Monday, September 27, 2021

Black Sesame Ang Ku Kuih / Black Sesame Ang Ku Kueh / O Ku Kueh / 黑龟粿 / 黑芝麻龟糕

I'm not going to deny... I'm not a Nyonya kueh expert and this is my first time making ang ku kueh but I'm proud to say that my black sesame ang ku kueh (also known as o ku kueh or 黑龟粿 or 黑芝麻龟糕) are amazingly delicious!!!

Among most of the black sesame ang ku kueh that I have tried or seen, mine seem to be the most ultimately sesame-loaded! Yet, their black-sesame-loaded skins are soft, thin and tender. Their mung bean fillings are not too sweet and optimally filled with black sesame nutty fragrance. Even my fussy husband said that my ang ku kueh "got standard" LOL! So you must believe that they are really good.

As you can judge by its intensive black colour, my kueh are made with A LOT of black sesame! Hence, this means that my kueh tends to be richer than the ones with less black sesame but I made mine with the least oil and sugar. Please allow me to explain and show you how...

  
black sesame ang ku kuih ang ku kueh O ku kueh 黑龟粿 黑芝麻龟糕 less sugar less oil
My Black Sesame Ang Ku Kueh (黑芝麻龟糕)
made with lots of black sesame and minimal oil and sugar

Tip 1: The Sweet Potato Ang Ku Kueh Skin

Prior making these ang ku kueh, I have been researching and learned that the best ang ku kueh skin is usually made with sweet potatoes, not just with glutinous rice flour and water. I believe this theory as I have also great experience using sweet potatoes to make onde onde at HERE and HERE. Hence, I made my ang ku kueh with steamed sweet potatoes mash as well and I confirmed that it is true that the addition of sweet potato makes the best ang ku kueh skin as it helps to hold the ang ku kueh shape very well during steaming. And the texture of the skin turns out to be perfect being soft, tender and chewy. Not tough or rubbery even on the next day!

Tip 2: Gentle Steaming

This tip is extremely important! DO NOT steam your kueh with HIGH heat. A friend told me once that his ang ku kueh were ruined when he steamed the kueh with too high heat. Ruined in term of what? The kueh will expand and become flattened, resulting the imprints on the kueh to be blurred and smeared.

I'm using my electric steamer to steam my kueh as the heating is very gentle and always work well when I used it to steam my Liu Sha Boa at HERE and HERE and delicate kueh such as ang ku kueh.

Tip 3: Skin to Filling Ratio

My ang ku kuehs are made with 2:1 skin to filling ratio and the skins are still good enough being thin and tender.

Some recipes suggest using 1:1 skin to filling ratio so the kueh will have thinner skin but I do realise that the less skin kueh tends to expand more and lose its imprints during steaming. In additional, too much filling can make the kueh rather jelak and also not chewy enough.

Besides, thin kueh skin means that the dough will need to have more oil to make it smoother and easier to handle. So this means that the kueh will be lagi jelak!

Plus, if you are using 1:1 skin to filling ratio to make my ultimately sesame-loaded ang ku kueh, the kueh will be ultra lagi jelak!!! LOL!!!

Note:
jelak in Singlish means to be overly satiated by food to the point you are repulsed by it, particularly food that is too rich 
lagi in Singlish means even more of something
(reference: Wikipedia)

Still prefer to make your kueh with more filling and less kueh skin? No worries. There is actually no right or wrong answer to this. It's all about your preference. 2:1 skin to filling ratio happens to be the preferred choice for me.

Tip 4: Use Black Sesame Paste

I'm lazy! Instead of toasting and grinding black sesame seeds from scratch, I used the store-bought black sesame paste that contains 100% black sesame with no added sugar or salt. And the good thing is I can add A LOT more black sesame into my kueh skin and filling.

I know some of you might ask... Where can you buy this product? I bought mine in an Asian grocery store (near the Japanese products section) in a Melbourne suburb. And I'm sure that this product is available to buy via online such as Amazon and eBay and baking supplies shops in many Asian countries. Can you substitute this ingredient with something else? You can try making the paste from scratch, recipe is at here.

Tip 5: Less Oil

As much as I try to use less oil to make my kueh, the truth is oil is actually a kueh-making person's best friend! 

Worse, my heaps addition of black sesame can make both kueh skin and filling extra crumbly. Without oil, my kueh skin and filling are very difficult to handle but I can use the least amount of oil by brushing and kneading the dough with small amount of oil at a time until the skin is manageable. Likewise, I did the same to filling by adding 2-3 tablespoon of oil gradually into the filling until I can squeeze small portions of the fillings into intact balls.

Tip 6: Less Sugar

The amount of sugar that I added is actually very minimal as you can taste that the kueh is not too sweet. Just right and still very yummy.

Tip 7: Must fry filling to fragrant

Talking about fragrance, I'm a strong believer of frying mung bean filling to fragrant after processing and I would strongly suggest not to skip this step as it will make your less-sugar kueh taste a lot more better.

Tip 8: Do ahead

To save time and effort, I actually steamed the mung beans and sweet potatoes one day before making these kueh. I kept the steamed mung beans and sweet potatoes in a fridge when they are completely cooled and use them accordingly on the next day.

Tip 9: Ang ku kueh are freezable!

Do you know that you can keep cooked ang ku kueh in a freezer? These ang ku kueh keep very well in a fridge and even in a freezer! Simply wrap cooked ang ku kueh in freezer bags, then keep them in a fridge for up to 2 days or in a freezer for up to 3 months. To serve, steam cold kueh for 2-3 mins or frozen kueh for 8-10 minutes or until warm through. And they taste as good as they were freshly made! Still nice, soft and tender ^-^

Tip 10: Add water and oil as we go

Sorry that I can't be absolutely precise with the amount of water and oil added as the humidity, our ang ku kueh shaping skill and different batches of sweet potatoes and mung beans used do affect the amount of water and oil needed. Plus, I prefer not to add a huge amount of oil at a go so that I can add more oil bit by bit only if it is needed.

black sesame ang ku kuih ang ku kueh O ku kueh 黑龟粿 黑芝麻龟糕 less sugar less oil
After steaming...
Gentle steaming and 2:1 skin: filling ratio makes my kuehs look perfect!
black sesame ang ku kuih ang ku kueh O ku kueh 黑龟粿 黑芝麻龟糕 less sugar less oil
And these black-sesame-loaded skins are soft, thin and tender too!
Lagi perfect with these not too sweet and extra-fragrant sesame-mung-bean fillings! 

Here's a video showing how I made my black sesame ang ku kueh.

Although the video is about 3 minutes, I actually took me more than an hour to shape these kuehs! However, practice makes perfect! I was able to make the kueh faster as I was shaping the second half batch of my kuehs. 

And always remember... If you got stuck making these ang ku kueh, oil is your best friend! It's ok to use more oil but try to use it sparingly.

Plus, you can steam the mung beans and sweet potatoes one day before making these kueh - Please see my above tip 8.

Music: Bensound

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Here’s my recipe.

Make about 20-21 standard size ang ku kueh

For the black sesame filling:
80g mung beans, without skin
160g black sesame paste with 49% fat, no sugar and salt added
70g caster sugar - this is the minimal amount, please do not reduce any further
1/2 tsp salt

2-4 tbsp water, add if the bean mixture is too dry to process
2-3 tbsp neutral tasting vegetable oil, add if the filling is too dry and crumbly

For the skin:
about 400g purple sweet potato, with purple or white flesh, peeled and cut into pieces
160g glutinous rice flour
20g caster sugar
80g black sesame paste with 49% fat, no sugar and salt added

2-4 tbsp water, add if the dough is too dry and crumbly

To assemble:
banana leaves, cut into 20-21 pieces that are the same size of your ang ku kueh
3-4 tbsp neutral tasting vegetable oil for brushing and assembly

For the filling:
Place beans in a large bowl or container and fill the bowl or the container with adequate water. Cover the bowl or container with plastic wrap and leave the bean in the fridge to soak overnight.

On the next day, pour off the soaking water. Wash the beans with extra water and drain them thoroughly, then transfer the beans into a heat proof container.

Steam the beans with high heat for 30 mins or until soft. When the beans are cooked, pour the beans into a sieve to drain any excess liquid.

Do ahead: You can steam the beans one day before making the kueh and keep the steamed beans in a fridge until ready to use.

Using a food processor or blender, process the beans and black sesame paste to form a smooth paste. You may add 2-4 tbsp water into the mixture if the mixture is too dry to process.

Transfer into a saucepan. Cook paste using medium low heat with constant stirring until the paste is semi-dry and fragrant, about 15 mins. Add sugar and salt and continue to cook and stir for another 2 mins or until the added sugar has been completely dissolved. Do not over cook the paste at this stage or it will become brown. Set aside to cool completely.

It's ok if the filling is crumbly. Add and stir in 2-3 tbsp neutral tasting vegetable oil, tablespoon by tablespoon at a time until you can squeeze a 15g portion of filling to form an intact ball.

For the black sesame skin:
Steam peeled sweet potatoes with high heat until soft and thoroughly cooked, about 20-40 mins.

Do ahead: You can steam sweet potatoes one day before making the kueh and keep the steamed sweet potatoes in a fridge until ready to use.

Mash sweet potatoes and use only 300g mash.  Add glutinous rice flour, sugar and sesame paste. Mix well to form a soft dough. If the dough is too dry and crumbly, add 2-4 tbsp water, tablespoon by tablespoon at a time until the crumbs can combine well into a dough. It does not have to be soft and pliable at this stage. Wrap dough with cling wrap and allow it to rest for 30 mins at room temperature.

To assemble:
Divide dough and filling into portions, 30g each for skin dough and 15g each for filling (2:1 skin:filling ratio). The portion size of the dough and filling might vary slightly according to the size of the mould that you used. Or if you prefer to make your kueh with thinner skin, please use 1:1. Before you decide to do that, please read my above cooking tips!

Brush each portion of dough with vegetable oil and knead until the dough is smooth and pliable. You might have to knead in more oil if your dough is not pliable and you are struggling! Use a rolling pin to roll dough into a flat disc. Place filling in the middle. Enclose by pinching the edges together. 

Brush ang ku kueh mould with vegetable oil. Place dough into the mould and press evenly, then knock the mould lightly on the bentop to relase the dough.

Brush banana leaf pieces with vegetable oil. Place the shaped dough on a greased banana leaf and trim any excess leaf to form a round shape.

Repeat this shaping step with the remaining portions of dough and filling, plus banana leaf pieces. Please note that there will be about 80g of filling left if you are making the kuehs with 2:1 skin:filling ratio. Besides, it is always good to have slightly excess filling than not enough to fill.

Arrange kueh on a steaming trays. Steam for 10-15 mins with the most gentle heating or until the skin is thoroughly cooked. Allow the freshly steamed kueh to cool to room temperature. Serve and enjoy!

Store leftover in a fridge for 1-2 days. Or wrap cooked kueh in freezer bags, then store in a freezer for up to 3 months. To serve, steam kueh, chilled for 2-3 mins or frozen for 8-10 mins or until soft, tender and warm through.

Happy Steaming
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