Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Grandmother's Soon Kueh Legacy

The last time my late grandmother made soon kueh was 4 years ago. On that occasion, I sat beside her in the kitchen, the two of us shaping and filling the kueh with a quiet and easy rhythm, content and happy at making food for our loved ones.
On Sunday morning, my mum and I tried to recreate that familiar taste of grandmother's famed soon kueh. My mum made in advance the filling of grated turnip, carrot, fresh bamboo shoots, chopped shitake mushrooms, dried shrimps and diced pork, sauteed together for a short time over high heat till fragrant.
The secret of the soon kueh skin had eluded us for the longest time. The best soon kuehs have skins that are translucently thin, but yet retain a slightly chewy texture. My grandmother was not one to measure out ingredients precisely and mixed together different quantities of rice flour, tapioca flour and glutinous rice flour based on her own internal scale. Rather than guess at the mystery mixture, we decided to use a supermarket flour mix specially for soon kueh, added hot water, oil and salt, and kneaded the dough till it was pliable and elastic. We portioned the dough into little round balls, shaped them into thin bowls with our fingers, and packed the bowls full of filling before sealing the edges. Doing this, the tips that my grandmother had imparted flooded back ... knead the dough vigorously to "exercise" it....wait till the dough has cooled before making the kueh, as it will not otherwise not be pliable and will tear. I remembered too, how my grandmother first taught me to make soon kueh as a child and kickstarted my love affair with food and cooking, and how my minature-sized soon kueh got larger over the years as my hands grew bigger....
Almost. These soon kueh tasted almost like how my grandmother used to make them, except that she is no longer hear to see and taste our efforts.

No comments:

Post a Comment