Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Seri Muka (Pandan Custard with Sweet Glutinous Rice) Recipe

After many disasters in the kitchen... The PERFECT final product (flavour/texture/presentation et al.)... Phewww~!

If you've seen my recent pictures on Instagram, you'll know that I've made and re-made this classic Malaysian "kuih" or bite-sized treats for 3 times the past 2 weeks. 

So what IS Kuih Seri Muka?

Well, it's basically a two-layered dessert with sweetened glutinous rice at the bottom and pandan custard at the top. The custard tastes almost like "Kaya" (a Malaysian coconut jam) because it's essentially made of pandan, coconut, eggs and sugar. Also known as "kueh salat" or "kuih salat".

I've read at least a dozen recipes on the Internet before finally deciding to combine the recipes by Terri (of Hunger Hunger) and Sonia (of Nasi Lemak Lover). Mainly because Terri's description of the perfect seri muka resonates very much with mine (so I trusted her measurements) and Sonia's method is simple and easy-to-follow. Plus, I've tried countless recipes by these 2 fantastic cooks (all have worked amazingly well) so I knew I could trust their recipes entirely. 

The PERFECT Seri Muka...

I know everyone's got different tastes and preferences, but this is how I like MY Seri Muka to be.

Custard - Surface is super smooth. Custard is soft and just set but still gives you a sharp, clean cut. Most commercial Seri Mukas are chewy and elastic (overladen with tapioca flour). That texture is more meant for "Kuih Lapis" (steamed layer cake).

Rice - Cooked through but not too much so you can still see the individual grains and avoid a lumpy/pasty texture. Just a tad salty to bring out the flavour and counter the sweetness of the custard. 

Personally, I really really prefer not to use any store bought pandan essence/paste and green colouring when making this. Keep it real, people.

Super clean cut and perfect rice/custard... Happy!
(and pls excuse my lame attempt at "food styling" with the trees in the BG)


Unfortunately as usual, I'm super careless/unlucky/noob in the kitchen and have made every single mistake in the book when it comes to making this dessert, my gawd... I've unknowingly tried what happens when you follow a recipe correctly, made it completely wrong and involuntarily tried everything else in between. 

Lots of mistakes that I've had to learn the hard way, which I'll share so hopefully everyone can avoid the nightmares I've had in the kitchen...! 

Taste was nice, but my really ugly first attempt... 
Uneven surface, rough edges after slicing, lumped together rice
Please don't laugh =X

Mistake #1: Custard lumped on the stove from not stirring properly

I had trouble understanding what it meant when the recipe said to "stir until the mixture is shiny and slightly thickens". To me, the use of coconut milk in the mixture already made it thick and glossy, so I wasn't sure what the mixture was meant to look like and doubted myself the whole way. Got impatient and left the pot unattended momentarily.

LESSON: Stir CONSTANTLY until you start feeling more resistance in the mixture from the thickening

Mistake #2: Taking the custard out too early without thickening

As I said, I thought the mixture had thickened already (since it coated the back of the spatula) but turns out that was just the coconut milk. End result: custard barely set at the top and had to pour a lot of it out. FAIL.

LESSON: Stir CONSTANTLY until you will slowly feel more resistance in the mixture from the thickening

Mistake #3: Oversteaming the rice

Rice became so thick, pasty and all lumped together. All the recipes just said "steam for 30 minutes". But how high/low heat? It makes a big difference.

LESSON: Don't steam on high heat.

Mistake #4: Understeaming the rice

Steamed at same length of time but at low heat. Rice was tough and uncooked. Felt alright/el dente when I first took it out but continued to harden as it was cooling down. 

LESSON: Steam on MEDIUM, increase the steaming time and decrease the rice to water ratio

Mistake #5: Couldn't get sharp, clean edges when slicing

LESSON: Remember to OIL the knife first!

Mistake #6: Not using the right tool to blend the pandan leaves

I thought I could use a pestle and mortar to pound the pandan leaves but you'll find it's way too hard to do. Also, should not add all the leaves at once because only the bottom got blended (while the top remains untouched)

LESSON: Use an actual blender (and not pestle/mortar, mini blender like I did) and blend in batches

Mistake #7: Rice to custard ratio was off (too much rice)

LESSON: Decrease amount of rice, maintain same amount of liquid

Mistake #8: Fluffing the rice in between cooking process

Rice was hard to flatten after cooked (because it's so sticky) so my rice layer was uneven no matter how hard I tried.

LESSON: Don't fluff the rice in between. No point.


My goodness it was honestly one nightmare after another... I seriously am no good with desserts. But after much persistence and letting my "kiasu" personality in the kitchen kick in... I've made it! Although I got lots of compliments and people seemed to really enjoy the first 2 batches (I think cause the flavour was spot on), I personally wasn't 100% happy with it until the 3rd and final batch... YAY!

Anyway, these treats really are delicious to eat and something everyone can enjoy. Plus, if you learn from my mistakes and avoid the horrors that I've experienced, you'll find that this recipe is actually very simple to make! And this is coming from a dessert noob... So anyhoo, I do hope you give these a go... Promise you won't regret it! =]


Seri Muka Recipe 
(adapted from these recipes by Hunger Hunger and Nasi Lemak Lover)


Bottom Layer:
400g glutinous rice (soaked overnight, drained)
250ml coconut cream + 250ml water
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 pandan leaves (knotted)

Custard Layer:
3 large eggs
200g caster sugar
400ml coconut cream + 400ml water
100ml pandan water (see recipe below!)
80g tapioca flour
50g plain flour
1 heaped tbsp corn flour

Optional: Few drops of green food colouring (I omitted this because I don't like the stuff)


Bottom Layer:

1. Mix the rice, coconut milk solution, salt in a 24cm springform round pan (or anything of similar size/area).

2. Add the pandan leaves on top. Steam on medium heat for 40 - 45 minutes. Set aside.

Custard Layer:

1. Whisk the eggs and sugar until sugar is dissolved.

2. Add in pandan water, coconut milk solution and (and green colouring if using). Mix well.

3. Sift in flour and whisk till well combined. Strain the mixture and let rest for 10 minutes.

4. Pour mixture into pot and stir constantly under LOW heat with wooden spatula until mixture just thickens. 

You'll know when there's more resistance in the mixture after some time. Don't cook until custard is too thick or texture won't be smooth.

5. Pour mixture over the rice and tap the pan on the surface lightly to release any air bubbles. 

6. Steam for 25 minutes under LOW heat. Make sure small opening for your wok lid is open to release any pent-up steam.

7. Allow to cool for several hours. Oil your knife slightly before cutting up to small rectangular/triangular/diamond shaped pieces. ENJOY =)

See the lumps at the top from not stirring? This is from not watching the pot. Pls ignore.

Just the perfectly smooth, clean surface I was after. Delicious!

How to: Make Pandan Water


12 pandan leaves
100ml water


1. Cut pandan leaves to about 1/2 inch pieces.
2. Blend the pandan and water in 4 batches.
3. Strain the mixture.

No comments :

Post a Comment