“Kueh sarlat” or “kueh seri muka” is one of the popular traditional snack in Malaysia and Singapore. And while it is fairly cheap and easy to buy these, it is not easy to find really good ones. And nothing beats homemade, with freshly squeezed coconut milk no less!
The green custard layer is made with a mixture of pandan (screw pine) leaves, eggs and coconut cream. This is the “sweet” portion of the snack. The white layer is composed of glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk, contributing to the slightly savoury portion. Together, they are the ultimate sweet-savoury formula.
I sifted through a few recipes online and finally decided to go with this one. I couldn’t find any blue butterfly pea flowers so the glutinous rice was left white. But as that was purely decorative, I didn’t think it mattered.
Makes a 6-inch square cake
For the glutinous rice
300g glutinous rice, rinsed
200g fresh coconut milk
1 tsp salt
4 pieces of pandan leaves
1) The night before, soak the uncooked rice in water overnight or at least 6 hours, ensuring the grains are completely submerged.
2) When ready to cook the rice, drain the soaking liquid from the rice. Place rice grains in the metal container for steaming.
3) Crush the pandan leaves and stuff them between the rice grains.
4) Add salt to the coconut milk and stir to incorporate. Then, add the coconut milk to the rice, ensuring they are mixed well.
5) Place rice into steamer and steam for 20 minutes.
6) Remove rice from steamer and pick out the pandan leaves.
7) Prepare a 6-inch square tin by lining it with 2 strips of aluminium foil perpendicularly, pressing them into the corners of the cake tin tightly.
8) Scrap glutinous rice into prepared cake tin, making sure all the pandan leaves are removed. Distribute rice as evenly as you can, making sure it is compact.
For the pandan custard
165g eggs (about 3 medium)
200g thick coconut milk
150g fine granulated sugar
30 pieces of pandan leaves, rinsed and cut into small pieces
10g corn starch
25g plain flour
A little green color paste, optional
1) The night before, prepare the pandan juice by blending the cut pandan leaves in a blender with as little water as possible. You will need more than 100g of water.
2) Squeeze the blended pulp to get the pandan juice. Allow the juice to sit, covered in the refridgerator so the pandan sediments have time to settle at the bottom of your container.
3) On the next day, after preparing the glutinous rice, start on the custard by whisking together eggs and sugar.
4) If you have more than 100g of pandan juice, remove the top portion of the liquid until you get 100g of juice. Pour pandan juice and thick coconut milk into egg mixture and whisk to combine.
5) Stir flour and cornstarch into egg mixture until it is smooth and free of lumps. Add a little green color paste if desired.
6) Strain the egg mixture into a large metal bowl and heat this over a Bain-Marie, whisking continuously until the custard just starts to thicken. It should still be quite fluid.
7) Pour the slightly thicken pandan custard onto the prepared glutinous rice in the cake tin and allow to steam for 25 to 30 minutes, until the custard had set. Wrap the lid of the steamer with a cloth to catch any condensation.
8) Remove from steamer and allow to cool to room temperature before removing from cake tin and cutting into slices.
Due to the large amount of coconut milk, this “kueh” does not keep well and should ideally be consumed within the day. You can refridgerate it overnight and steam it for 5 minutes just to heat it up before eating. Or, just be generous, and remember that “sharing is caring”. Your friends would love you for it!