Monday, 1 October 2018

Just One Food - Oh Ku Kuih

One of my favourite Nyonya kuihs to eat is this black-looking kuih with salty-sweet choy poh (sweet preserved radish) in it.  I used to call it chai poh kuih because that's the only name I knew due to the filling.

But I've always been fascinated by the blackish skin and what it's made of.  I finally asked the kuih seller one day when I was getting some and she mentioned some type of yip (which means leaves in Cantonese) but I still couldn't understand nor catch the name of the leaf in Cantonese.

When I got home, I tried to google "black kuih made with leaf" and, lo and behold, I came across a video of "Ramie Leaf Dumplings" that looked like the kuih I was looking for.

Upon googling, I came to know that the Hokkiens called it Oh Ku Kuih while the Hakkas call it Choo Yap Ban (I know yap means leaves in Hakka).  For some of us who don't speak Chinese, perhaps calling it Ramie Leaf Glutinous Rice Steamed Kuih would be the best option.

The last time I spotted these Oh Ku Kuih were from a Nyonya kuih stall in Yong Len's coffee shop.

I understand that some Oh Ku Kuih comes with a mung bean or luk tau filling while the traditional Hakka version has savoury-sweet choy poh in it....and that's the version I like.

Making Nyonya kuih (or this Oh Ku Kuih specifically) is a dying art form as lesser and lesser hawkers make and sell them these days.  I can understand why after seeing a video on how this kuih is made.

First, you have to boil the Ramie leaves till soft before pounding or chopping them to a fine paste.  Some would dry the Ramie leaves first before boiling it with water and putting it through a blender.

I've seen colours of the Oh Ku Kuih ranging from dark green to grey to almost black...depending on how the Ramie leaves were treated.  I think the dark green colour resulted from boiling the fresh green leaves.  And drying the leaves first before boiling and then blending probably gives the kuih a more intense colour (like almost black).

Next, you have to add the leaves and/or juice extract to a mixture of rice flour and glutinous rice flour to form a dough.  Then you need to prepare the can be mung beans paste, crushed peanuts or finely minced choy poh filling.

After that, you need to wrap the fillings into the little rounds of dough (some may use an ang ku kuih mould for this) before placing each one on a piece of greased banana leaves.

You also need to brush some oil on the surface before finally putting them to steam.  Now I fully understand why not many people would want to go through this tedious process to make this kuih.  I think I'll just resort to buying them...haha! ;D

Luckily for me (and for the folks living in this taman), we have one such stall right in our neighbourhood selling this kuih (and other Nyonya kuihs).  And that stall is right in front of Fuji Chicken Rice (and they usually set up shop around noon).

I love that sweet-savoury choy poh against the slightly sweet, soft, gooey texture of the glutinous rice skin, made more fragrant when steamed in banana leaves. ^o^  But do expect them to be oily otherwise they'll stick to the banana leaves or your hands and be that much more difficult to handle or eat.

I've been eating this oh ku kuih or chai poh kuih all this while without even knowing that the skin is made from some kind of leaf! ;)


  1. My wife is very fond of this Oh Ku Kueh and we just bought them last night from a good stall outside a coffee shop in Puchong. I have been buying Nyonya Kuehs from Yong Len since early 90s and they didn't even sell Oh Ku Kueh yet. Their Ang Koos were only red ones. In recent years, they have been increasing the variety of kuehs until the Ang Koos have so many colours and yummy different fillings. I must go to Yong Len tomorrow morning to buy this Oh Ku Kueh. Thanks for taking the trouble to find out the fragrant leaf they used.

    1. No trouble at all...I always like to know what I eat. You and your wife must really love this kuih...for wanting to eat it twice in a row! ;)

  2. I don't think I have ever had oh ku kuih but I know I would love it. Any kuih that has that type of texture with sweet savory filling, I like very much. My favorite kuih would be angku kuih. Yes, these type of kuih involves a lot of work. I helped my aunty make angku kuih once and that was it, no more!

    1. Look out for it the next time you're at a Nyonya kuih should be one of the types offered :)

  3. back in malacca, my family used to buy ang koo kueh a few times a month - that's the version i'm more familiar with, usually with vividly red skin and with the mung bean filling that you noted. it still brings back fond memories for me (i remember eating them with my fingers, and the oil sticking to my fingers), and i've always liked the contrast between the chewy skin and the sweet stuffing. i never even knew the choy poh version existed though until long after i left malacca :)

    1. We learn new things all the's never too late..kekeke! ^_~ Now you can have your fill of the choy poh version.

  4. I loveeeeee this kueh, because I love everything with choy poh. I know the colour is from a type of leaf but not sure the name too :P

    1. Well, now you know. I see you love this kueh as evidenced by some many eeeees..hehehe! ^_* I also like the ones with a choy poh filling...just like the chai kueh.


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