Chwee Kueh

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Preparation info

  • Makes


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Chinese Heritage Cooking

Chinese Heritage Cooking

By Christopher Tan and Amy Van

Published 2018

  • About

Literally water cake in Teochew, this popular breakfast dish and snack is built on a contrast of soft, almost custard-like rice cake and succulent little bits of savoury preserved radish. Hawkers at different food stalls put their own twist on the topping—some add white sesame seeds, some are very generous with the dark soy sauce, others make it sweeter—so feel free to adjust it to your own taste. A similar Hokkien dish steams a more liquid rice batter in individual serving bowls, so that the result is even softer and more fragile.



  • Preserved salted radish (chai poh) 150 g ( oz)
  • Liquid lard or cooking oil 5 Tbsp
  • Garlic 3 cloves, peeled and minced
  • Water 100 ml ( fl oz)
  • Dark soy sauce 1 tsp
  • Sugar ½ tsp or to taste

Chwee Kueh

  • Rice flour 190 g ( oz)
  • Tapioca starch 20 g ( oz)
  • Cornflour (cornstarch) Tbsp
  • Lukewarm water 300 ml (10 fl oz / ¼ cups)
  • Salt ¾ tsp
  • Boiling water 300 ml (10 fl oz / cups)


  1. Prepare topping. Chop salted radish finely, then briefly rinse and pat dry. Heat lard or oil in a small pot over medium-low heat. When hot, add garlic and stir-fry gently for 1–2 minutes until soft, then add salted radish. Stir-fry for 1 minute, then add water, soy sauce and sugar. Cover and cook for 45–60 minutes over very low heat, stirring occasionally, or until salted radish is soft and fragrant.
  2. Prepare chwee kueh. Sift rice flour, tapioca starch and cornflour together into a mixing bowl. Whisk in lukewarm water and salt until smooth. Gradually whisk in boiling water until smooth. Let batter rest for 1 hour, covered.
  3. Very lightly grease chwee kueh moulds with oil. Get the water in your steamer boiling.
  4. Strain batter through a fine-mesh sieve into a pot. Stir with a whisk over low heat until batter only just starts to thicken. Immediately take pot off the heat and continue to stir for a few seconds; batter should reach the texture of custard. Spoon batter into moulds, levelling the surface and filling the moulds to just below their brims.
  5. Place moulds on the steamer tray, spaced at least 1-cm (½-in) apart. Wrap steamer lid with a clean cloth to absorb condensation, place lid on steamer and steam over medium heat for 13–15 minutes, or until chwee kueh are set and cooked through.
  6. Remove chwee kueh moulds from steamer and let stand for 1 minute. Run a small knife around the inside of each mould and turn chwee kueh out onto a serving plate. Spoon over hot salted radish topping and serve immediately.