Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Old Fashioned Chinese Steamed Savoury Pumpkin Kueh 金瓜糕 with mince meat topping - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

From time to time, living away from my hometown does make me wonder why we are what we are.

Tomorrow is the National Day of Singapore and I do miss the days when I was part of the celebration. Thinking of these makes me crave to eat something nostalgic. Something homely that I used to eat when I was little.

Cooking and eating this old-fashioned pumpkin kueh reminds me a lot of my grandma too...

I clearly remember those days when I used to follow my grandma like a chick following her mum. We were always together in the markets, shops, hawkers and at home. Somehow, my grandma and I had a special bond together as she was always keen to show me how she shopped, created, and enjoyed many old fashioned classic Chinese and Nyonya food.

I remember once that she told me that she liked the miniature golden version of pumpkin kueh that is made with pumpkin mash, not shredded or diced but the ten-ish me told her that I liked mine to have lots of fried shallots and sweet sauce! Eventually, she made her miniature golden pumpkin kueh but with lots of fried shallots and sweet sauce!

It is my turn now to create my own pumpkin kueh! Surprisingly, mine won't be golden! And it won't have lots of fried shallot topping and sweet sauce! It is custom-made for my family and this is how I like my pumpkin kueh now...

Chinese steamed pumpkin kueh kuih cake
This is how I made my Chinese Steamed Savoury Pumpkin Kueh.
It is EXTRA TASTY with sweet tender Butternut Pumpkin cubes and soy-flavoured mince meat topping.

Like what my grandma said, we can create our pumpkin kueh accordingly to the way that we want and these are my how-to-make-my-fav-pumpkin-kueh-extra-tasty ideas for your references:

1) The Pumpkin
We are lucky these days that there are so many different types of pumpkins for us to choose.

If you like your kueh to be uniformly golden-coloured, you will have to make it with steamed-cooked pumpkin mash. To do that, you can use the common cheap Japanese or Kabocha or Kent pumpkin which is suitable to steam and mash or purée. If you are using pumpkin mash or purée, you might want to reduce the water added to mix the rice flour to about 150ml so that your kueh with the mash or purée can gel up better but it will be firmer and bouncier than usual.

If you like your kueh to be naturally-sweetened like ours, you can use the slightly expensive Butternut pumpkin which is dense, dry and sweeter than most other varieties.

Do you know that steaming the kueh with uncooked shredded or diced pumpkin will make the kueh taste naturally sweeter? Besides, the kueh that is made with diced pumpkin will give the plain bouncy steamed kueh pockets of sweet moist jelly-like texture. And of course, the kueh that is made with shredded pumpkin won't have this kind of complementary combining textures. Shredded or diced? It's your pumpkin kueh and so you decide.

2) The Dried Shrimps
You can use either finely chopped or chunky un-chopped dried shrimps but please do not omit this addition because it is an essential ingredient to make old fashioned kueh like these to be extra tasty!

3) Ground White Pepper
If you are afraid that your kids or you can't handle the extremely MILD heat of this pepper, you can add just a little but please do not omit it totally. And please do not replace it with ground black pepper. Without this iconic seasoning ingredient, I reckon that this old-fashioned kueh is never going to be fragrant enough!

4) The Meat Topping
Although the addition of cooked meat topping is not the usual typical way of steaming pumpkin kueh, it can make the kueh extra extra extra tasty! So why not give this addition a go and tell you what do you think?

5) The Other Toppings (Crispy Fried Shallots, Spring Onions and Sesame seeds)
I reckon the best way to enjoy most savoury steamed kuehs is to eat them with crispy fried shallots, spring onions, sesame seeds and sliced red chilies. Plus a drizzle of sweet sauce if you like!!!

Based on these ideas, this is how I made my version of steamed pumpkin kueh. You know what? Despite that my family and I are not a big fan of pumpkin, this is the one delicious pumpkin food that we will never reject!!! I hope that you will see eye to eye with me that this old-fashioned food is really timelessly yummy...

Chinese steamed pumpkin kueh kuih cake
This is our ideal Pumpkin Kueh 金瓜糕! What is yours?

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Here's the recipe if you want to make this delicious Steamed Pumpkin Kueh / Cake for your family like what I did.

Makes one 8 inches or 20 cm round cake that can serve 4-5 persons
You can use double amount of this recipe to make one 25 to 28 cm or 10 to 11 inches round cake.

The seasoning:
360ml water
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper

For the mince meat topping:
500g lean pork or chicken mince
1 1/2 tbsp (15g) cornflour
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp garlic mince
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce or caramel sauce, plus more if desired
1/2 tsp tau cheo (fermented soy beans paste / 豆酱) or fermented soy beans, plus more if desired
1-2 tbsp Chinese Shaoxing or Hua Diao cooking wine
ground white pepper to season

For the kueh:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp garlic mince
50g dried shrimps, soaked in boiling water for 15 mins, drained thoroughly, roughly chopped or un-chopped
300g pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes or shredded or steamed-cooked and mashed - see above the tip.
200g rice flour, mixed with 300ml water*

*the amount of water added can change the texture and tension of the cake. The texture of this cake is perfect for me but if you like something that is less firmer, you can add extra 1-2 tbsp water. If you are using pumpkin mash or purée, you might want to reduce this water amount to about 150ml or less (vary depending on the wetness of mash or purée) so that your kueh with the mash or purée can gel up better but it will be firmer and bouncier than usual.

To serve:
2-3 spring onions, use the green part, finely sliced
5 shallots, finely sliced and fried until deep golden brown and crispy
1 tsp white sesame seeds, lightly toasted to golden
1-2 red chili, finely sliced
your favourite chili sauce or traditional sweet fermented soy dipping sauce, recipe at here

extra vegetable oil to grease the pan and deep fry the shallots

Grease and line the interior of a round pan (preferably a loose bottom for easy removal) with oil and baking paper. Set aside.

For the seasoning:
Combine all seasoning ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

For the mince meat topping:
Combine mince, cornflour and sesame oil. Heat oil in another wok or a large frying pan with medium high heat. Cook garlic and ginger for about 2 mins or until golden brown and fragrant. Add mince and keep breaking the mince into small pieces as it cooks. Cook for about 3-4 mins until the mince is slightly golden brown. Add dark soy sauce, tau cheo and cooking wine. Stir to combine. Continue to cook with medium high heat until the sauce is almost dry. By then, the alcohol content of cooking wine should be fully vaporised. Season with ground white pepper or more soy sauce or tau cheo. Divide topping equally into two halves. Set aside.

For the kueh:
Place oil in a wok or large saucepan and allow the oil to heat up using medium high heat. Add garlic and dried shrimps into the hot oil and fry until fragrant, about 2-3 mins. Add pumpkin and toss and cook for about 1-2 mins until all are combined. Add the combined seasonings and mix well.

While cooking and stirring, add in the rice flour mixture slowly and cook until mixture thickened. Remove from the heat and transfer the mixture into the prepared pan. Using a spoon or spatula, spread the mixture evenly in the pan. Top mixture with half of the meat topping and cover with foil.

Steam with medium high heat for about 30-45 mins or until the kueh is firm enough to touch. The steaming duration vary depending on the heat and steamer that you used. Remove and allow kueh to cool slightly in the pan.

To serve:
When the kueh is cooled enough to touch, remove it from the pan. Serve with the other half of the mince meat topping. Sprinkle spring onions, shallots, sesame seeds and chilies on top. Serve and enjoy with your favourite chili sauce or sweet sauce.

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