The Making of Ang Koo

Beauties in rows!

Just before steaming them - the outer skin should not be overly red, the banana leaf must not stick to the snack sand have lots of patience and tender care in making this snack.

These snacks should not be overly sweet, nor can they turn hard too fast and must have the texture of having undergone experienced hands. The mould patterns must be clear and show detail.  They are savoury on your palate and go well with tea.

All prepared to make the outer skin.

Glutinous rice flour. Edible red food colouring. Fresh banana plant leaves. A bamboo steamer. Deft experienced hands. Mung beans. Some sweet potatoes. A carefully chosen wooden mould for beautiful tortoise top patterns. Mindfulness that the dough does not stick to the mould. A sense of expectation. Ability to form tight  balls in a size to fit the mould you use.  Warm weather helps, like back along the Straits of Malacca or beside the South China Sea.  Have friends and relatives help out!

The final outcome, red tortoises, made to mark festive occasions.

Unlike some other specific Straits Chinese creations, there are not too many obvious variations for this snack, whether you talk to Penangites, Malaccans or Singaporeans.  The beauty of being able to savour this snack is that they are not made  for daily consumption, so there is a special gratefulness about being able to partake them. I prefer the authentic and original version, red ones, instead of some of the new fangled recipes that use panda or durian flavours.  In south-east Asia, you can source them commercially but nothing is as tasty as those made lovingly at home to celebrate the first month of a an infant.   Increasingly you can at times spot these home made versions brought over to be served at the end of an eight course banquet at a restaurant.
Wooden mould for the Ang Koo outer skin designs.

Lots of preparation and planning are entailed -as required for most of these Straits Chinese creations!  The yellow coloured mung beans have to be washed and soaked at least overnight.   Aroma, texture and taste are key factors used by elderly aunts or uncles to judge the quality of your Ang Koo.   If you want to be dainty, you can serve them in lacquer coated coffin carriers and imagine them being carried along to relatives and neighbours along the narrow lanes of heritage Georgetown in Penang or down Jonkers Street in Malacca. Some for the Ang Koo shapes produced vary, as you can find round balls, rectangle versions and more, but roundness signifies wholesomeness and achievement of a cycle.  Those round ball Ang Koo balls indicate the north of male infants.  A lot of the ingredients are left to stand at room temperature and never see the inside of a fridge.
The fillings on the right - mung bean with sweet potato.

Ingredients for making the skin for Ang Koo:

Cooking corn oil
A pinch of salt
A pinch of sugar
One tablespoon ordinary rice flour
300gm glutinous rice flour
200grams of steamed and meshed skinned sweet potato
Edible food dye, preferably light hued pink
100 ml hot water

Ingredients for making the filling for Ang Koo:
100g castor sugar
Quarter teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cooking corn oil
200 grams of pre-soaked mung beans

Other things to pre-assemble:
Banana leaves cut into small squares to fit the intended size of each Ang Koo.
Use light grease over each pre-cut banana leaf square.

Procedure for the fillings:
1. Wash and soak the mung beans at least overnight.
2. Next day,m begin by steaming the soaked mung beans for around 20 minutes.
3.  Place the warm cooked mung bean mesh to blend in a food processor with the salt, cooking oil and sugar garnishing.
4.  Obtain a smooth outcome with the mung bean mix.
5. Hand shape the mung bean mixture into balls of the size that fits your mould.
6.  Let the mung bean balls stand at room temperature.

Procedure for the skin:
1. Blend and mix the related ingredients of sugar, ordinary rice flour, glutinous flour and sweet potato.
2. Add the cooking oil, edible  dye and hot water as you knead the mixture.
3. Put aside the mixture under muesli cloth and let it stand.

Making the Ang Koo:
1. Allocate the skin dough into portions to accommodate the pre-shaped filling balls.
2. Flatten the divided skin portions to fit in the filling balls - ensure each ball is sealed adequately.
3. Flour dust the mould and place pre-shaped dough with skin into each mould.
4. Press the dough properly into each mould  and knock each out, to be placed on top of each pre-cut banana leaf square.
5. Occasionally flour dust each mould used to prevent unwanted sticking of the dough into the details of the mould.
6. Place all ready moulded pieces on to a bamboo steamer over a heated wok.
7. Steam the snacks on medium heat until done or around 10 minutes. Watch over this process like a hawk!

Photographs above were taken in the kitchen of Ms Suan Chee, Melbourne.


chocolatesuze said…
woahhh your angkoo look amazing!
Kin Yuen said…
Oh well I cannot take the credit for the outcomes, it was made by Ms Suan Chee of Melbourne and I was fortunate enough to be present in her kitchen!