Ground pork and chopped vegetables are wrapped in bean curd sheets, steamed, cooled and fried to make kikiam (que-kiam).
It’s Chinese in origin but, like most Chinese dishes that immigrants brought with them, adaptations vary. I cooked my first que-kiam back in 2004 when I discovered fresh bean curd sheets in a store located smack in a computer shop district. I did post the recipe but the photo was not too good.
So, here I am 14 years later, updating my que-kiam recipe to include step-by-step photos.
Start by mixing the filling. Ground pork, chopped mushrooms, carrot and onion, a bit of minced garlic and ginger, Chinese five-spice powder, black pepper and, to bind them together, cornstarch dispersed in water. To simplify everything, I mixed the brown sugar, salt and pepper in the starch solution to make sure that the sugar and salt were fully dissolved.
I took a little filling, formed it into a ball and fried it to check if the seasonings were well balanced. It turned out my filling needed a lot more salt and a little more Chinese five-spice powder.
I made another little meat ball after re-mixing the filling, fried it again and, satisfied with the taste, I proceeded to the next step.
I soaked the bean curd sheets in water to soften them and make them pliable. I drained the sheets and used them to wrap the filling.
It’s like making spring rolls, really, except you’re forming larger logs. And handling can be a bit more tricky because the bean curd sheets are moist.
You can make a paste by cooking starch and water together and use it to seal the uncooked que-kiam. But I find this step necessary only if frying the que-kiam directly. Yes, you can fry the que-kiam at this stage but only if they’re thin and narrow — like an inch thick.
If your que-kiam are thicker than that (mine were over two inches thick), it is a better idea to steam them first. If you fry thick que-kiam without steaming, the bean curd wrapper might get too brown before the filling is cooked through. Steaming ensures that the filling is cooked all the way to the innermost part.
After steaming, the bean curd will be tightly wound around the filling even if you didn’t seal it with a paste.
Cool the que-kiam thoroughly before frying.
When you fry the que-kiam, remember that bean curd sheets burn fast. Fry slowly in plenty of oil on medium-low heat. This is not stir frying which requires the oil to be smoking hot.
Scoop the que-kiam from the oil, cool and bit and slice before serving.
For the filling
- 1 kilo ground pork
- 150 grams chopped shrimps (skip if allergic to shrimps)
- 1 small carrot finely chopped
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 4 to 6 Chinese black mushrooms (caps only), chopped
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons corn starch dispersed in 2 tablespoons of water
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
To complete the dish
- 7 bean curd sheets each measuring 12 inches square or larger
- cooking oil for frying
- In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients for the filling. Set aside.
- Soak the bean curd sheets in water for five minutes. Drain well.
- Divide the filling into seven equal portions.
- Lay a bean curd sheet flat and spread one portion of the filling in the center. Wrap the filling with the bean curd sheet as though making a spring roll (see visual guide).
- Repeat until you have used all the filling and bean curd sheets.
- Arrange the que-kiam in a steamer basket. Steam for 45 minutes (it won't hurt to steam them a little longer).
- Cool the steamed que-kiam to cool temperature.
- Heat at least two inches of oil in a frying pan.
- Fry the cooled steamed que-kiam over medium-low heat until the bean curd wrapper is golden and crisp.
- Cool the fried que-kiam slightly before slicing.
- Serve the que-kiam with sweet chili sauce for dipping. It's great as a finger food or as a main dish.
If you cooked this dish (or made this drink) and you want to share your masterpiece, please use your own photos and write the cooking steps in your own words.