Steamed Palm Sugar Fudge / Kueh Ko Swee (Malaysia)

Is there a food that you love, and you barely know how to pronounce? That was Kueh Ko Swee for me 😅 . I had moved to Kuala Lumpur only a couple of months before, so I was still new to a lot of the malaysian traditions and delicacies.

I tasted it for the first time at a friend’s house during the holidays, and it got me so intrigued that I immediately asked for the recipe to learn how to do it. “What’s the name again?” I kept asking.

“So what is it?” You might ask. It’s a jelly dessert, covered in grated coconut. A true tropical treat!

Most of the time it’s naturally gluten-free, because the flour component is a mix of rice and tapioca flour. If you visit Malaysia, make sure you ask the ingredients before making your purchase! But the best thing is that it’s so easy to cook that you don’t have to come all the way here to try it.

Don’t be discouraged by some ingredients that might seem unfamiliar, you can find alternatives! The basic combination is a batter of rice and tapioca flour, water and a sugar syrup, then steamed cooked to obtain the jelly and chewy result.

In the original recipe, there are a few additions coming from the local tradition:

  • Pandan is a tropical plant used in Southeast Asia to give a sweet aroma to certain foods and sweets. To create a simple comparison, it is almost used like vanilla in many countries. If you don’t have panda leaves available don’t despair, you can prepare it without.

  • Palm sugar instead is more widely available outside of Southeast Asia, especially in cities where whole foods and eco supermarkets are common.

  • Alkaline water is not a must, it is just a plus to make the “fudge” more spongy.

Ready to make it yourself?

Ingredients (8+ people)

  • 140 gr gluten-free flour mix (or simple rice flour)

  • 140 gr tapioca flour

  • 650 ml boiling water

  • 1 tbsp of alkaline water

  • 100 gr sugar

  • 200 gr palm sugar

  • 280 ml water

  • 4 Pandan leaves (optional)

  • 150 gr grated fresh coconut ideally, use normal grated coconut if that’s the only available

  • 1/2 tbsp salt

83. Kueh Ko Swee - ingredients.jpg
  1. Combine the gluten-free flour and tapioca, sieve together and place in a bowl.

  2. To prepare the sugar syrup place the sugar, palm sugar and 280 ml of water in a sauce pan. Add the pandan leaves if you have them available. Mix gently over low-heat until the sugar is dissolved, then discard the pandan leaves and let it cool down.

  3. Add the cool syrup to the flour and mix into a batter. Add the boiling water (650 ml) to the batter while stirring gently. Lastly, add the alkaline water.

  4. After the batter is well mixed, pour the liquid into a steaming tray. I have a small steaming tray, so I decided to steam half of the batter first, and then the rest.

  5. Steam for 20 minutes with the lid close, you will see that the liquid turns into a gelatine-gummy block.

  6. Let it cool down (at least 2-3 hours) then cut into cubes or rectangles (not more than 1-2 cm). Coat with grated fresh coconut, the proper Asian way to do it is using chopsticks to roll the cubes!

83. Kueh Ko Swee - final (1).jpg

PRO TIP: My friend suggested me a trick to ensure a great coconut coating. Especially if you store the steamed block in the fridge before coating, the result might be drier and less sticky. Easy fix! Use the steaming tray to moist the cubes right before the coating (5 minutes) and you’ll see that the coconut will stick beautifully to the cubes.