Chai Tow Kueh/ Singapore Fried Diakon Cake

This Singapore street food is a popular breakfast that goes way back when I was a little kid in the 70’s. We would buy this for 50 cents per pack for each person from the hawker center near our house on weekends and bring it home for breakfast. It comes wrapped in brown waxed paper with a few tooth picks enclosed. They are traditionally eaten using toothpicks when you buy them to go. We used chopsticks so it doesn’t take forever to eat them.

Sometimes, we would have the luxury of my mom’s homemade Chai Tao Kueh. This is method is according to how my late mom used to make it. It took many attempts before I was able to come up with specific portions for the ingredients without making the Chai Tao Kueh/ diakon cake based on estimated portions that was the traditional way that moms and grandmas made this sort of cake. My mom is teochew and Chai Tao Kueh and Glutinous Rice are breakfasts which she often made for us growing up.

Step 1:

You need a 9 1/2 inch Pyrex pie plate

Ingredients:

2 to 2 1/2 inch in diameter and 3 1/2 inch long Diakon, (1 whole long diakon can typically be used to make three diakon cakes when divided into thirds using three separate pie plates)

1/2 pound or 1/2 a packet of 1 pound Rice Four

1/4 cup of Sweet Potato Starch

1/4 teaspoon of Mediterranean Sea Salt

2 1/2 – 3 1/2 cups of Boiling Water (The amount of water is based on estimation as the portion of grated diakon and amount of juice from the diakon could be different every time you make it based on the size and length of the diakon)

Method:

Grate the diakon onto the Pyrex dish, retain the juice.

Spread the diakon evenly over the base of the plate. Add salt and sweet potato starch all over the top of the diakon. Then add the rice flour all over the top of the diakon. Even out the flour on top of the diakon without moving the diakon below. Add 2 cups of boiling water all over the top of the flour and diakon. Do not stir but use a pair of bamboo chopsticks to loosen up the flour over the diakon and dissolved some of the flour into the water without stirring up all the diakon. There isn’t sufficient water at this point to dissolve the flour yet. Add 1/2 cup more of boiling water at a time (but no more than 1 1/2 cups more of boiling water) all over the top and gently mix the water into the flour and diakon until the flour has completely dissolved into the boiling water and the diakon can be swirled around with the chopsticks. The liquid should be a watery consistency and the water level should not exceed more than 1/4 inch below the rim of the plate after the flour has completely dissolved into the water.The diakon should be spread evenly throughout the plate so that it remains that way after steaming and being set.

Bring the water in the steamer to a boil. Make sure you have enough hot water in the steamer to last one hour. Place the pie plate with the diakon mixture in the steamer. Cover and steam for 1 hour on high heat without lifting the lid.

Do not lift the lid of the steamer until cake is steamed unless the steamer runs out of water, in which case, add more boiling water to the steamer, not the cake.

After 1 hour, the cake should be gummy in texture. It is not set at this point.

Leave the cake in the pie plate, cover the pie plate with aluminum foil and put the cake in the fridge overnight. After the cake has cooled down in the fridge overnight, it should be possible to cut the cake into chunky pieces for stir frying.

Step 2: Frying the Diakon cake with dark sauce (Kecap Manis), i.e. Black Chai Tow Kueh:

Ingredients:

Diakon Cake

Peanut/ Canola oil

Kecap Manis or Thick Sweet Soy Sauce

2 beaten eggs

3 – 4 stalks of Cilantro, chopped

2 – 3 tablespoons of Minced salted turnip

Method:

Cut up cake into small chunks, cut enough for what you need to serve and you can use the rest of the cake later.

In a frying pan, heat up enough oil to cover a non stick frying pan.

Fry salted turnip for 1-2 minutes.

Put cake in frying pan and add a few shakes of Kecap Manis.

Stir in Kecap Manis well, then add two beaten eggs as diakon cake starts to brown. Stir-fry everything until the eggs are cooked.

Add chopped cilantro and mix in well.

or Step 3: Frying the diakon cake without dark sauce (Kecap Manis), White Chai Tow Kueh:

Ingredients:

Diakon Cake

Peanut/ Canola oil

2 – 3 tablespoons of Minced salted turnip

2 – 3 beaten eggs

3 – 4 stalks of Cilantro, chopped

Alternative Method:

Cut up cake into chunks about 1 inch square, cut enough for what you need to serve and you can use the rest of the cake later.

In a frying pan, heat up enough oil to cover a non stick frying pan. Fry the diakon cake until slightly brown then add salted turnip and fry until the diakon cake is golden brown and the salted turnip is slightly crispy. Add the beaten eggs and fry the diakon cake until the eggs are cooked and golden brown.

Copyright 2012 From the Kitchen of Eloise

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