The secrets of Kueh Tutu

Is there a trend to revive our childhood delicacies recently ?? Kueh Tutu ~ something that is missed and much of our childhood. Something that is small and delicate and poses yet a challenging feat.
Took me a whole day for more than 3 attempts to determine half the secret behind it ~ well, just notice the word I say, just “HALF”. I still haven’t gotten the glitch of it totally. Everytime I feel that I am almost there but yet not there. Confusing, isn’t it ? Yeah, how to get that melt-in-the-mouth skin texture and yet able to unmould it nicely without imperfections.
There are many recipes for kueh tutu on google. But taking a closer look, you would realize they are more or less similar. 2 cups of flour for 170-180ml of moisture for the skin !
So here comes my first attempt with the most common recipe found !
And the method most generally adopted is using a fork to combine the crumbs till they are fine and with that correct level of moisture.
Sorry for the poor lightning as by the time I managed to capture these shots, I  was completely worn out !!! I was liked on my toes from 6 to 11pm, working non-stop on these little bites.And this is what happened. Instead of using Rice Flour as stipulated, I had used Glutinuous Rice Flour and I did not realise the mistake till the kuehs are steamed. I was literally getting a shock of my life when I saw my Kuehs turning into Mochis !!! Not willing to stop halfway, and thanks goodness for a newly implemented 24 hours supermarket in my area, I went to get rice flour at 10pm.
And despite my several attempts at unmoulding, I could only savage 3 of these more decent look ones. I was figuring that could be due to uneven water distribution when I added the water and the “crumbs” were not evenly moist. So some of it I could get a proper shape while some of it just spilled on me when I unmould.
Taste wise, it wasn’t good too. Instead of getting a melt in the mouth texture, I was feeling the grains.
The next day, I continued the experiments with the help of Mr Chunky. There and then, we experiment with steaming the flour to retain the moisture, but again it spilled when unmoulding.
We cracked our heads on how to introduce the moisture into the flour so that it can be evenly distributed to every grain of it. As we roast the flour in pandan leaves, and using a spray bottle, we added the water in several sprays and stirring it continuously over a very low flame and towards the end of it, we simply off the heat and just continue the stirs only.
Now I understood why the famous Kueh Tutu Uncle needs to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to cook his own rice flour. Yes, you definitely needs that kind of patience.
And this is what we got.
Finally we gotten something real close, with just a weeny bit for improvement. Probably a tad more moisture needed to get that silky looking texture. With the extremely sweet coconut filling that I have completed it with, it’s good enough for home consumption, though not exactly perfect still.

As we proceeded, which we reckon due to evaporation of moisture, the remaining flour was no longer as easy to work on as previously.
The flour becomes drier and the crumbs were becoming oblivious. Well, we reckon that covering the balance flour with a wet cloth or putting it under a steamer should do the trick. But well, we were running short of time to continue further.

Also, steaming should not take more than 5 minutes. Anything more than 5 will render you a kueh texture that is similar to the Malay-style kueh tutu (I forgotten the name for it) and not the chinese kind. The colour will turn a slight yellowish as you will notice that from the picture too.
We understand from some old folks that the kueh tutus sold outside include the addition of some other kinds of flour, other than rice flour, to get that smooth and silky skin that we enjoy. Well, we were still debating whether it should be tapioca flour or not. Anyone aware of this ?With that, our mission ends for the day !


  1. Joyce, I admire your spirit of not giving up till you get it. Kudos to you and Mr. Chunky.

  2. i've never seen or eaten kueh tutu! what a cute name! are those coconut fillings cook with gula melaka? sounds like this is so difficult to handle, you mean the skin is just basically made up of rice flour and water?

  3.  hihi lena, actually this kueh tutu is the chinese version of kueh piring (the malay version kueh tutu) ?? Just that instead of gula melaka, we used grated coconut with orange sugar (the kind we used in putu mayam).. and yes, the skin is basically rice flour and water, probably with a few dashes of salt and sugar, and roasted in pandan leaves !

  4.  thanks veronica !!! Hahaha.. yeah it was such a challenging feat !

  5. I admired your perseverance

  6.  Hahaha.. Thanks Edith ! It was hard work though !

  7. Hello Joyce! I LOVE kueh tutu, they are something i would eat all the time as a child. However, the prices have grown ridiculously high here in Singapore so i stopped buying them:( I tried makng my own twice but both times turned out horrible. Like i won't be able to get fine crumbs, too dry etc.  hahahah i totally admire how you persevered to get a great kueh tutu. Thanks for the inspirations!:D

  8. I love kueh tutu! It's great that you are trying to get this recipe right..ncos those selling outside are getting expensive! Looking forward to your perfect recipe :))

  9. I bought the mould years ago hoping hoping one fine day I will attempt on this as it is my favourite.  But now reading yours post, I am really having second thoughts.  Looks really tedious.

  10. Salute you! keep trying to get perfect..I will rather buy from outside after reading your experiments, not an easy task!

  11. Hmm.. it's really not an easy feat for me… :(

  12. Hihi Edith…. maybe you can try since u have the mould already… perhaps you can get it right ? Sometimes also need a tweak of luck. :)

  13.  hihi honeybeesweets… Hmm.. I having 2nd tots of trying again now.. simply too tedious.. hahaha

  14. hihi simplybakes ! I love these tutus kueh too… it's really a tough task trying to get the right texture, isn't it… :(

  15. Oh no, it’s rice flour and not glutinous rice flour? I asked the tutu Kueh staff at my neighbourhood pasar Malam and he told me it was glutinous rice flour! I think I got cheated. Haha. Would rice flour be easier to sieve through than glutinous rice flour? I had a hard time sieving the glutinous rice flour but after steaming them they became sticky and I wondered what went wrong! I think now I see some hope in making this again. Haha.

  16. Hello, why do some sources say glutinous rice flour? the pasar malam man also told me it’s made with glutinous rice flour. i spent about an hour passing the roasted glutinous rice flour through the sieve and after steaming it became like pek-gu-kueh. haha. so it has to be made with plain rice flour right?

  17. I finally got to try it again, this time with rice flour instead of glutinous rice flour. It seems so much better, at least it didn’t turn out like anggukueh. However, I tried your method of spraying while roasting the flour, and in the end when everything is done, the tutukueh was very dry and flaky. I didn’t know what texture to look out for, so I used just slightly more than 180ml of water.

    Have you tried making again since 2012? Did you measure how much water to use?
    And, sieving the flour is still a necessary step right? Any tip to make it less tedious? Thank you!!!

    • Hihi shuwen, sorry cant advise u much as regret to say i have not tried it again after 2012. The way of spraying n cooking the flour was what i heard from a hawker uncle whos selling the kueh tutu. But as u said, the whole process was quite tedious, and everyone was saying why bother to spend so much time making it when you can easily buy outside so cheaply.. hahaha.. so i was dishearten and never try again ! :(

  18. Hey thanks for replying! yea it’s really tedious but the sense of achievement to successfully do it is really huge! oh so the uncle also has to sieve too? and those people selling at pasar malam? haha just curious!

    • hihi shuwen, never ask uncle about the sieveing part though… his is the traditional kind of hawker.. hahaha.. but i salute ur patience leh… those selling at pasar malam stalls are easier … if i am not wrong, they just buy commercially packed ingredients and steam there only.. there are food companies that provide rental of those tutu carts used at pasar malam and sell you all the pre-packed ingredients..

  19. prepacked! why can’t we get it at supermarkets? hahaha. oh well i didn’t succeed that day cos it really turned out too dry. i’ll probably try it again and if it turns out better i’ll try it again, again. lol. thanks for your guide so far! :D

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