Yam Cake #09

The problem with documenting family recipes is that there isn’t any measurements and whenever you try to confirm the “recipe” you are told off-handly, it annoys people. When those people are much older, they tend to give you different cooking directions, even when you have notes that you wrote that day they would still be in denial and you would be the “crazy” person. At that point, I can tell from first hand experience, that it is best not to argue and be a wise girl and take that as a great opportunity. Sometimes I wonder if other bloggers have the same problem as I do. Do you record recipes from your family members?

This yam cake recipe is the one that I really need I have to nail and after the third times I think we did it. This time the cake turns out to be soft and silky enough to melt in your mouth, but solid enough to cut through. I love the texture of the cake, the base is soft and the top is crunchy with different level of crunchiness. It is particularly interesting when you bite into toasted sesame seeds which seems to pop. This cake is pretty fiery, as you can see, we love our chopped chilies.

I have had people asking me why does their yam cake is almost impossible to cut. I have a little tip for those whose cake is very soft and sticky. Pop the cake in the fridge for fifteen minutes or so before cutting. If you think it is too cold to serve, steam it for a couple of minutes over boiling water.

Steamed yam cake (or ‘or kueh’) is steamed taro cubes in rice flour mixture, with spring onions, Chinese celery, dried shrimp, Chinese BBQ pork, sesame seeds and fried shallots. Different families have different recipes, this is ours. And I totally love it. The mixture is prepared in advance and cook on stove top till thick and poured in greased mould, usually round or square pan. The pan is steamed for a bit till the cake is fully cooked, and condiments are scattered on top of cake and the whole thing is steamed further. Cake is served warm over breakfast or afternoon tea.

I used the cone moulds lined with banana leaves. The condiments are added after the cakes hold their forms. It is a new way of serving yam cake. Quite interesting for me. And people I gave the cones to. They must have thought I am getting weirder by the day.

Prepping for the cake starts the night before.

The ingredient that needs to be prepared the night before is the rice flour.

Soak the flour with 1000 ml water, overnight or minimum of 4 hours.

On the day of cooking, start with the dried shrimps. Dried shrimps need to be cleaned and rid off hard shells. Soak the  shrimps for at least 1 hour and drain the water off.

The yam (or taro) should be medium sizes taros. I love purple taros, but that is hard to come by these days.

Peel and cut taros into cubes.

The toppings are red chilies, chopped chinese celeries, chopped spring onions, sesame seeds and shallot flakes.

To start cooking dried shrimp, pound dried shrimps on mortar and pestle till fine.

Heat some oil and stir fry garlic till fragrant.

Add dried shrimp into the wok and stir fry quickly over medium high heat.

Season with salt and sugar.

Add some soy sauce for extra flavor.

Stir fry the shrimp till it dries out and turns golden brown.

Heat cooking oil in another wok. This oil needs to be the best quality you can buy. Canola oil would be the best choice, since we use a lot of it.

Stir-fry garlic till it fragrant.

Add taro into the hot wok. Season with salt.

Give the soaked rice flour a stir.

When taro cubes browned, it is time to add the flour into the wok.

Pour flour mixture into the wok.

Cook  the mixture over medium high heat.

When it starts to thicken, it is time to turn off the heat. It will continue to thicken over standing.

I lined my pewter mould with banana leaves. Get a sheet of banana leaves and turn on the stove. Slowly hover leaf over fire and heat the leaf till it turns a shade brighter. The banana leaves would be easier to fold and shape, it will not break.

Spoon batter into the cones.

Flatten the batter.

Steam the cake over boiling water.

This is how the traditional yam cake looks like. No cone there. But I was so glad to pull it off.

When the cake cones are cooked, let cool for 30 minutes before un-moulding.

By the time you are ready to decorate the cones, the cone would be rather cold and dry. The condiments won’t stick on the surface, so I re-steamed the cones without banana leaves just to get them soften back. I applied the condiments by pressing them on the surface of the cake.


Steamed Yam Cake, Oh Kueh

Makes 2 20x20 pan


For cake
500 g rice flour, soaked
1000 ml water, for soaking rice flour
1/2 cup cooking oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
750 g taro, cubed
1 tbsp salt

For dried shrimp stir-fry
1/4 cup cooking oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
100 g dried shrimp, washed and pounded
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce

For condiments
30 g red chilies, sliced
50 g Chinese celeries, finely chopped
50 g spring onion, finely chopped
50 g sesame seeds, toasted
50 g shallot flakes


For dried shrimp stir-fry
Stir-fry garlic in a wok until fragrant.
Add dried shrimps and stir-fry for a couple of minutes over medium high heat.
Season dried shrimp with salt, sugar and soy sauce.
Cook for another five minutes or so till golden brown.
Remove from heat and set aside.

For the cake
Heat cooking oil in a wok and stir-fry garlic till fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add taro cubes into the wok and cook till sides browned slightly, over medium high heat.
Add rice flour mixture, stir continuously.
Cook till the batter thickens, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and pour into prepared moulds or any other steam-proof containers.
Steam cake for 30 minutes over high heat, covered.
Add condiments on top of cake, layer by layer, and steam for another 5 minutes.
Let cool and cut into squares.
The cake can be served cool or warm.

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25 Responses to “Yam Cake #09”

  1. 1

    Gertrude — October 9, 2011 @ 2:59 pm

    oh Jun, I wish the Or Kueh can jump out of my laptop. They look so colorful and delicious. It is making me hungry! A classic kueh with a new shape ha ha..

  2. 2

    Jasmine — October 9, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

    Wish.I.Could.Eat.That. That is so good-looking! This competition is pretty fun (for the readers anyway). Everyone is pushing the envelope in finding inventive ways to use the cone.

  3. 3

    Martyna@WholesomeCook — October 9, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

    Oh wow! gorgeous picture! That chilli!!! That would be hot!!!

  4. 4

    terri — October 9, 2011 @ 6:06 pm

    yam kuih is so yummmm! i love your plate too. must be a family heirloom:)

    • Jun replied: — October 9th, 2011 @ 7:02 pm

      How did you know? You are good! It belongs to my grandmother and we picked it up from her house, practically had to fight others for it.

  5. 5

    Yi @ Yi Reservation — October 9, 2011 @ 7:33 pm

    I’ve never made a steamed cake before. There seem to be quite some steps involved but I am sure it’s worth the effort.

    Adding this to my to try list! Thanks for the detailed recipes and great pictures as usual!

  6. 6

    Melinda Lee — October 9, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

    I have the same problem too….I won’t get the exact ingredients content when I asked the elders how to cook a particular dish. They will tell you, just a little bit of this, of that, cook for until they are tender or cook for awhile, that kind of thing. Jun, I loves yam cakes but have yet to try making it. I like all your enamel plates. Brought back a lot of memories back to my hometown/kampung time.

    • Jun replied: — October 9th, 2011 @ 8:37 pm

      The enamel plates are our prep plates. I was kinda wondering when anybody is going to comment about about them, you are the first one! I love them to pieces, very versatile and useful. They can be baked, steam, etc.

  7. 7

    tofugirl — October 9, 2011 @ 8:32 pm

    That is beautiful! I have the same problem when I ask my mom or other family members for recipes–it’s always ‘oh, well, you know you add a bit of this–you know, until it tastes right’…hehe. For some things I try to watch my mom and take photos and taste until I can kind of wing it too.

    Question on your recipe–is it regular rice flour, or glutinous rice flour that you use? I’d love to try to make this!

    • Jun replied: — October 9th, 2011 @ 8:35 pm

      It is regular rice flour :D

  8. 8

    Ellie | Goyrmand Recipes — October 9, 2011 @ 8:35 pm

    This is exactly how I like my yam cake to be, with lots of the yummy condiments sprinkle on top if it and lots of chili sauce. Loving your jelly mould series.

  9. 9

    beetrice — October 9, 2011 @ 9:01 pm

    LOL!! I love yam cake (my mum has even tried it with pumpkin before which is delicious) but your “yam cones” made me burst into laughter….awesome way to serve yam cake!

    PS: damn I’m loving this challenge of yours – whatever will you come up with next??

    • Jun replied: — October 9th, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

      I am losing sleep and tired, to tell you the truth LOL.

  10. 10

    thoma — October 9, 2011 @ 9:09 pm

    another traditional delicacy from you!! wah..great pic again!

    i don ask for these recipes but there are some i want to pinch from my mum in law. she tells me, however, after keeping her trick to herself!!! i been telling her am the only one interested nuff in the family to carry on her legacy…i been baiting her that way ;P

    • Jun replied: — October 9th, 2011 @ 9:50 pm

      Yeah I told that to my ‘stingy’ aunties too. Good food is only as good as the ones who enjoy eating and cooking them. If nobody can cook the dish, then nobody would be able to enjoy, the dish will end up to be a folklore. Oh well, listen to the drama queen in me. LOL

  11. 11

    Ira Rodrigues — October 9, 2011 @ 9:09 pm

    wow, they are really looks so yummy, i love pedas–bookmarked right a way :) your series day by day becoming interesting and of course makes me salivate hihihi.
    keep it up and all the best jun!

  12. 12

    bblossom_ — October 9, 2011 @ 10:29 pm

    I love your yam cakes. This one with lots of chilies is king.

  13. 13

    Ninazsyafinaz — October 10, 2011 @ 12:44 am

    Good Idea!! Yam cake look so delicious

  14. 14

    mycookinghut — October 10, 2011 @ 12:56 am

    Jun, this yam cake looks absolutely delicious!!

  15. 15

    Loong — October 10, 2011 @ 3:16 am

    I tried making yam cake once. It took ages, but the result was not as good as I was expecting. The so-called yam in UK is not really the kind of yam you will find in Asia..

    Your yam cake looks rather beautiful and delicious. I can also smell the fragrance of the dried shrimp in the hot wok…!

  16. 16

    Nate @ House of Annie — October 10, 2011 @ 9:54 pm

    Bravo! *clap clap clap clap clap*

  17. 17

    Judy — November 27, 2011 @ 1:38 am

    Cone yam cakes are pretty strange, for all its wonder! I think traditionally, square or rectangle cone shapes still flutter my appetite. Mostly also cos it’s easier to spoon up a piece with extra loadings of the condiments. Lots of chillies and spring onions with mine, thank you very much! But great step by step photos. I’ve also tried my hand at turnip cake for chinese new year, but only ever made it good once. The steaming part is really tricky for me, or some reason. Perhaps it’s time to try yam!

  18. 18

    Jeannie — January 4, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

    Have a sudden craving for yam cake and giving your recipe a try. Need to check the amount of water for soaking rice flour. Is it 1750ml or 1000 ml ?

    • Jun replied: — January 4th, 2012 @ 10:04 pm

      Hi, I am sorry for the mix up! It is 1000ml.

  19. 19

    Emily — March 9, 2013 @ 7:47 pm

    why do you soak the rice flour overnight? Thanks

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