When we mention Teochew kueh, we are most likely referring to soon kueh (turnip), gu chai kueh (Chinese chives), and png kueh (glutinous rice). This traditional snack is made with rice flour dough that’s rolled into a thin skin and then stuffed with various savoury fillings.
Originally, soon kueh, which means “bamboo shoot” in Teochew – was made with bamboo shoot. But as Chinese turnip (also known as jicama or yam bean) is cheaper and more readily available, more people started to make soon kueh using Chinese turnip.
As for png kueh, it’s traditionally offered to the gods during festive seasons. To represent longevity, it’s shaped as a peach and the skin is dyed pink for good luck.
Individually handmade, each kueh is the result of a long and tedious process. Here are five of the best-tasting Teochew kueh you can find in Singapore, tried and tested!
Price: soon kueh ($0.90), gu chai kueh ($0.90), png kueh ($1.00)
It’s not easy to please our panel of finicky tasters, but it was hard to pick out any flaws in Ah Yee’s outstanding Teochew kueh!
From the skin to the filling, it’s apparent that much attention has been paid to minute details. Thin, resilient and slightly chewy, the smooth rice flour skin has superb texture and the right skin-to-filling ratio.
Their filling is the most fragrant and flavorful of all the Teochew kueh in this round-up. We could detect the gorgeous aroma of fried shallot and garlic oil in all the different fillings. The stewed turnip filling – enhanced by loads of chopped dried shrimp, carrot, and mushroom – brims with sweetness and umami-ness. Immensely juicy, the vegetables are well-stewed yet retain some bite.
The gu chai kueh – with finely-cut chives and dried shrimp – is juicy, sweet, and savoury all at once. To nitpick, the glutinous rice filling is a tad mushy. But this minor flaw is more than compensated for by its intense fragrance.
Price: soon kueh ($0.90), gu chai kueh ($1.00), png kueh ($1.00), cabbage ($0.90)
Big and hearty, Yong’s Teochew kueh is the most rustic version we’ve come across.
Soft and resilient, their milky-white opaque rice flour skin is also most traditional. Although the skin is slightly thicker, they make up for it with lavish amounts of filling.
The turnip stuffing isn’t as moist as we’d like, but it’s sufficiently tasty. We preferred the glutinous rice filling. The rice grains are separate and al dente, and enhanced with dried shrimp, mushroom, and peanut.
But our surprise favourites are the gu chai kueh and very rarely seen cabbage kueh. Both are immensely sweet, juicy, and full of bite!
Price: soon kueh ($0.70), gu chai kueh ($0.70), png kueh ($0.90), bamboo shoot ($0.90)
While most Hakka-style rice flour skins we’ve sampled tend to be on the mushy side, Poh Cheu’s version trumps their competitors. Smooth, even, and springy, the texture of the translucent dough is truly impressive.
Their excellent rice flour skin is matched with equally well-made fillings. They offer both turnip as well as bamboo shoot. Moist and flavourful, they are mixed with plenty of chopped carrot, black fungus, firm beancurd, and dried shrimp. Same goes for the gu chai kueh, except the chives are a little fibrous. Filled to bursting point, they also offer great value.
The only disappointment was the png kueh, which had glutinous rice that’s far too soft and mushy. It also lacks fragrance and flavour. Skip the png kueh and go for the other varieties.
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