Traditional Hainanese Kueh / 传统海南粿-蒸压粑 by Michelle Heng

My mother's recipe


400g old ginger
500g grated fresh coconut
250g granulated palm sugar
1200g glutinous rice flour
50g plain or rice flour
20g salt
Pandan leaves


1. Shred old ginger finely (cut diagonally along the grain/fibre of the ginger) and air dry them in a colander overnight (or up to one to two days).
2. Fry the ginger in a non stick pan (without any oil) over medium high heat till they almost dry up (a little brownish & crinkly), takes about 15-20 mins.
3. Add palm sugar and grated coconut and stir thoroughly. Fry till the palm sugar melted and coat all the ginger and grated coconut. Ensure these are thoroughly coated, cooked and not wet so that the coconut won't turn bad when left in the open air environment (not overnight though). This step would take about another 15-20 mins.
4. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
5. Dissolve the salt in a jug of room temperature water.
6. Combine the two types of flour in a big mixing bowl, make a hole in the centre and pour in some water. Knead the flour into dough and add water a little by little throughout the kneading process. The dough is ready when it no longer sticks to your hands.
7. Boil a pot of water with a few knotted pandan leaves.
8. Apportion the big dough into 50-60g balls (make about 40-50 balls).
9. Roll the ball of dough in your palm then slowly flatten it to look like a patty ensuring about 1cm thickness for each dough patty.
10. Slide the dough patty into the hot water to cook, let it cooks a further 3-5mins after they float onto the surface. This is to ensure the centre of the buah is cooked through.
11. Scoop up the buah and drain. While it is still hot, coat the buah thoroughly with the ginger/coconut mixture.
12. Bon appetit!


1. I do steps 9-11 almost concurrently. While waiting for the next batch of buah to be cooked, I coat the earlier batch of buah.
2. There are other recipe that will also include ground peanut and sesame seeds. Just add these 2 ingredients into step 3. My Hainanese clan prefer the buah without these 2 ingredients.
3. As with any traditional kuehs, one can adjust the ingredients accordingly (eg add more ginger or palm sugar etc) to one's preference, there's no right or wrong.