Kuehs are common snacks of the Hokkien, Teochew and Peranakan cuisine. The terminology is actually a general description for bite-size nibbles. We realised that majority of foreigners and even generation Y Singaporeans are largely confused by what kuehs actually are and the different types of kuehs available.
These traditional delights come in many different forms and are either sweet or savoury. It could be a biscuit, cake, pudding or other rice-based treats. Preparations of kuehs are not confined to a single recipe due to its various Asian origins. Furthermore, most were actually created based on rough approximation.
If you are still confused, read our Beginner’s Guide to Kuehs and do make time to sample these lovely heritage desserts!
#1 ANG KU KUEH
Ang Ku Kueh is a soft Chinese pastry with sweet mung bean and peanut filling. The soft red skin that wraps the dessert is made with sweet potato and rice flour. The taste and texture of Ang Ku Kueh are very similar to that of Japanese mochi. When directly translated, Ang Ku Kueh actually means Red Tortoise Cake. The Hokkien name was given to the round shaped dessert due to its uncanny resemblance to a tortoise shell.
#2 CHWEE KUEH
Chwee Kuehs aka Water Rice Cakes are actually mini bowl-shaped steamed rice cakes topped with crunchy salted turnips. These savoury snacks are often consumed as breakfast in Singapore and are best served with chilli.
#3 KUEH TALAM
Kueh Talam is a classic Nyonya dessert. When translated, it means Coconut Tray Cake. Characterized by a rectangular block of green and white, this layered cake pudding is made with two key ingredients – pandan and coconut.
#4 KUIK TAKO
Kuik Tako aka Water Chestnut Dessert is a popular coconut-base dessert. It is a white square-shaped jelly wrapped with pandan leaves. The dessert itself is filled with diced water chestnuts and is best served cold.
#5 LAPIS SAGU
Lapis Sagu is a sweet 9-layer rainbow coloured kueh. Made with a mixture of different flour, coconut milk and sugar, the rainbow kueh is soft and chewy. The most intriguing part of this dessert is that you can peel off each layer!
#6 PNG KUEH
Png Kuehs are Teochew savoury glutinous rice cakes. These dumplings are available in different hues of pink and can be either steamed or pan-fried. Its fillings include a variety of ingredients such as peanuts, mushrooms and shrimps. For maximum satisfaction, eat it with sweet dark soy sauce and sambal chilli.
#7 ONDEH ONDEH
Ondeh Ondeh are green glutinous rice balls made with palm sugar and coated with freshly grated coconut. These sweet mini balls are extremely chewy as it is made with mainly glutinous rice flour.
#8 SOON KUEH
Soon Kueh is yet another classic Teochew dish. These delicate near-translucent dumplings are filled with dried prawns, minced pork and a myriad of shredded vegetables. Method of serving is similar to Png Kueh, where they are best eaten with soy sauce and chilli sauce.
#9 TUTU KUEH
Tutu Kuehs are mini steamed white rice cakes filled with either grated coconut or roasted peanuts. These traditional Singaporean desserts are served on a fragrant piece of pandan leaf and are nostalgic snacks for the older generation.
About the writer:
Hui Jun Ng is a staff writer for ladyironchef. She previously worked in the food and marketing industry. She loves traveling and enjoys exploring underrated destinations. In her free time, you will find her indulging in coffee and her all time favourite local dish – bak chor mee.
Illustrations for ladyironchef by Anna.