 stalks spring onion, sliced
crispy fried shallots (recipe here)

1. Lightly oil a pan over medium-high heat. Add in the dried shrimps. Fry for about a minute and add in shallots. Fry until aromatic and lightly browned. Add more oil from time to time if it gets too dry.

2. Add in the diced yam, mix, and fry until lightly browned.

3. In a bowl, mix in water, rice flour, wheat starch, five spice powder, salt and white pepper powder. Stir to form a smooth batter.

4. Add this batter to the pan and stir to mix everything well. The mixture will thicken almost instantaneously.

5. Once well mixed, pour the mixture into a well greased heatproof pan. Transfer the pan into the steamer and cover.

6. Steam on high heat for 45 minutes. Test its readiness with a skewer/chopstick. A skewer/chopstick that comes out clean indicates that the yam cake is ready.

7. Remove the pan from steamer. Garnish generously with crispy fried shallots, spring onion and fried dried shrimps all over the top.

8. Let cool completely before serving. Best served with chili sauce. My favorite - the Sriracha sauce!


  1. What is the size of your bowl??

    1. I didn't use a bowl; I used a 1-cup measuring cup and filled it to the brim instead. As mentioned in the blog, you can use any size or bowl that you wish, as long as you keep the ratio of of yam:rice flour:water at 1½:1:2. They can be measured with just anything - a bowl or a cup, big or small.

  2. love this recipe! best orr kuih ever! i measure my chinese bowl to be 250ml and i used corn starch.

  3. Love this recipe. Wondering if pumpkin can be used instead of yam.

    1. I personally haven't tried this, but I don't see why not. Good luck giving it a try, and I hope it turns out great! :)

  4. if I don't add yam, the rice flour and water ratio still the same?

    1. Hi Theresa, I'm afraid I can't help (sorry!). I honestly don't know how the ratio should be adjusted in your case; you may have to do some experiments there!


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