This simple snack, famously known as hunkwe pisang or kue pisang is made of mung bean starch. It is a popular market snack in the country, where normally a spoonful of batter is placed in the middle of one sheet of banana leaves and a slice of banana is placed on top of it before folding the leaves into a small packet. The starch gives it a unique bouncy texture and always serve cold. It is the perfect afternoon snack for hot days.
It has also been a while I have wanted to try making this. I think mother tried to show me how but both times ended disastrously. First time I burnt myself and the second time I burnt the batter. It seems to be one of the easiest snacks (or kue, as we call it in Indonesian). Everybody seems to have no problem with it. Mother suggested I made this as part of the Royal Selangor challenge, and I wasn’t very optimistic. I will let you decide.
The banana hunkwe I made used up about 10x more batter. The individual serving is usually only one bite, or two at most. This one, you will have to use a fork and knife to finish it up. But it is a good experience. I feel more confident in trying to shape it the traditional way. My brother is a big fan. I am still waiting for him to finish up the two cones.
Have you ever eaten our local kue (or kuih in Malaysian)? Which one is your favorite?
The main ingredients of banana hunkwe is the hunkwe flour itself (also go by the name of mung bean starch or hoon kway). Cap Boenga is the most common and famous brand out there in the country. There are some other brands, of course, but many old timers believe they are just not the same. And my mother, she is a stubborn one. She would rather not making (hence, not eating) if she can’t find this particular brand.
One block is 120 g of flour. One batch recipe calls for 120 g. So use the whole block.
The other ingredients are coconut milk, sugar and salt.
Plantain banana is the most commonly used. Normally we would steam them for 15 minutes, peel the skin off and slice diagonally and thinly to be used with the cake, but the color of steamed banana is a bit off. So I decided not steaming and cut them into round slices.
Before starting cooking, it is very important to prepare the banana leaves, because once the batter is ready, it needs to be poured immediately and you would have no time to mess around with anything else but spooning batter. Bought from the market, the leaves needs to be wiped thoroughly with damp cloth. Do this as many times as you can, until you are convinced they are clean. Turn on the stove and slowly
Line the mould with banana leaves. What I did was that I wrapped the banana leaves on top of the mould and place a tape on the leaves to keep it in place. Then I slide the mould off and insert the cone-shaped banana leaves inside the mould. Pretty easy that way.
I was using fresh coconut milk, so I strained the mixture into a saucepan.
Add hunkwe flour into the pan as well.
And sugar and salt.
Give it a quick stir for a couple of minutes, until no more lumps visible.
Turn on the stove and start cooking batter over high heat, stirring continuously. Use a flat spatula so you can scrape the sides of the pan. If you don’t, the sides will be burnt and well, that’s what happened to me before.
After a couple of minutes, the flour will start coagulated and don’t panic. It is supposed to do that. Keep on stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan.
After a few seconds, the batter will resemble some sort of nasty glue. Keep stirring even harder. Then it hit us. It is silly to use a rectangular pan!
We quickly transfer it to a round and thick pan and continue cooking for a minute. The batter smoothed out and all is well again.
After one minute, the batter starts to boil slightly. It is ready. The batter will have a rather thick consistency, but still pourable.
Quickly arrange the banana slices on the side of the cone and use a spoon to drop batter into the cone. Fill it to the rim.
Move on to the next cone.
Fill the batter to the rim. Work very quickly as it cools down very fast. If it cools down and thickens, it would be impossible to use and you will have to cook it again by adding some more liquid, either coconut milk or water.
I cut the excess leaves and place a round shaped banana leaves to cover the top of the cake. Leave on kitchen counter until it cools down, and transfer to the fridge, let set for a couple of hours before serving.
I have to admit that this is not my most favorite dish to make, but it is one of the most delicious.
Banana Hunkwe, Kue Pisang
120 g hunkwe flour, or mung bean starch / hoon kway flour
240 g sugar
840 cc diluted coconut milk, use 3 parts coconut milk and 1 part water
1/2 tsp salt
2 plantain, sliced thinly, steamed (optional)
Prepare mould and line with banana leaves. Place banana slices on the sides of the leaves.
Combine all ingredients in a thick bottom saucepan.
Stir for a couple minutes to get all the mixture together.
Cook over high heat, stirring continuously, till thickened, about 3 minutes.
Bring it to a slight boil, about 1 more minutes. The mixture should be thick, but still quite runny.
Pour mixture into prepared containers.
Let cool before transferring to the fridge.