My delicious plate of kueh kak.
You can buy yellow noodles, bihun or kuey teow from any supermarket or wet market, no problem. But where do you go to buy those square rice/radish cakes used to make kueh kak? No where. Well, no where I know, at least. So, if you want to make the dish, you actually have to start from scratch and make the radish cake first which is what I did.
Turned out, it wasn’t as complicated as I thought it would be . I googled for the recipe and found two among many which I liked. I combined elements of both to come up with this one.
It took two attempts before I found the perfect mix. In my first try , I decided to leave out borax (air abu) because I didn’t have it at home and I didn’t know where to get it. The resul? A slightly soggy radish cake that tasted great but got kinda mushy when I stir fried the kueh kak.
My second attempt, I added the borax and boy, what a difference the 1/8th of a tsp of borax makes. The radish cake came out firmer and springy and a lot lighter (colour and texture) too.
Without Borax (left) and with Borax (right)
Though there is some amount of prep necessary, its worth the effort because making something from scratch makes you feel like a real cook.
Step one: Making radish cakes
You will need 2 rice bowls of rice flour (I used one cup organic brown rice flour and one cup plain rice flour); 4 tbsp tapioca flour, 1 medium to large white radish — grate finely and squeeze out all liquid; 1 tbsp sugar; 1 tsp salt; 1 tbsp light soy sauce; 1 tbsp sesame oil; 1/2 tsp pepper; 1/4 tsp borax and 1/4 tsp bicarb soda; 4 rice bowls water.
Mix all ingredients till you get a smooth batter. Heat on stove over medium heat till mix starts to thicken … not more than 5 mins. Transfer into circular baking pan and steam for about 90 mins or till set. Remove from heat and let cool. Chill for a few hours before cutting into squares.
Radish cake -- steamed to perfection for 90 mins
Step 2: Fry radish squares
Once you cut the radish caked into squares, shallow fry them till they turn golden all over. Removed from oil.
Fry em before ... frying em again?
You are now ready to make your kueh kak.
This is really all you need. Simple is best
Step 3: Kueh Kak
Get your ingredients ready: chopped preserved turnip (.5 tbsp), minced garlic (2 tsp), 2 eggs, 2 handfuls bean sprouts, spring onions.
Put about 2 tbsp oil in wok. When hot, add turnip and garlic. Once fragrant, break in the eggs. Add a dash of light soy sauce into the eggs and mix them up a little in the wok and before they set. Add the fried radish cakes. Toss em about and add some seasoning to taste: vegetarian oyster sauce, light soy sauce, white pepper and a little bit of salt (just a little if at all cos the turnip and the sauces are already pretty salty).
Add the bean sprouts (be generous) and spring onions and after a couple of minutes (toss them around), your kueh kak is ready. Remove from the fire and serve.
Hot hot flame, toss em around.