Traditional Hakka Wormwood Kueh

I was introduced to this by my mum recently and me and my sister really adore it. The main ingredient of this kueh is the Chinese herb wormwood which is also known as the mugwort. The herb is widely used in TCM during acupuncture and moxibustion. The herb taste slightly bitter and the smell is very intense. The herb is known for its properties to improve blood circulation as well as promote healthy metabolism. The plant also has many cancer preventive properties and is often used as a cure for many ailments in TCM treatments.

One interesting fact is that in olden times, people believed that the herb has strong yang energy and can be used to keep the evil at bay so many people used to hang the herb at the front of their door.

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Today, we will use this herb and make a savoury kueh which is invented by the Hakkas. There is hardly any shops that sell this outside except for traditional Hakka restaurants. We make this quite often as it is quite effective in easing headache and migraines. It is quite difficult to buy the herb. Today, only certain wet markets sell them. We bought them at Chinatown market at 100 grams for $1. We need 600 grams for this recipe. The preparation of the herb takes some time as you have to remove all the leaves from the stalk and only keep the green and fresh leaves.


The other ingredients needed is 600 grams of glutinous rice flour, 150 grams of sweet turnips and 200 grams of dried shrimps.

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After soaking and cleaning the leaves, you have to chop them up into fine pieces. I did this using a food processor. The dried shrimps will have to be soaked and chopped up as well. For the sweet turnips, just soak them for a minute before draining out the water.

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Heat up your wok / pan with 2 table-spoon of oil. Pour in the wormwood and stir fry them till the leaves turn dark green. Add in 6 tablespoon of sugar and 4 tablespoon of water and fry the leaves till they are cooked. Put them aside to cool.

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Now to prepare the fillings. Fry 2 teaspoon of minced garlic with 2 tablespoon of oil till golden brown. Pour in the chopped dried shrimp and sweet turnip. Fry the ingredients till they are dry and the dried shrimp gives out a strong fragrance. Scoop the filling out to cool.

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To prepare the skin of the kueh, mix the glutinous rice flour with the fried wormwood. Add in approximately 500 ml of water to make sure the mixture forms a non sticky dough. The dough needs to be soft to the touch and do not stick to the bowl or your hands. If it is too sticky, you can add in more flour bit by bit to get the correct consistency. If the dough cracks when you try to wrap the fillings, it is too dry, add water slowly to get the right consistency.

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You are now ready to start wrapping the kueh. You can take a small ball sized of dough and flatten it with your fingers, next put in 1 spoon of fillings and wrap up the ball and make sure that all the filling is covered. You can place the ready balls onto square banana leaves. We used banana leaves as the base as it does not stick onto the kueh and is a very pretty presentation. You can buy banana leaves from the market or supermarket.

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You can put the kueh to steam for 15 – 20 mins. Once the skin turns slightly transparent they are ready. Remember to only put in the kueh to steam when the water has boiled.


When the kueh has cooled down, the skin will turn olive-green colour. You can keep them in the fridge for many days and steam them again before consumption.

Recap Ingredients: (makes 40 pieces)

  • 600 grams glutinous rice flour
  • 600 grams of wormwood
  • 150 grams sweet turnips
  • 200 grams of dried shrimps
  • 6 tablespoon of sugar
  • 4 tablespoon of oil
  • 2 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 500 ml of water
  • Banana leaves ( approximately 30cm by 20 cm cut into squares )

Author: elizbeartravel

A human bear who loves travelling, eating and cooking

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