Yam Cake (Woo Tow Koe)

Mom’s Chili Tau Chu Crabs
August 28, 2006
Penang Char Koay Teow (Flat Rice Noodles)
September 6, 2006

Yam Cake, a popular local savoury kuih ‘snack’ made from cubed yam steamed with rice flour is a favourite in many local homes. The truth is, it is so popular that you can get it just almost anywhere from a little stall on a busy street to a cafe in an elegant shopping mall. Moreover, it can be eaten as breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or even supper.

Making a yam cake is actually not difficult at all, just a few simple steps to follow.


1 small yam (rinsed, skin peeled and cubed)
3 shallots (sliced finely)
2 Tbsp dried shrimps (washed, soaked in hot water to soften, slightly pounded with a mortar and pestle)

100 gm rice flour
3 Tbsp tapioca flour
550 ml filtered water
sea salt
1 tsp five spice powder
white pepper


  1. Steam cube yam for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Heat wok, drizzle in some oil, stir-fry shallots till slightly brown. Add in the cube yam, salt, five spice powder, pepper and stir for approximately 2 minutes.
  3. Combine rice flour, tapioca flour, salt and filtered water in a saucepan until mixture is smooth (lumps free), place over low heat, stirring continuously with a fork until it thickens like light custard.
  4. Remove saucepan from heat and add in all the yam, mix evenly.
  5. Transfer yam mixture into a 20 cm square cake tin and steam for 25 minutes.
  6. Leave to cool and garnish with chopped spring onions, chili and crispy fried shallots (as preferred).
  7. Served with sweet chili sauce of your choice.

Note : Most yam cake recipes call for alkaline water which give this dish a gelatin texture but I have omitted it altogether. Instead, I keep my yam cake cling wrapped overnight in the refrigerator to firm up the texture. As for the tapioca flour (tapioca starch), it gives the dish an attractive glistening look.


  1. boo_licious says:

    Yum! Tummy rumbling already this early morning.

  2. babe_kl says:

    my mom made this pretty often that’s why din bothered to cook :p my mom doesnt need alkali water either and its pretty firm.

  3. Audrey Cooks says:

    Boo… this is my local version of light cheesecake, however much still can finish lor!

    You’re right babe! my mom used to make this so often until I didn’t think twice how its made.

    Edith … makan makan makan!!!

  4. rokh says:

    aiyoyo, this is one of my favourite. i love the one my dad’s friend use to make and gave to our family. i like them along with the Taiping chee cheong fun too

  5. rayhana lisa says:

    hi there audrey,

    do we really have to use filtered water? what does it do?
    can we just substitute with normal water? :p
    perhaps stupid question, but i really do not know!

  6. Audrey Cooks says:

    Hi Rayhana, filtered water is just normal tap water run thro the filteration system to rid chlorine, lead, microscopic germs, bacteria etc. Yes, u may use normal water.

  7. Nan in Indonesia says:

    Are alkali water / air abu / lye water the same thing ? Is there a substitute for alkali water in the yam cake recipe ?

  8. Audrey Cooks says:

    Hi Nan! They are all the same thing. I don’t substitute, just chill it, gives me the same effect.

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