Saturday, June 1, 2013

Tee Nya Kuih - Penang MFF #1

This month's MFF is Penang's turn. One of the most famous spots for good food in Malaysia.

If you ever ask me about Penang food that I can't find out of the state, this will be the first answer from me.

Famous Penang cuisine like Asam Laksa, Prawn Noodle, Char Kway Teow or Nasi Kandar is found all over Malaysia, and in almost every Malaysian restaurant overseas. But not Tee Nya Kuih.

Where did I find this? At Swatow lane. I as having some hawker fare there and I saw 2 mobile stalls selling this green and yellow thing in containers packed with a bag of palm sugar syrup. Being the curious me, I surely will buy one. One stall calls it 甜仔糕(sweet guy kuih), another stall called it 靓仔糕 (handsome guy kuih), but the English word at the stalls are all Tee Nya Kuih. LOL, whatever!

My first bite, it felt soft, and bouncy. Not sticky at all and with a wonderful alkaline aroma. The syrup was to die for! But my fav part was still the bounce, almost like eating  jelly. My hubby who isn't a fan of alkaline dumplings, didn't find this kuih interesting, but it was otherwise for me, I was all ga-ga. It became the must-eat for me whenever I go to Penang and purposely make my husband drive to Swatow lane to get my fix.

I know that the tee nya kuih has an additive used in it.... that is actually a banned substance. It is stated in recipes and my neighbour uses it too for her alkaline kuih. It is commonly found in our food stuff like factory made oily moist noodles in bags, or the alkaline dumplings that doesn't stick to the bamboo leaf or super springy fishballs. If this substance is not put in, the texture of Tee Nya kuih will turn sticky, and it won't give you a clean chew.

The older generation people usually won't  detest to consuming this substance, like they say , "a little bit won't die la!. If not, it won't be nice to eat.". Personally, I will try to avoid using if I can, but I won't say no if I were to be served food laced with it. To those of you who totally detest the use of borax, yes, avoid all those food that I mentioned. How much can you avoid?

Tee nya kuih is traditionally made with rice flour and borax. But I tried making tee nya kuih without borax. I imagined the texture and what type of flours should be used, since plain rice flour will make the whole thing sticky. I added tapioca starch for pliability, the mung bean starch for a clean chew... Although it is still slightly sticky, but I'm satisfied with this result. Not too bad for a borax free version.
And the good news is.. it can be chilled and won't turn floury :)

Warning: Do not eat Tee Nya Kuih on its own. It is yucky! Must be served with the syurp. Then it becomes heavenly.

Tee Nya Kuih (Borax Free)
by WendyinKK 

25gm rice flour
25gm tapioca starch
25gm mung bean starch (green pea flour)
300gm water + 1/4 tsp alkaline water
1 drop yellow food colouring
1 drop green food colouring

1. Mix all the flours together. Add in water and alkaline waterand cook in a small pot until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat.
2. Divide the batter into 2 and mix with the food  colouring.
3. Very lightly oil 2 rice bowls and put the batter in. Level the surface.
4. Steam on medium heat for 20 minutes.
5. Leave to cool down for 4 hours (best 8 hours) at room temperature before serving. (gives a cleaner cut with  long resting time)
6. Cut into cubes with a plastic knife and serve with palm sugar coconut cream syrup.

 I am submitting this to Malaysian Food Fest Penang Month 


  1. What a cute name for kuih! And they look so tempting and delicious, Wendy.

  2. Will the taste be like alkaline dumping but in flour form?

  3. Malacca Nyonya's version is white in colour and we have it with pongteh.

  4. Angie,

    Not really. The real version from Penang (with borax) taste almost like an alkaline jelly kuih.

    Yeah, I had that before in Klang together with pork stew

  5. My all time fav desert fm Penang but quite difficult to get the real authentic good ones i used to have when i was a kid. Cool, smooth and sweet desert down my throat on a hot hot day

  6. I always make this for my mom. I simply love this.;)

  7. Wendy, I like bouncy kueh also. If I go to Penang, I must go look for this kueh. I know I like!

  8. OOO.. i love this too! It's not easy to find and most of the time, those found is not nice. My great grandma used to make this every weekend and we eat it with tau yew bak. However, I like them fried. Pan fry them and yes, the oil will splatter all over the place but once it's done, the skin is mighty crispy and the inside is smooth and soft.. Heaven!! Best with home made chili sauce.

  9. I have made a modification to your recipe, I use more tapioca flour. I layer the baking tin with slightly oiled bamboo leaves. The kueh comes out bouncy and not sticky. It's great, you can have a try.

    My modified recipe is:

    115g tapioca flour
    35g rice flour
    15g green pea flour
    600g water (or pandan juice for green color)
    1/2 tsp alkaline water

  10. Oon HS,
    Thanks, will try it next time when craving hits me

  11. Hi, is tapioca flour same as tapioca starch? I realised the original recipe use tapioca starch and the suggested one by Oon HS uses tapioca flour.


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