at one of the rest stops along the highways, my elder child spotted a sign in front of a food stall, written on it were the words "Ondeh Ondeh". While we queue up to get our drinks, he picked up his courage (after much hesitation...he is a very very shy boy, almost an introvert...) and went over to the stall to get the ondeh ondeh...one of his favourite local snacks.
We burst out laughing when he came back with not the familiar green sweet potato balls, but something like these! We were quite sure he must have ordered the wrong thing...those deep fried balls looked similar to the Chinese deep fried sesame balls with peanut filling. He told us despite the language barrier, the stall owner told him those were 'Ondeh Ondeh'. He felt rather sheepish and the soggy ondeh ondeh made him felt even more embarrassed ;)
I assured him we would be able to get the 'real' ondeh ondeh when we get to Malacca. Indeed, he finally got his ondeh ondeh fix when we had lunch at this nyonya restaurant, Nancy's Kitchen. Those sweet, fragrant morsels more than made up for the little funny incident earlier that day.
While shopping for local delicacies at San Shu Gong (三叔公) a famous local delicacy shop in Jonker Street, I couldn't help but bought a pack of gula melaka...palm sugar or Malacca sugar. I told my son, I will try make him the 'real' ondeh ondeh, once I learn how to make them, he can have them anytime.
Well, that promise was made sometime in March...and I didn't fulfill it six months later...and I only pushed myself to make them as the gula melaka was near its 'best before' date.
I have little, in fact, no experience in making traditional kuihs, although growing up, I was never deprived of homemade nyonya kuihs. My mother never seems to get tired or be intimated with making traditional kuihs...be it Chinese or nyonya ones. I have no idea what went into the making of sweet potato ondeh ondeh...I have assumed the main ingredients would be just mashed sweet potato wrapped with gula melaka? After studying the various recipes I have stumbled across, I realised that some were made without any sweet potatoes! What a surprise! But all of them would require the use of glutinous rice flour, some with the addition of tapoica flour.
I settled on this recipe which I took from this book '31 Snacks For Asian Cuisine Lovers' by Patsie Cheong. The recipe looks simple enough...actually too simple and brief for a beginner...but with the little tips and information from other recipes, I was confident enough to give it a go.
All went well, except when I tried to mix the ingredients into a dough...the amount of water used (only 28ml) is just way too little. I have to keep adding water before I could form the dough. In the end, I used up almost 100ml of liquid. I am sure there is a typo somewhere. There was no instructions on how to cook the sweet potatoes, so I chose to boil them with water. There were no instructions on how much dough to use or how much filling should go into one dough. I experienced with a few and managed to get the size which I was comfortable with...not so much on the right bite-size, but the portion which was just right for me to wrap in the filling. It was certainly not an easy task to wrap the dough...it breaks quite easily, and I was not skillful enough to wrap a loose filling. Fortunately, I managed to get the hang of it after a few over sized, giant ondeh ondeh ;)
After the daunting task of wrapping the doughs, I was all ready to boil them...but to my horrors, I noticed several doughs started to 'leak'...streaks of gula melaka was oozing out from 'hairline' cracks :( I left those leaking ones to the last, as I was quite sure they were gonna burst upon boiling. Surprisingly, even with some tiny cracks, the dough didnt burst when they were boiling in the water. The cooked doughs look as good as those without any 'leakage'. In fact, a couple of the 'good' ones started to leak while I was coating them with the grated coconut. What an experience!
Since I do not have a blender or food processor, I used ready made pandan paste instead of homemade blended juice from pandan leaves. I was happy that the amount of pandan paste I added was just right, at least the colour was a nice green. My elder one was all thumbs up, and the way he gobbled down the ondeh ondeh was quite an alarming sight! The younger fellow was beaming away since he was the one helping me divide the dough into small portions. The only complain he has, is to request me to made them smaller so that he can stuff it inside his mouth at one go ;)
I am glad I have finally fulfilled my promise...but there is another one to go...and another, and another...the list just goes on and on, but I will take it slowly, one at a time...
I am pleased to submit this post to this month's AB event, Aspiring Bakers #12: Traditional Kueh (October 2011) hosted by SSB of Small Small Baker. Thanks for hosting SSB!
Sweet Potato Ondeh Ondeh
(makes about 36)
300g sweet potatoes, mashed
100g glutinous rice flour
80g tapioca flour
about 100ml water (adjust accordingly)
1/4 teaspoon pandan paste (or green food colouring)
150g gula melaka, grated
grated coconut (I used amount equivalent to half a coconut)
pinch of salt
- Mix freshly grated coconut (get from local wet markets) with pinch of salt. Steam over high heat for 5 mins. Leave to cool, set aside.
- Grate gula melaka and mix with sugar, set aside.
- Peel, cut sweet potatoes into cubes, boil with water until soft. While still hot, mash the sweet potatoes until very fine.
- Dissolve pandan paste with 100ml of water.
- Place mashed sweet potatoes in a mixing bowl. Add glutinous rice flour, tapioca flour and sugar. Stir with hand to mix it. Add in the pandan paste liquid a little at a time until the mixture becomes a soft dough. Add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water if necessary. Knead the dough for a few minutes until the green colouring is evenly dissolve into the dough to yield a nice smooth dough.
- Divide the dough into small rounds (I used about 20g per dough). For each dough, place on your palm and flatten it to about the size of your palm. Wrap the dough with a teaspoon (I used my measuring spoon) of the gula melaka/sugar mixture. Pinch to seal. Repeat with the rest.
- Bring a pot of water to a full boil. Cook in batches - place ondeh ondeh into the boiling water, give a gentle stir to make sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pan. Leave to boil till they float on water, let them boil for another 2 mins. Remove and coat with grated coconut. These are best served freshly made. (Note: the dough can be wrapped, step 6, cover and leave to chill in the fridge, boil them only when ready to serve. However, I have only tried keeping uncooked dough in the fridge for not more than half a day.)