Yi buah is a kueh that not many Singaporeans know about, hardly a surprising fact given that the Hainanese community is a small one in Singapore. It is to the Hainanese what ang ku kuehs are to the Teochews – it appears on the table in Hainanese households on the first month of newborns, birthdays and other festive occasions. I had my first yi buah a year ago, but the skin was rather thick and not as soft as the more popular ang ku kueh. I decided to try making it at home to see how it compares and I must say that having a freshly-made homemade kueh tastes worlds apart from a shopbought one. What makes this kueh special from other kuehs in Singapore is the use of ginger, toasted sesame and peanuts in the filling. Some kueh makers even use dried mandarin and candied winter melon in the filling! What I really was aiming for was a thin skin – the mark of a good yi buah. Skin so thin that you can see the brown filling peeking through the translucent skin upon steaming. Very happy with my result! It was a rainy day today and having a warm yi buah straight from the steamer and enjoying its warm spicy filling within was such a treat!
For the dough:
10g rice flour
100g + 150g water
1 + 1 tablespoons oil
250g glutinous rice flour
1. Place the rice flour, 100g water and 1 tablespoon oil in a pot and cook until it thickens.
2. Mix with the glutinous rice flour while it is hot.
3. Add 150g water gradually until a smooth dough forms.
4. Knead in the last tablespoon of oil.
5. Allow to rest covered while you prepare the filling.
For the filling:
125g gula melaka
3 pandan leaves
2 tablespoons grated ginger (with its juice)
¼ teaspoon salt
200g grated coconut
40g sesame seeds, toasted
50g peanuts, toasted, coarsely ground
1. Combine the gula melaka with water and pandan leaves in a wok.
2. Heat gently until the gula melaka melts and the pandan leaves have infused their flavour into the water. Remove the pandan leaves.
3. Add the grated ginger, salt and coconut. Cook until all excess liquid has evaporated.
4. Add the sesame seeds and peanuts and fry for another minute.
16 small strips of pandan
16 banana leaf strips (2”x8”), blanched, wiped and greased lightly
Red food colouring (or beetroot juice mixed with oil and a little flour)
1. To assemble the yi buah, divide the dough into 40g balls and fill each with a generous amount of filling. Seal and place pretty/ smooth side down on a work surface.
2. Top the yi buah with a strip of pandan.
3. Wrap the banana strip around the yi buah and push down the excess leaves on the top to cover the dough. Turn the yi buah the right side up and place on a plate.
4. Steam on medium low heat for 10 minutes. 5. Dip the end of a chopstick in the red food colouring and dot each yi buah