Sunday, August 31, 2014

Steamed Pumpkin Cake

This savoury dish is a typical Chinese snack usually taken during breakfast or afternoon tea.  I made this over the weekend as I was ordered by the 'home minister' in my house to clear the two pumpkins that had been lying idle in the kitchen for almost three weeks.  

I was cracking my head hard thinking of what to cook the pumpkins with.  Of course, I was trying to be creative (oh, please!) and thinking of something different and pumpkin juice, pumpkin cakes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkins buns, pumpkin breads or even pumpkin ice-cream.   Well, none of them seemed appealing to me.  Not wanting to take the risk, I finally decided to go back to the usual savoury steamed pumpkin cake, a popular breakfast or party snack among the Chinese community.

Well, preparing the dish is surprisingly easy, nothing very complicated.  The ingredients used are rather standard and easily available.  The 3 most basic ingredients are rice flour, water, and of course pumpkin (mashed, grated, or cubed).......that's it!  To make it savoury and flavourful, minced meat (either chicken or pork), mushrooms, chinese sausages, dried shrimps and fried shallots are added.  Then, comes salt and pepper for taste AND spring onions and sliced chilies for garnish.

Now, the most important part is the texture of the cake.  This is where personal preference comes in. Some like it hard and springy AND some like it slightly softer.  It all depends on the water used.  The standard flour-water ratio is 1:3.  For example, for 100g of rice flour, we may need 300g of water.  From here, you work your way up or down.  If you prefer a slightly softer texture, then add a little bit more water (about 50ml) and vice versa. 

The Recipe:
(adapted from Fong's Kitchen, with slight modification)

700g of pumpkin
250g of rice flour
1 tbsp of corn flour (to make the texture smooth)
750ml of water (this amount of water yields a rather soft texture.  I suggest that you reduce to 650ml)

100g of chicken/pork meat
70g of dried prawn (I find it a little too much, maybe should reduce it to 50g)
1 tsp chicken stock, powered form
3 dried mushroom (optional)
1 chinese sausage (optional)

2 tsp of oil
2 cloves garlic

1 tsp Salt
1 tsp pepper

10 shallots
1 red chilli
1 stalk of spring onions

Preparation :
  1. Soak the dried prawns, mushrooms and chinese sausage for half an hour or until they are soft. (As there's flavour in the water, I did not throw it, instead I used it to make up to the 750ml of water required)
  2. Skin and cut the chicken meat into cubes.  You may also mince the meat.
  3. Mince the garlic.
  4. Skin the pumpkin and cut it into small cubes.
  1. Steam pumpkin until soft and fork tender.  Lightly mashed half of it.  Set aside.
  2. Add water and chicken stock to the sifted rice flour and corn flour.  Stir well until flour is completely dissolved.
  3. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a wok over medium heat. Fry garlic and dried prawns until crisp and fragrant.
  4. Add in chicken meat, mushrooms and chinese sausage and stir-fry until it is cooked.
  5. Add in pumpkin and continue stir-frying, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add salt and pepper. 
  7. Pour in the rice flour mixture, and stir it till it turns sticky.
  8. Pour mixture into a 21cm round cake tin and level the surface with a spatula.  (You may drizzle some oil on the spatula to ease leveling the surface)
  9. Steam it over boiling water at medium fire for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  10. Prepare toppings while steaming the cake. Cut shallot into slices and fry it till light brown. Slice the red chillies and spring onions.
  11. Remove the cake from the steamer and sprinkle topping ingredients immediately on the hot cake. 
  12. Wait for the cake to cool down before cutting into slices and serve.
  1. If you want your pumpkin cake to look slightly yellowish, mash the pumpkin a little.  
  2. The cake can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week. Before serving, heat it up in the microwave oven or steamer. Alternatively, it can be cut into rectangle and pan-fry until light brown. The pan-fried crisped pumpkin cake is utterly delicious. 
Updates - 23/4/15
* Made with one whole pumpkin (weighs about 1600g).
* Double up the rice flour to 500g with 1300ml of water.
* The texture of the cake turned out perfect, just the way I wanted it (neither too soft nor too hard)


  1. Thank you very much for the recipe, Yoon. I had 750g cut pumpkin. I tweaked your recipe a little. I reduced the water to 600ml with 260g rice flour and 1/4 tsp alkaline water. The kueh, turned out beautiful.

    1. Hi Jackie!

      Thanks for visiting and using the recipe! Hehe....Glad to hear that the kuih turned out beautiful! One thing, what's the use of alkaline water....emmm....sounds interesting! Mind sharing?