There are many different types of kuih muih, but which are the top rated and most favored by Malaysians? Learn in this guide.
From the smorgasbord, a form of Smørrebrød, to tapas, the Western world and beyond have known about great finger foods for a millennium.
There’s one, though, that most people have never heard of, called “kuih muih.” There are hundreds of types of this wonderful finger food, but some would say the traditional kuih muihs are the best.
Exploding onto the world scene, South East Asia’s best-kept dessert secret will knock your socks off, lah? With thousands of different flavor combinations and shapes, how will you know which Kuih muih is the best to try?
From the best local Kuih to the best types of kuih muih in Malaysia and Singapore, you’ll even have the desire to get sample kuih muih recipes to try from home.
Ready to try this sedap (delicious) gooey goodness for yourself? Keep reading to see how!
1. Nona Manis: The Sweet Lady Cake
The first thing to learn about kuih is that it is often translated as a cake, cookie, biscuit, pastry, dumpling, or even a pudding. It’s not really any of these and yet it’s at the same time all of them.
Take, for example, the traditional and colorful Nona Manis cake. It’s a tightly packed, soft steamed pudding. To make it, you’ll need pandan leaf flavoring, glutinous rice, and thick coconut milk. The glutinous rice and pandan flavoring make a kind of cylindrical cup to surround the delicious coconut pudding filling.
Pandan is also called the “screw pine.” It is a tropical plant with a very aromatic scent. You can find pandan leaves in your favorite Asian grocery or import food shop.
Once you’ve got it, put some water on to boil. Gather the leaves together and tie them into a knot. Use less or more of the leaves if you want to change the strength of the pandan water.
Trust us — in this case, less is not more. Pandan is delicious.
Drop the knot in your boiling water, let it boil for about five minutes, then reduce it to a simmer. Cover the pot and let it simmer until the leaves are soft and the water has turned a bit green. The “greenness” of the water will depend on how many leaves you use.
Now you’ll have the secret weapon of South East Asia on your side!
2. Koleh Kacang Tahi Minyak
A cake with green bean flour? Have we totally lost our minds?
Not at all! Koleh Kacang Taik Minyak is a bit of a mouthful (figuratively and literally), but one bite of this humble-looking cake will leave you drooling for more. It’s super easy to make, too, since you’ll only need five basic ingredients.
This tasty cake starts with concentrated coconut milk, cooked down until it’s nice and oily. Stir in granulated sugar, brown sugar, coconut milk, and that green bean flour (AKA mung bean flour or green pea flour) mentioned at the outset.
Combine everything, stir over slow heat, and wait for it to do its magic. Once it’s thick, pour it into a pan, wait for it to cool, slice into squares, and enjoy.
It doesn’t exactly count as “eating your vegetables” for the day, but we won’t tell if you won’t!
3. Feather Caterpillar Cake aka Kuih Ulat Bulu
Don’t worry — no birds or caterpillars are harmed in the making of this cake. It gets its name from the fact that it looks like tiny fuzzy caterpillars (although don’t worry, it tastes much better).
To make these little cakes, combine regular glutinous flour and black glutinous flour. Mix in some water and a bit of lime juice, then knead into long, thin strips of dough (think caterpillars).
Boil the dough until it rises, then pull it out with a strainer and line up your cakes on a serving dish. Now it’s time for the “feather” part by rolling the dough in tasty grated coconut.
Boiled dough plus coconut — can we say “yum?” Sometimes you really can have your cake and eat it too!
4. Keria Ubi Keledek
No list of the best kuih muih would be complete without at least one recipe that includes sweet potatoes. Our pick is the delightful Keria Ubi Keledek, another easy-to-make but oh-so-tasty Malaysian delight.
Boil and mash your sweet potatoes with a little bit of salt before mixing them into a mixture of rice and wheat flour. Let the dough stand for half an hour before you shape it into little doughnut-shaped cakes.
Pan-fry the cakes over medium heat, then roll them in sugar until the sugar caramelizes and becomes hard. Be sure to make enough of these for everyone, because you won’t want to share your helping!
5. Sago Gula Melaka
We’re not sure if this dish originated in the seaside town of Malacca or if they’re just trying to take credit for it. Either way, we’re glad someone had the good sense to combine these simple ingredients into one amazing dish.
Sago gula melaka contains three easy ingredients: sago pearls (the starchy part of the palm tree, similar to tapioca), palm sugar, and chilled coconut milk. Simply combine the ingredients in your favorite little dish to form the most amazing “pudding” you’ll ever taste.
Seriously, you’ll never be able to go back to storebought pudding again!
The Best Local Kuih Muih: Your Kitchen
If you’d never heard of Kuih Muih until you read this article, now you know what you’ve been missing.
Malaysians and Singaporeans have elevated dessert to a whole new level with these incredible sweet treats. And don’t forget the fact that this list is just a small sampling of the best types of kuih muih!
To try the best local kuih muih, travel to South East Asia and snack on these treats ’til your belly is ready to burst. In the meantime, you’ll have to be content with looking up kuih muih recipes and trying your hand at making them yourself.
Do you have a serious sweet tooth? Are you ready to try some of these amazing recipes at home? Click here to make sure your home pantry is fully stocked to make the best kuih muih (and all your other favorite desserts)!