Soon kueh is a Teochew steamed dumpling, also known as ‘cai kueh’. In Singapore, we typically eat it for breakfast or as a snack any other times of the day, with chilli sauce and sweet black sauce. Traditionally soon kueh is made with bamboo shoots, thus the name ‘soon kueh’ as the ‘soon’ in Hokkien refers to bamboo shoots. However the soon kueh found in markets and food stalls are made mainly with jicama, or turnip, or ‘bangkwang’, because turnip is much cheaper and much more easily accessible in Singapore.
I did manage to find bamboo shoots, pre-cut in packages in the supermarkets. They are softer to cut and need to be blanched to remove the sour taste before cooking. In this soon kueh recipe, I made the filling with dried baby shrimps, shallots, bamboo shoots, turnip, carrot and dried mushrooms. It’s a fun recipe that me and my mummy will make together, she cooking the filling and me making the skin, we will assemble the snack together before steaming it.
For the skin, there are many different recipes out there. Some recipes use rice flour and tapioca flour, some using wheat starch and tapioca flour. I have tried both. The version with rice flour yields a soon kueh with somewhat whitish skin and it’s difficult to roll and seal as the dough breaks easily and is non-elastic. The wheat starch version yields a translucent skin which is stretchable when combined with tapioca flour, and easy to roll and seal, somewhat similar to har gow wrappers.
Are tapioca flour and tapioca starch the same?
The two names, tapioca flour and tapioca starch actually refer to the same product. Depending on where you live, some manufacturers might name it differently but the actual product is the same.
Are wheat flour and wheat starch the same?
On the contrary, wheat flour and wheat starch are not the same. Wheat flour contains starch but not vice-versa.
Tips for making Soon Kueh
- It’s important to add hot boiling water to the flour bit by bit when making the dough. The dough will turn out firm, elastic and non-breakable.
- Using just the jicama in the filling without the bamboo shoots is perfectly fine, in fact, we preferred the jicama version more than the bamboo shoots. We have also used cabbage to replace jicama and it tastes fantastic.
- Lightly brush some vegetable oil after it is done steaming to keep it moist. I used olive oil for that.
How to store Soon Kueh
Cooked soon kueh is best eaten warm just after steaming. You can store it in an airtight container on the countertop for 1 day or in the fridge for up to 3 days or the freezer for up to a month. The skin will turn harder. Just reheat by steaming on high heat for about 3-5 minutes and it will turn soft again.
Uncooked ones can be stored after wrapping. Store it in an airtight container and separate each soon kueh with baking paper. Freeze it in the freezer for up to a month. To cook, steaming without thawing over boiling water for 10 minutes.
Check out other local snack recipes
If you are into local kuehs, do check out these recipes, many of these are gluten-free, eggs-free and made with Monk fruit or Stevia sweetener, making them a healthier snack version from the original recipe:
- Pumpkin Ang Ku Kueh with Purple Sweet Potato Filling 紫薯馅金瓜红龟粿
- Ang Ku Kueh (Red Tortoise Cake 红龟粿)
- Ang Ku Kueh with Mung Bean Paste Filling (Red Tortoise Cake 绿豆蓉红龟粿)
- Pandan Coconut Ang Ku Kueh (Red Tortoise Cake 香兰椰丝红龟粿)
- Pumpkin Ang Ku Kueh with Chestnut Paste Filling 甘栗馅金瓜红龟粿
- Dadar Gulung (Kueh Dadar 香兰椰丝卷)
- Ondeh Ondeh
- Sweet Potato Kueh 甜番薯椰丝糕
- Kueh Ubi Kayu 蒸木薯糕 (Steamed Tapioca / Cassava Cake)
- Kaya Puff Pastry (Kaya Kok / 咖椰角)
- Sesame Ball (Air Fryer Chinese Jian Dui 气炸锅煎堆)
Watch how to make Soon Kueh on YouTube
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Soon Kueh 笋粿 (Bamboo Shoots Dumplings)
- 100 g wheat starch
- 60 g tapioca flour
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- ½ tsp fine salt
- 220 ml hot boiling water
- 500 g jicama bangkuang or turnip
- 400 g bamboo shoots
- 1 carrot
- 5 dried mushrooms
- 50 g dried baby shrimps
- 100 g shallots
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
- 2 tbsp fish sauce season to taste
- White pepper season to taste
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce season to taste
- ½ cup water
Make the skin
- In a mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients (100g wheat starch, 60g tapioca flour, 1/2 tsp fine salt) together. Use a chopstick to stir until well mixed.100 g wheat starch, 1/2 tsp fine salt, 60 g tapioca flour
- Add in 200ml hot boiling water gradually (important to add gradually) and use the chopstick to stir until it forms a lumpy dough.220 ml hot boiling water
- Once dough is cool enough to handle, use hand to knead the dough and add oil until it form a pliable dough. Dough should be stretchable, non breakable, like playdoh.Note: If it is too wet, add some tapioca flour. If too dry, add some water.1 tbsp vegetable oil
- Wrap with cling wrap and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
Fry the vegetable filling
- Soak 50g dried shrimps for about 30 minutes. Drain and shred in food processor.50 g dried baby shrimps
- Soak 5 dried mushrooms until it turns soft. Squeeze off the water, cut off stem from mushrooms and mince coarsely.5 dried mushrooms
- Peel jicama and carrots. Julienne 500g jicama, 400g bamboo shoots, 1 carrot (can use a food mixer with blade attachment to shred jicama and carrots).Peel off 100g shallots and slice into thin strips.500 g jicama, 400 g bamboo shoots, 100 g shallots, 1 carrot
- Sauté dried baby shrimps and shallots with 4 tbsp cooking oil until aroma is released.2 tbsp vegetable oil
- Add jicama, bamboo shoots, carrots, mushrooms and stir fry.
- Add about 1/2 cup water and let it simmer until jicama and bamboo shoots turn soft, with lid covered. Takes about 20-30 minutes.1/2 cup water
- Add fish sauce, white pepper, shaoxing wine, oyster sauce. Season to taste. Fry until liquid evaporates. Set aside in a plate and let it cool.2 tbsp Shaoxing wine, 2 tbsp fish sauce, White pepper, 1 tbsp oyster sauce
Assemble the Soon Kueh
- Measure about 50g for each dough. Lightly flour the rolling mat and rolling pin.
- Roll the dough into a ball and flatten with a rolling pin into a round shape.Note: Keep the unused dough covered while working on each dough.
- Scoop about 2 tbsp of vegetable filling onto the middle of the flattened dough.
- Fold the skin into half to form a semi-circle shape. Seal by first pressing the middle, then move to both sides to seal.
- Place on lined greased parchment paper on a steamer tray.
- Boil water to a rolling boil. Then steam the soon kueh for 10 minutes over high heat. Skin will turn translucent.
- After steaming, brush some vegetable oil on the soon kueh.
- Serve warm with dark soy sauce and chilli sauce.