On the Trail of the Phoenix – Kueh Dadar Chelop Kuah Santan
Kueh dadar is one of my favorite kueh, which we enjoyed tremendously as children as I’d mentioned in this post two years back. Known also as kuih ketayap, kuih gulung or kuih lenggang to some Malay communities, it is also a kueh which I revisit very often in my kitchen, sometimes eaten just on its own, or when I’m up for something more elaborated or wish for greater contrariety, a savory kuah santan would be quickly prepared using the leftover coconut milk from the batter to “chelop” the kueh dadar in. If the American kids grew up dunking Oreos in a glass of milk, kueh dadar chelop kuah santan must definitely be part of the wonderful childhood memories Peranakans have collectively.
I made two batches of kueh dadar of late, over a short span of just a couple of days apart, just to try out some ideas to modify my working recipe. Both have their pros and cons, some aspects which I liked and some which I didn’t. The grated coconut filling I had previously made was on the dark side, using all gula melaka. This time round, I replaced some of the dark jaggery with granulated sugar. The inti also has to be well salted to break the monotony of the sweetness. This added complexity made the flavour profile must more interesting.
Next, I also played a bit with the proportions of the skin batter, switching from just using storebought bottled pandan extract to all freshly blended and extracted pandan juice, while another batch was made with daon pandan serani added as well. The one with all pandan juice was used on the spot after squeezing it off the pulp but the batch which added pandan serani was left overnight for the chlorophyll to concentrate and settle at the bottom. The results were quite obvious, producing skins of vastly different shades of green. The one with all pandan wangi leaves offered a lightly refreshing lime green while the one with the daon pandan serani asdded was much much more intense and dark. Both al naturale and lovely but my preference is the one which is lighter and more aromatic from the use of freshly prepared pandan juice. Given that daon pandan serani was merely used to intensify the colours and offers no help in the aromatics, I would use all pandan leaves for my kueh dadar next time.
The batter for both attempts were more or less the same, with part of the coconut milk in my working recipe replaced by pandan juice and both of them produced skins which give traditional kueh dadar that “bopeng” effect. Kueh dadar with smooth skins are frowned upon as not quite the real deal. It is not just purely aesthetics we are talking about here, but having that undulated pockmarked surface actually helps the kuah santan to adhere better as we chelop the kueh into it.
I also took the opportunity to test out two different types of types of coconut frond sap sugar I have at hand. The lighter shade inti was made with gula melaka I’d bought fairly recently from Malacca Sentral, which the seller said was produced locally from Alor Gajah, which was just a short 20-30 min drive away. The darker ones were “Gula Jawa” gifted by a friend Anna who bought it during her trip to Bali. Apart from the colour, the taste was also noticeably different, the former having an assertive aroma but not as sweet while the latter has a smokey fragrance to it, and also markedly sweeter. Both have their strong points…
This is the kueh dadar made with daon pandan serani added into the pandan juice, which resulted in a darker and somewhat more emerald-like colour.
Kueh Dadar Recipe (makes 12-14 rolls) adapted from here
Inti (Filling) Ingredients
2 cups freshly grated coconut (about 280-300g)
150 g chopped gula melaka, depending on the grade and quality of gula melaka used
30g granulated sugar
3-5 tbsp water
pinch of salt
2-3 pandan leaves, rinsed and tied into a knot
To cook the inti, first dissolve chopped gula melaka into water together with salt and pandan leaves in a small saucepan over a medium-low flame.
As the gula melaka syrup thickens, add salt and stir. Strain the syrup with a fine-wired sieve and discard the residue. Return the syrup back into the pot and add the grated coconut. Stir until all the grated coconut is uniformly coated with the dark treacle like syrup.
Continue to heat until the mixture there is no more excess moisture.
Take off heat and set aside to cool down.
Kulit (Skin Wrap) Ingredients
200g plain flour
200g fresh coconut milk
200g concentrated pandan juice (blended with 200g water with 15-20 pieces of large pandan leaves)
1 medium egg
A generous pinch of salt
3 tbsp cooking oil
Kuah Santan (Coconut Milk Dipping Sauce) Ingredients
1 cup of fresh coconut milk
a generous pinch of salt
2-3 pandan leaves, tied into a knot
2 tbsp plain flour with 5 tbsp water to form a thin slurry
To prepare the skin wrap add flour, salt into a mixing bowl and coconut milk and mix well.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until a thin batter is obtained. Adjust the consistency of the batter with more flour or water/coconut milk.
Strain the mixture over a fine sieve to remove any flour lumps or unbeaten egg white.
For details on the required batter consistency, please watch the video here.
To prepare the skin wrap, heat a medium sized non-stick pan over a medium-low flame.
Using a piece of kitchen napkin, smear a small amount of oil over the pan to grease it thinly
Lift the pan off the stove and tilt it to face the hand holding the ladle of batter.
As the batter is poured into the centre of the pan, begin to swirl the batter around to coat the entire base surface with a thin layer.
For details on the cooking and “lenggang” process, please watch the video here.
Leave the batter to cook slowly until the bottom side is able to slide around the pan with ease.
Flip the skin wrap and cook for another 10-15 seconds or so before removing and cooling off over a greased aluminium tin surface.
Repeat to prepare more skin wraps with the remaining batter, remembering to stir the batter a little to homogenize it, preventing the flour from settling at the bottom.
For details on the flipping and cooling process, please watch the video here.
Once the skin cools down slightly and becomes manageable to be handled with bare hands, it is ready to be wrapped.
Place a place of skin wrap on a flat surface with the smooth side facing upwards.
Add approximately 2 tbsp of inti onto the skin wrap nearer to you.
Fold the left and right sides of the skin bringing them towards the centre. Lift up the end nearer to you, rolling it over the filling and previously folded sides. Continue to roll away from you, maintaining a bit of pressure on the skin and filling to ensure that everything is well secured.
Repeat the process until all the skin wrap and filling are used up.
For details on the wrapping process, please watch the video here.
To make the “kuah santan” coconut milk sauce, simply place coconut milk, salt and pandan leaves in a saucepot.
Heat the mixture over medium flame until small bubbles begin to form on the sides of the pot.
Add the flour mixture and stir continuously until the consistency begins to thicken.
Turn off the flame and remove the pandan leaves.
Serve with the prepared kueh dadar as a dipping sauce.