Monday, February 28, 2011

Chwee Kueh and one of my favorite childhood games

In Cantonese, we call this “Voon chye go” and this is something that reminds me of my Mum’s good friend in Ipoh.  I called her “Ah Tai” (means the eldest).  According to my Mum, she got this nickname because she spoke with a very loud voice and all the neighbors on the street respected her and gave her "face" because she is the oldest and a very generous person.  She used to serve food and drinks to her mahjong “kakis” (mates).  One dish that she served that left a deep impression with me was her chwee kueh (rice cake).  They tasted out of this world delicious.! I remembered “Ah Tai” stayed in this famous street in Ipoh in one of the old shop houses. The street used to be called Theatre Street before our Government change all the streets’ name in Ipoh to Bahasa Malaysia.  Mum went there to play mahjong with her and her other friends. While Mum was playing mahjong, I would be playing with other children who lived there and one of our favorite games was kicking this colorful object which you will see in the photos below.  I have not seen this for 40 years since I moved from Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur. The other day when my Quay Lo and I went to have lunch in one of our favorite Chinese coffee shops, we walked pass a shop and many of these were displayed outside on the varendah.  I turned to him and told him I must buy one and share my story about it with my friends.  Don’t ask me what this is called in English because I don’t have a clue.  Any of my Asian friends can tell me?  In Cantonese, it is called “Yin”.  Now you may want to know how did we play the game.  Okay, each of us would have our own“Yin”.  To play the game, we needed to kick this up in the air with one foot and continue kicking as many times as possible without letting it drop on the ground.  Once dropped on the ground, that will be our score. So who got the most score would be the winner. You will be surprised to know that the “Yin” we owned was one that we handmade by ourselves and we would decorate our “Yin” with very colorful tin can sheets and feathers. We would make it look very attractive and took great pride in it. We would compete with each other to own the best looking "Yin".  Sometimes we so admired our friend’s “Yin” that we made our “Yin” as a price to the winner.  It was a lot of fun kicking "Yin". In my opinion, games played during my childhood days were more outdoor, creative and interactive as compared to games played by kids today.  The next question for those who has never seen or heard of this game may be curious to know what this is made of.  They are made of  one very long nail with a rather big flat head and many layers of round rubber sheets and tin can sheets of about 3 to 4 cm in diameter. All the sheets were punched with a hole in the centre just big enough to let the nail go through.  The top and bottom layers had to be rubber.  In between were numerous tin can sheets.  Rubber bands were used to tie the feathers to the tip of nail.  Yes, it is that simple to make a toy for ourselves those days. It practically cost us nothing and yet we could derive hours of pleasure from it.

Now, coming back to chwee kueh, here is the recipe. Mine may not taste as good as At Tai’s but my mum and my friends love it so I presume it is worth sharing this recipe with you. 

Makes 30

300g rice flour
½ tsp corn flour
2 C water
¼ tsp salt

3 C water
3 tbs oil

3 tbs oil
3 tbs garlic, chopped
150g dried preserved radish pieces (chai poh)
¼ tsp pepper
4 tbs sugar

Grease chwee kueh moulds of 4 cm diameter and place on steamer to heat. Mix (A) together in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.  Bring 3 C water to boil. Add to A and blend with a whisk to get a slightly gluey consistency.  Pour batter into each chwee kueh mould, filling to just below the brim.  Steam for 20 mins over moderate heat. Ensure water is boiling before covering the steamer.  Cool before scooping out.  Top with (C).

To make topping (C):
Heat the oil and fry garlic till golden. Add preserved sweet radish and fry for 5 mins till fragrant.  Add pepper and sugar.  Add more sugar if a sweeter taste is desired. Fry for another min.

You can serve this with sambal belacan or hoi sin sauce or tauchew sauce. 

Note: Vary the amount of corn flour to adjust texture.  Use moderate heat when steaming to prevent dimples from forming. Also, put vinegar into the boiling water in the steamer so chwee kueh will be white. There are 2 types of chai poh. Use the sweet one and not the salted. It is better to prepare the toppings before hand and keep in the freezer for a week. Steamed chwee kueh, if kept in air tight container in the fridge can last for 2 days.

 I have submitted this entry to  Malaysian Monday.  Do check out  3 hungry tummies or test with a skewer for more information.


  1. your recipes, like your stories always delight;)

  2. A fascinating story. And, your recipe looks delicious!

  3. Hi Veronica...I agree with David, your recipes like your stories are always a delight :) Thanks for sharing and the kueh looks great..with the sambal..mmmm delish no doubt! :)

    Have a great Monday :)

  4. A nice reminder...I remember I liked to play 'Yin' a lot with my neighbors, hmmm...really long time ago :DD
    So incidence I made Chwee Kueh too. I think yours looks better and very delicious too!

  5. i recognise that (: my school gave us that during racial harmony day and is so nice! anyway, the chwee kueh look so DELICIOUS and better than those selling outside! (:

  6. I played the "Yin" with my sister and brother when we were young! I like your Chwee Kueh, it looks really lovely!

  7. Hmm... could it be called a shuttlecock? Since the we call badminton in Cantonese "Tah Yin", and call the shuttlecock as "Yin" and not the proper mandarin translation as "Yu mou kau".
    I love woon chai gou too, and there is none here now in KK.

  8. childhood memories area always sweet. You dishes are delicious.

  9. David, Elin, Lois: Thanks, comments like yours keep my blog going. Please know they mean a lot to me.

    Ann, Ah Tze: Well I tried to kick the "Yin" yesterday and you know what? I cannot even get a score 3!! I remember my hightest score as a kid was around 100.

    Wendy: I don't think it is called shuttle cock although I can understand why you think so. Maybe there is no English name for this game as my quaylo said he has never seen anything like that before.

    Swathi: They are sweeter as you grow older:D

  10. I have not heard of yin. Thank you for describing that game and introducing it to me. It's amazing how kids get easily bored with all the technology and toys they have these day, but back then the simplest toy could offer hours of fun.
    These rice cakes look so yummy. I'd love a couple right about now.

  11. I love chwee kueh! yours looks fantastic ;)

  12. You just brought back memories of tikam tikam, zero point, and collecting erasers printed with national flags! Would you happen to have the recipe for making chai poh from scratch?

  13. Oh, I've seen these...never could figure out how to play with it properly! This looks beautiful. And thank you again for the lovely earrings!!

  14. Of course he hasn't seen this before. It's a Chinese game, Hahaha!

  15. i know theatre st, my grandma used to stay there and i'm not too quite sure if i have really stayed there before..even if i did, that would probably be a short period of time. surpisingly, i do not know about the 'yin'. the one that you're showing here is so colourful, are you going to play with that or keeping it for memories? your chwee kueh looks good..i think they are the same as 'put chai koh'..maybe smaller in size..

  16. hi veronica! hope i got your name right!

    Chwee kueh is one of my favorite snacks too! The chai poh is really the soul to good chwee kueh! thanks for sharing this, have to find time to make these!

  17. Yum! Looks like an interesting dish, and what a great story!

  18. Once in a while, I miss Chwee Kueh for weekend breakfast :O

  19. Lequan: You may want to try to make a
    "Yn" for your kids and teach them how to play it. Oh, how I wish you are staying nearby and I can send you a dozen of the quiche.

    Medeja, Cathy, yummychunklet: thanks:D

    Eugene: Yes these old games bring back lots of childhood memories for lots of people. I don't know how to make chai poh from scratch and do not have a recipe for that either. I will find out from my mum and if I learn anything, I will email you ok?

    Belinda: So happy to hear that you got the earrings and like it.

    Wendy: Ya lor... hehe

    lena: I am surprised to hear you know about Theatre Street. I wonder if my mum knows your grandma. Ya, chwee kueh is the same as put chai koh.

    Alan: You got my right:D You are absolutely right. The rick cake is nothing without the chai poh.

    tigerfish: Can you buy chwee kueh at your end or do you have to make it yourself when you crave for it?

  20. I used to ask for lots of extra chay po for mt chweeh kueh.

    I remember the game as well but I'm not too good in this.

  21. Zoe, me too, I love LOTS of with my chwee kueh. I am glad to know so many of my friends knew the game. Have a nice day my friend.

  22. OK Darling, lets go outside and kick a few around so we can work up an appetite for noodle night. (Yikes I can't stop thinking about Hokkien Mee!). P.S. I don't think the "yin" will work as well as a hacky sack.

  23. Thanks for sharing the nice childhood story. I like this kueh too.

  24. The game sounds like fun :) Great recipe.Diane

  25. Lovely recipe but I especially love your story! I love how you intertwine both and make your posts so interesting.

    I am a huge fan of rice cakes! Thank you for the wonderful idea.

  26. Darling: I am so satisfied with both our meals yesterday. Now I feel I don't have eat for the next 2 days! hehe

    Sonia: You are most welcome. Can't wait to have another eating session with you this coming Saturday. I am looking forward to meet your prince and princess:D

    Diane: It was really fun but now I cannot even kick it 3 times and keep it off the ground. I leg is telling me that, "Hey! have you forgot your age?" hehe

    Ameena: Many thanks for your kind words. I am not a good story teller and my English is just so so. I just write out my thoughts to share with my friends and readers.

  27. What a great find! I didn't know they sold those anymore. My mum tried to teach us how to play it but we never got the hang of it. It's similar to the game "hacky sack" played with a beanbag. Thanks for the chwee kueh recipe too, yum.

  28. shaz, you are most welcome and hope to see you around often.

  29. Oh I haven't had chwee kueh in ages - yours look so yummy. :)

    The nice part about reading your blog posts is that I get to satisfy my desire for a good story as well as my gluttonous appetite at the same time! :D

  30. Kenny, I have to say this is a good recipe and this is my mum's favorite. You know to get a compliment from a good writer like yourself is unreal to me. I have to pinch myself to see if I am hearing this in my dream. hehe

  31. That toy looks so colourful! I have never come across it. Must be fun to play. Love your chwee kueh. I have not tried that too. Looks delicious...mmm. The recipe is not too difficult. Hope I will try one day. Thanks very much for sharing. MaryMoh at


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