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In Asian Treats, Recipe on
October 6, 2014

Steamed Tapioca Layer Cakes (Banh Da Lon)

We used to buy these steamed cakes from the Asian supermarket every once in a while- they were always cleverly placed near the checkouts so that whilst we were waiting in line, we’d be tempted by the bright colours of the many varieties available. My parents liked buying the nice round ones with red bean, but I liked the off cuts because it tasted the same, but you’d get a lot more than with the nicely shaped ones. They were always soft and chewy (unless we kept them for too long) with a fragrant pandan coconut taste but one packet was never quite enough for our family of four!

It took me a while, but I eventually managed to find the name of these cakes, and a recipe too! 🙂 Turns out they’re Vietnamese (although there’s Indonesian/Malaysian versions as well, they’re just not quite the same as the ones I used to have), and are made of tapioca, which gives them the nice chewy texture.

As I had all the ingredients in the pantry, and the method was quite simple (i.e. mix everything together and steam), I got to work quickly. There is a bit of skill involved in the layering- add the next layer too early and the two layers will mix, resulting in less defined layers (like my bottom later). Add the the next layer too late, and the layers will be too distinct and will peel off each other when cooled (like my top few layers).

To save time, I made mine all in a big pan and cut it into diamonds- they don’t look as impressive as the store-bought ones, but they tasted every bit as amazing! Only thing was they didn’t keep past a day, because they turned hard afterwards. It’s alright though- we could easily finish off the whole batch in one go next time anyway!

Steamed Tapioca Layer Cakes (Banh Da Lon) Recipe

1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
400mL coconut milk
1C water
2 cups tapioca starch/flour
1/2 cup Rice Flour
a few drops pandan essence

  1. In a sauce pan over low heat, dissolve sugar and salt in coconut milk and water. Let cool. In a large bowl, combine tapioca , rice flour and the coconut mixture. Stir well until dissolved. Divide the mixture into two bowls. In one of the bowls, pour a few drops of pandan essence to make a green batter.
  2. Grease a pan or mould with oil. I used a round cake tin.
  3. Fill pan with a layer of the green green mixture and steam until surface is dry, then add white mixture onto the green layer.
  4. Continue steaming until the white layer is dry (it will turn translucent) and then continue to add some green mixture to create another layer on top. Repeat this, with alternating colours until the mixtures are used up.
  5. Let cool completely and cut into pieces with a greased knife. It is best eaten within a day, but if you keep it longer and it goes hard, just put it in the microwave for a bit and it will soften again.

In Recipe, Yum Cha on
March 8, 2014

Steamed Chive Dumplings


The uni semester has once again started, meaning lots of early mornings, late finishes, long lectures, long bus rides etc etc etc…..and inevitably, the lack of time to do anything I really want to do 🙁

I didn’t get to much in the holidays (hence the lack of blogging this year) because all I really felt like doing was sitting around and do nothing, which was sorta what ended up happening and now there’s a little bit of regret for not doing some things I should have…..

My mum made some chive potstickers one day, and since she had quite a bit of the filling left, I made some steamed chive dumplings the next day because I think chives go better with steamed dumplings (though that’s probably just my thing). I don’t make dumplings often so my dumpling skins were a bit thicker than they should have been and I didn’t realise that steaming them for 15 minutes instead of 5 (as my filling had pork in it whereas normal chive dumplings don’t) would break most of the dumpling skins (well there goes my half and hour of wrapping and pleating!). Nevertheless, they were delicious and well worth the effort 🙂 Read more

In Cute Food, Recipe, Yum Cha on
July 5, 2011

Squid and Seafood dumplings

One of the first things I did once my exams finished (*ahem* more than two weeks ago) was to bake a batch of crème caramels (which I must blog about some day….once I get it perfect!) as I’d been receiving requests from my family for them since ages ago. It’s been a while since I’ve made a relatively successful dessert and I was quite happy to be in the kitchen again measuring and whisking away. It’s been quite a while since I’ve been in the kitchen making a nice dessert, as you may have noticed from the things I post on this blog. I do however, bake and cook a lot more than I blog- don’t worry, I haven’t completely stopped baking! I’ll admit that I’ve been quite lazy with blogging this year and too often, just can’t be bothered to photograph food nicely or to write something which doesn’t make me sound like an idiot (which, might I add, takes quite a lot of effort!) to publish here.


My second creation of these holidays, which I’m quite proud of, are these squid shaped (yess….they’re supposed to look like squid!) shrimp dumplings, which took me and my mum about 1.5 hours to make! The recipe comes from a cookbook I bought at the airport at the beginning of the year, on the way back from Hong Kong, Trendy Dim Sum in Hong Kong . Dim sum is one of my favourite things to make (though probably not as much as desserts and pastries!), despite me not liking yum cha that much, because it’s a really category of its own- with its unique techniques and methods, some of which are quite challenging.

I’ve been itching to try some recipes from this particular book though, because it has got to be the most creative dim sum book I’ve ever seen. Think pea shaped dumplings, turtle shaped pastries, chrysanthemum pastries just to name a few!

Dumplings before streaming

My mum often makes har gow (steamed prawn dumpling) at home, from a trusty recipe she obtained from a cooking course she attended ages ago (which I might have to share here some day) so making these dumplings wasn’t too much of a challenge for us. The dough/wrapper was a little different in this recipe because it’s supposed to be a crystal wrapper- that is, it’s supposed to be transparent. Which didn’t exactly happen to ours, as you can see in the pictures, and the addition of a tapioca starch paste to the dough made it incredibly sticky and difficult to handle. We didn’t exactly follow the recipe because we didn’t have a whole lot of seafood in our pantry so we basically made the filling with prawns and water chestnuts and minced some squid to stick all the filling ingredients together.

The squid shape was a lot harder to make than it looked and we ended up using so much time to perfect our squid shapes- probably a lot more time than it was worth but it was fun! They didn’t end up tasting as good as the har gow we usually make from my mum’s recipe but still quite good. And I thought they were pretty cute too!


Squid and Seafood Dumplings

Recipe from Trendy Dim Sum in Hong Kong

Crystal Wrapper
75g tapioca starch (can substitute with corn flour)
114g water
225g boiling water

150g wheat flour/starch (tang flour)
225g boiling water

300g chopped squid
300g cuttlefish
38g cooked shark’s fin
38g diced water chestnut
38g soaked white fungus
19g diced spring onion
19g diced bell pepper

4g salt
8g MSG
15g grandulated sugar
19g corn flour
19g oil

Some black sesame seeds for making the eyes

Crystal Wrapper
1. Mix the water and tapioca starch of (A) together. Then add in the boiling water, stir until the starch becomes half done. (I’m not quite sure what it means exactly by half done, but this should be a thick paste)
2. Pour the boiling water of (B) into the wheat flour until totally done (this should become a thick paste)
3. Mix the above mixtures together and knead the mixture into a smooth dough. Then divide to 20 portions, 11g each. Roll them into round, thin slices. We didn’t bother weighing the dough out- we divided them into fishball sized portions.

1. Wash the squid, mince and strir vigorously until sticky, add in the seasoning and then mix with the remaining filling ingredients. Set aside.
2. Wrap about 15g (~ 1 teaspoon) of the filling with a portion of crystal wrapper and knead into a squid shape, and then stick 2 black sesame seeds as eyes.
3. Steam in a steamer on high heat for aout 3 minutes. Serve with broth.

The shaping probably needs a bit of clarifying here. What we did was to roll the dough into a circle about the size of a mug, place the filling within and then fold it in half and pinch together the dough to seal. We then cut horizontally along the top of the semicircle so that the filling remained sealed. One of the ends of dough, we shaped into a ball, flattened slightly and then cut into strips. The other end, we pinched into point. With the extra dough we rolled that into a thin triangle and pinched it back onto the pointy end to make the tail.

P.S: Sorry for disappearing for so long- sleeping in and doing nothing just feels too good 😉