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“Want to try?” Aunty N. handed me what looked like a snowy white, pillowy soft muffin. She, who is Singaporean of Indian descent, said “We call it ‘Chinese appam.'” It looked like a steamed bao and tasted like one, too. It was very unlike the appams with which I am familiar.
What was this delicious thing? Google didn’t turn up any results for “Chinese appam.” So, I turned to Twitter. “Ever heard of ‘Chinese appam’? Basically, Cantonese steamed bun w/ orange sugar, coconut. Heard can be found at night market out West. #SG,” I tweeted.
“It’s wah ko kueh,” replied @heavenwildfleur. “We call it appam makokeh in Malay,” added @ovenhaven. “It’s one of my childhood favorites.” (It’s also known as fatt koh in Cantonese, huat kueh in Hokkien, and Prosperity Cake in English.)
These fermented rice cakes are used as offerings on important days in the Chinese calendar such as the fourth day (when the Kitchen God returns from Heaven) and ninth day (the birthday of the Jade Emporer) of the Lunar New Year.
More importantly, I learned that I don’t have to trek west to get my “Chinese appam” fix. They are available at Galicier Confectionery in Serangoon Central and Tiong Bahru. Guess where I’ll be bright and early tomorrow morning?