Short Recipe: Chwee Kueh (水粿)


Chwee Kueh are little steamed cakes made from rice flour and water, topped with savoury preserved turnip and a dollop of sambal chilli. They’re steamed in small bowl-like metal containers and form a small “dimple” or well of water in the middle when done (because they’re so soft and moist)! It’s a really popular breakfast item and snack. Fortunately they are also one of the easiest Singaporean/Malaysian delights to make at home because they require so few ingredients that should be readily available at oriental supermarkets. It’s really a godsend to overseas students like us, because it’s one of the easiest ways to cure homesickness!


Ingredients for Chwee Kueh: Serves 5-6

Chwee Kueh Rice Cake
200g Rice Flour
40g Corn Starch
250ml Water, room temperature
1000ml Water, boiling hot
1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
Salt, a dash

Preserved Turnip Topping
Short Recipe: Fried Preserved Turnip, Chai Poh (菜脯)
1 tablespoon Kecap Manis^ (sweet black sauce)
1 tablespoon sugar*
1 teaspoon light soya sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Salt, a dash*
White pepper, a dash

^ Personal preference, feel free to omit
*I like my chai poh to be on the sweeter side so there’s more sugar than salt, and also because I think the preserved turnip is already salty enough on its own. Feel free to adjust accordingly!


For the steamed rice cakes
1. Combine rice flour, corn starch, vegetable oil, salt and room-temperature water in a large bowl.

2. Bring the 1000ml of water to boil in a small saucepan or pot. The water left will naturally be less due to evaporation but don’t worry about the proportions, it’s meant to be approximate!

3. Slowly mix the boiling water into the rice flour mixture, stirring in gradually – You don’t want uneven cooking or lumps of uncooked flour! You should get a thick glue-like mixture.

4. Grease your chwee kueh moulds lightly with vegetable oil for easy removal later. If you don’t have the moulds, feel free to use your ramekins or silicon cupcake holders (like I did, please forgive me). Grease them too. Pour the mixture into the moulds till they’re 3/4 full.

5. Steam at high heat for 15-20 minutes. Cool for at least 30minutes until they have firmed up. It’s easy to succumb to your inner greed and dig into them immediately after steaming but they might be too wet and sticky to be delicious! The perfect rice cakes should be light, moist and melt-in-the-mouth.

For the preserved tunip topping
1. Follow the steps as in Short Recipe: Fried Preserved Turnip, Chai Poh (菜脯)

2. Add in the rest of the condiments and fry for another good 10-15 minutes until fragrant.


Photos below are taken using my iPhone 4 (sorry for the not so good quality shots)



Earlier I mentioned that I didn’t have any chwee kueh moulds. Purists might shudder at the rate I’m replacing all these moulds for silicon cupcake holders, but forgive me, I tried going around the oriental markets to look for these moulds in Bristol but they are not easy to come by (in fact I have not come by any). Although this means that the chwee kueh would not have the distinctive “dimple” of water in the middle, the taste wouldn’t be compromised!


I also mentioned that I preferred my chwee kueh to be on the sweeter side (hence Bedok chwee kueh > Tiong Bahru’s muahaha) so the addition of kecap manis was great for me. Some recipes on the internet suggest putting dried shrimp (hae bee) into the chai poh as well, although I’m not very sure as to whether I’d eaten chai poh toppings with the dried shrimp. To each his own I guess!


A little plating fun with the humble Chwee Kueh! Enjoy! :)

Posted by #phangchewfat

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2 thoughts on “Short Recipe: Chwee Kueh (水粿)

  1. Hi… is it possible I can use your picture? Thank you !

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