Counting down to the year of the tiger!

First of all, I need to apologise for not blogging for such a long time – I think it’s been 2 weeks now, yikes! Posted the previous post the day I started my week of night calls, and then it was a mad flurry of shopping for gifts to bring home to Malaysia, then the ‘post coming home’ period of pure sloth… But yes. I have neglected my blog for a while, but I will be good over the next few weeks and bring you some hopefully interesting (and festive) posts about Chinese New Year! πŸ™‚ Am very excited about this year as I haven’t celebrated Chinese New Year at home since I first left for UK 7 years ago.

As most of you probably already know, Chinese New Year is centered around two things – family/friends and food. And when I say food, I truly mean food. You may have already come across the various types of cookies found during this season in the blogosphere (e.g. the ever favourite pineapple tarts, groundnut cookies, kuih bangkit). And believe me when I say that this barely scratches the surface of the variety of cookies you can find during Chinese New Year (a future post).

I decided to make these angku kuih when I was still in London as I had a major craving for them. Angku kuih is a traditional Chinese pastry that has always held a special place in my heart. It has a sticky outer skin, which gives way to a yummy green bean or peanut filling when bitten into. The name “angku kuih” translates into “red tortoise cakes” – traditionally, these kuih are made with a special mold, which gives them a beautiful “tortoise shell” pattern and shape (see here for photos of what this looks like). I didn’t have a mold to hand, which is why my angku kuihs are less pretty to look at!

But as I was saying, this pastry is shaped like the shell of a tortoise as the Chinese believed that eating a pastry in the shape of these creatures with such long lives would subsequently lead to longevity. These kuih (pastries) usually make an appearance during special occasions such as religious events (where they are used as an offering to the various gods), birthdays and first month anniversaries of births of babies. You can get them all year round though, as they are a popular snack. And just to mention something rather interesting – for first month anniversaries, angku kuihs for 1 month old boys are oval in shape, whereas the ones for the girls are round. (Having said that, I have friends who said they didn’t know about this, perhaps it’s a Hokkien thing?)

Angku kuih
Tweaked from this recipe on My Kitchen, who adapted it from

For the skin:

  • 250 grams glutinous rice flour (this is easily available in the London Chinatown)
  • 120 mls hot water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 130 grams of sweet potatoes – steamed and mashed (I used 2 medium sized sweet potatoes)
  • few drops of food colouring (optional) – red and orange are the traditional colours, but feel free to use green or even purple

For the filling:

  • 200 grams green mung beans*
  • 2 tbsp of oil (I used canola oil)
  • 150 grams sugar (I used caster sugar)

You will also need:

  • Banana leaves (cut into rounds/squares to fit each kuih, and lightly greased with oil)

1. Prepare the filling first. Place the mung beans, sugar and oil into a blender and whizz it into a fine paste. Leave to cool, then divide into small round balls (~2cm in diameter).
2. Next, mix all the ingredients for the skin in a large bowl until it forms a soft dough. You don’t need a mixer for this, using your hands works best. If you find that the dough is too dry and it crumbles, add more water (a little at a time) until it no longer crumbles.
3. Divide the skin dough into little rounds of ~3cm in diameter. (I played it by ear when it came to this, so please forgive the rather vague instructions here).
4. Flatten a ball of dough, place the ball of filling in it, and wrap it up (it should form a ball). Place this onto a greased banana leaf. Repeat until all the filling and dough balls are used up.
5. Steam the kuih for 8 minutes. I used a bamboo steamer to do this.
6. Remove the kuih from the steamer, and brush with some oil immediately. This helps to prevent the kuih from sticking to one another (and trust me, it is VERY sticky!). Of course, you do run the risk of getting overexcited brushing too much oil onto the kuihs (as I did) – so remember to be less heavy handed than me when doing this…

*Soak the beans overnight, then steam and mash them. It’s best to get skinned mung beans as it gives you a nicer pale yellow coloured filling. I used mung beans with skins still on, which gave me a “dirtier” looking filling – it doesn’t change the taste in any way though!

Here’s wishing you all Gong Xi Fa Cai – may the year of the tiger bring happiness, health and good food to us all! πŸ™‚

37 thoughts on “Counting down to the year of the tiger!”

  1. YUM! I recently developed a love for those with the peanut filling. I must say though, your cute little round red balls are so much prettier than those made from the mould. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you for the kind comment! I have never tried the ones with peanut fillings, but it sounds like something I will really like!

  2. i am constantly AMAZED at the crazy traditional stuff you make. My mum would adopt you in a minute. I haven’t had a proper angku kueh in a VERY LONG TIME and i can just imagine how great yours are.. i’m properly jealous!!

    1. Lol. My mum constantly wonders why I like cooking so much when she’s not a huge fan of it herself. She also tells me I have food on my mind 24/7 – and she’s right of course!

      If I make these again, I’ll have to let you and Davina try some for sure!

  3. Your angku kuih looks really good and I’m going to try this out soon after CNY. Wishing you a great holiday and Gong Xi Fa Cai.

    1. Hi Jo, Gong Xi Fa Cai to you too! I hope you try them, I’ll be interested to see what you think of them. πŸ™‚

  4. I haven’t had this too for a long long time. U are so courageous to make one yourself. I remember my mom making it. Quite a long process. U make me crave for it. I love your round angku kueh. πŸ™‚ They are simply perfect and a pop size too. πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Pam. I think the good thing about my cravings are that they end up in me trying to make things I’d have never thought of making if I was still back home. πŸ˜›

      It actually didn’t take too long to make (probably because I’m using some shortcut way), but it definitely satisfied my craving at the time.

    1. Thanks Zurin, for both the kind comment and the CNY wishes. Hope you’re enjoying the festivities and kuihs as well!

  5. Hey, Su-yin!! Now worries about us! We know you won’t abandon us just like that! LOL!

    Your ang koo kuih looks so adorable!! Great job! It reminds me so much of my days in the States! I craved for ang koo kuih so badly, it’s one of my fave kuih! (I shaped mine in way similar to yours. You can look at mine here

    Gong hey fatt choy! Have a blast this Lunar New Year in Penang! May the Year of the Tiger bring prosperity & good health!

    1. Hmmm tried clicking on the link but it said ‘page not found’. Strange.

      Hope you’ve been having a good CNY too, I only wish I was staying long enough so I could meet you at the end of the month!

    1. They taste a bit like Japanese mochi, if you’ve had those before. I’ll have to give you some if I make them again. πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks! I was so excited when I found banana leaves in Chinatown as I was initially planning to just use baking paper in it’s place. So glad I found the leaves though, as it looks much more authentic. πŸ™‚

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