Just about anywhere that the coconut plant thrives, one finds the coconut as an important part of the cuisine. Coconut milk and cream, for instance, are found in dishes native to the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, India, some parts of Africa and the Caribbean. And the similarities of some dishes are really uncanny. We have coconut macaroons, the Malays and the Africans have their coconut tarts.
In Penang, in the same stall where I bought the siew pau, I also bought some coconut tarts. Apparently, coconut tarts come in more than one form in Malaysia. Apart from the more traditional type that I enjoyed in Penang, there are round coconut tarts too — balls of coconut and winter melon seeds wrapped in puff pastry. Kinda like the siew pau but with coconut instead of meat filling.