The Purple Ang Gu Kueh

Week 8 of shelter-in-place. I have been cooking so much lately, especially my childhood favorites. In stressful times, we seek comfort in what we love and know best. Singaporean food and snacks is what I grew up with and there is so much to love about them. As a melting pot of Chinese, Malay, Indian and western cultures, we have a wide variety of food and snacks that is uniquely Singaporean. Living in the US has forced me to try my hands on many of them so that we can feel the comfort of home every so often. There is a long list of food items I have yet to try making at home. For this week though, I want to turn to Ang Ku Kueh (红亀粿) for comfort.

The ‘Ang’ in Ang Gu Kueh means Red in Chinese. The literal translation in English is Red Tortoise Cake. Red is an auspicious color in the Chinese culture and tortoise symbolizes longevity. Eating this snack is believed to bring about fortune and properity. We need plenty of both during this trying times.

I have made Ang Gu Kueh in the traditional red, as well as grey and green. While at the Whole Foods store last weekend, the purple Japanese yam was screaming for attention from me. 💡 there is my natural food coloring for a purple Ang Gu Kueh!

I wanted to change up the filling as well and decided on salty mung bean paste. It turned out just like the filling of salty Dao Sar Piah (咸豆沙饼) which is another of my favorite childhood snack. The savory taste and fragrance of shallot oil just shine through the tender, chewy skin of ang gu kueh. I will definitely make it again.


Savory mung bean paste 

  • 150 g mung bean soaked in water for 4 hr
  • 2 pandan leaves knotted
  • 65 g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 2 Tbsp water

Purple Yam Skin

  • 150g glutinous rice flour mix evenly with 125 ml water; refrigerate overnight, covered
  • 60 g undiluted fresh coconut milk
  • 5 tsp rice flour
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2 tsp castor sugar
  • 1 medium-sized Japanese purple yam, wash and peeled; cut 110g into small pieces
  • banana leaf scald in hot water; drain and blot totally dry; cut into 12 pieces each slightly bigger than then the ang ku kueh mold
  • rice flour, for dusting
  • peanut oil, for glazing


  • 35 ml ang ku kueh mold


Savory mung bean paste

  1. Spread soaked mung beans evenly on a large steaming tray, place the two knotted pandan leaves over the beans. Steam at high heat for 15 minutes until beans are tender.
  2. Remove the pandan leaves from the mung bean. Mash the beans with a potato masher. Blend mung bean with 5 tbsp water, sugar and salt.
  3. In a skillet, heat peanut oil over medium high heat. Fry sliced shallots until fragrant and crispy. Stir in the mung bean paste until well combined. Remove from heat and cool.
  4. Divide cooled bean paste into balls, about 16g each.

Purple Yam Skin

  1. Mix the glutinous rice flour with water, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Mix coconut milk in a small pot with rice flour, oil, and sugar till smooth. Cook over low heat, stirring, to make a smooth paste. Cool.
  3. Steam purple yam until soft and mash with potato masher. Add coconut paste. Continue mashing till paste is smooth.
  4. Add wet glutinous rice flour made earlier. Knead thoroughly until dough is evenly purple. Divide and roll into balls weighing 25 g each.


  1. Lightly dust mold with rice flour.
  2. Flatten a ball of dough to about 6 cm wide.
  3. Place 1 piece of filling in the middle. Nudge and press dough to seal filling. Roll gently between palms till round, dusting lightly with rice flour if too damp. Place in mold. Press to flatten and level top, dust with flour and place a banana leaf over it. Turn over mold and whack hard against worktop so that kueh falls out, onto shiny side of banana leaf.


  1. Bring steamer to a rolling boil. Place kueh in steamer, on a perforated tray.
  2. Cover and reduce heat to very low so that water barely simmers. Steam till kueh is slightly expanded, about 6 minutes.
  3. Remove kueh to a plate. Glaze with oil. Cool. Trim excess leaf around kueh.
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