Teochew Peach-shaped Kueh
Also commonly referred to as “p’ng (rice) kueh” or “Teochew red kueh”, the Teochew Peach-shaped Kueh is traditionally known as “???”, pronounced as “ung toh kway” in Teochew (a dialect of Chinese) which means “red peach snack/cake/pudding/dumpling”. Essentially, this Teochew delicacy is shaped like a peach, features a pink coloured sticky but tender skin that is stuffed with the most fragrant glutinous rice.
I’ve eaten this kueh since childhood, but it was only last Saturday that my mum handed down the recipe to me. We spent all day in the kitchen talking about her perfection of the recipe over the years as we pumped out 40 beautiful pieces.
In our household, we’ve always eaten this during the Chinese New Year celebrations because the peach is regarded in Chinese lore as a symbol of longevity.
Preparation time: 1-2 hours
Cooking time: 8 minutes
Makes approximately 20 pieces
500 g glutinous rice
500 g Erawan brand rice flour
1/2 cup (60 g) tapioca flour
750 ml (3 cups) hot water mixed with 1/2 teaspoon red or pink food colouring
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
300 g pork rashers, diced
4 shiitake mushrooms (if using dried variety, rehydrate), diced
3 lup cheong, diced
25 g dried shrimp
5 spring onion stems, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sesame oil
4 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
*Kueh moulds can be purchased in Asian kitchenware shops. They are also available at the large grocery stores in Cabramatta. Jennifer found antique ones at the Art Gallery of NSW when they had The First Emperor exhibition.
Pay special attention to your quantities of flour and water as well as steaming time. Imbalances of the flour in the dough can cause the skin to be tough and rubbery and steaming it for too long may cause it to fall apart. But when you do get it right, the Teochew peach-shaped kueh is pure comfort food.
1) Put the glutinous rice in a large pot filled with cold water and soak overnight.
2) The next day, steam the glutinous rice for 20 minutes in a pot, stirring half way through. Keep it covered and warm until you need it.
3) While the rice is steaming, combine the rice flour and tapioca flour in a large mixing bowl. With a wooden spoon, gradually stir in the hot water until it feels like play dough.
4) While still hot, knead the mixture with your hands until smooth, adding the tiniest amount of rice flour if it’s too sticky, or drops of hot water if it is too dry. Place the dough in a plastic bag to ensure it doesn’t dry out while you work on the filling. It is crucial you set the dough aside to rest after kneading. Allow 30 minutes to one hour which is generally enough time to prepare the glutinous rice.
5) Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a wok or pan and fry the pork, mushrooms, lup cheong and dried shrimps over medium-high heat until fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients (spring onions and seasoning) and steamed glutinous rice and fry until mixed well.
6) Divide dough into 20 small portions. Flatten with a rolling pin and place in the kueh mould. Add spoonfuls of the filling then fold in the edges, sealing the top of the mould and removing any excess dough as you go. Knock out the kueh from the mould and place on a lined steamer tray. Continue until you have enough to fill the tray. You will need to work in batches.
7) Steam for 8 minutes and lightly brush with vegetable oil.
Serve steamed or pan-fried.
Once cooled, the steamed kueh can be stored in the fridge or freezer.
I’ve also observed that there are a few different sauces which the Teochew peach-shaped kueh is commonly eaten with – a black coloured zesty sauce of vinegar, soy sauce and chilli; a sweet dark soy sauce, or a Vietnamese nuoc cham sauce of fish sauce, lemon juice, garlic, vinegar and chilli. My theory is that the latter was developed as tastes changed when some Teochew families (like my grandparents on both my mum’s and dad’s side) left their homeland for Vietnam. I quite enjoy all of these sauce versions but more importantly, I am glad I have ten of these steamed Teochew peach-shaped kueh left, safely stored in the freezer for when I crave a taste of my heritage.