Red turtle/tortoise cakes are small round or oval, chewy but soft and tender at the same time. Its is designed as turtle shell shape and a symbol of longevity, luck, etc. This tiny cake is very popular as a snack as well as ritual offerings when I was living in Vietnam over twenty years now. Adapted from. I am very impressed how precise this recipe is. If you do not have a mold, just make round balls and press down gently on a pieces of banana leaf. I did not have any turtle shell mold so will update the real look later. The green color is from panda leaves or food color. Red food colors is used in making red turtle cakes. 1 litter water (1000cc) roughly weights 1 kg (1000g) I did not have precise measurements so I just weight water too.
This recipe make 21 mini cakes (2x2x0.5 inches/ 5x5x1 cm mold) if your mold bigger or smaller adjust your portion.
150 g glutinous rice flour(sticky rice flour)
125 g water
60 g canned coconut milk or concentrated fresh coconut milk
2¼ tsp regular rice flour
100 g cooked jam or sweet potato (about 110 g peeled, raw sweet potato)
60 g panda leaves, washed and coarsely chopped or green/red food color
1 Tbp peanut oil
2 tsp sugar
21 pieces of banana leaf (2.5 x2.5 inches/6.5×6.5 cm), washed, wipe
Extra oil for the mold, sticking prevention and finishing
Mung bean filling:
160 g skinless dried mung bean
480g water for soaking, 1-2 hours
180g water, for cooking bean
115 g sugar
3 Tbs peanut oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Use 2/3 of coconut filling in
- Mix glutinous rice flour with water, cover, chill overnight in the fridge or at least 2 hour.
- Soaked mung beans in warm water 1-2 hours.
- Cook sweet potato in microwave or slice in 1/2 cm thick and cook in 120 g water until soft. Weight and keep 100g , save the rest for other use. Blend panda leaves with coconut milk in a blender or handheld blender. Strain and weight again need 60 g mixture, add more coconut milk if needed. Mix rice flour, sugar, oil with coconut milk mixture and cook over medium high heat until transparent. Remove from heat. Stir in sweet potato until smooth. Stir in glutinous rice flour. Mix until incoroporated. Add food color if using at the time. Color will be darker when being cooked. Set aside.
- Rinse soaked mung beans a few times to remove yellow color. Cook in 180 g water, uncover over medium high heat until most of the water evaporated and below or at the beans’ surface. Turn down to medium low, cover and cook until soft, tender about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, use a hard spatula or back of a spoon, mash the bean against the side. Stir in sugar and blend until smooth with a blender (optional). Return the pot to medium heat and stir constantly until the mixture thicken and holding shape. Remove from heat, divided into 21 balls (about 20 g each).
- Divide the dough into 21 pieces too (about 20 g each). Put one piece of dough in your palm, move your hands around and making the dough into a ball. Flattening it with your fingers (about 1/8-inch thick). Put a piece of filling in the center and try to wrap the dough around the filling. Move your hands to smooth again.
- Brush the mold with oil/plastic or flour/wooden . Dip the ball bottom to the oil. Put it into your palm and turn it around to redistribute the oil evenly around it. Press it down into the mold gently and turn the mold upside down on a piece of banana leaf. If the mold has a removable bottom, remove the bottom and gently push the side down to release the cake. If it is 1 piece mold, keep it at an low angle and tap the far end down to the surface onto a banana leave. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
- Bring a steamer with 1-1.5 inches water deep to a rolling boil. Put cakes in about 1 inch apart, cover. Lower the heat down to medium low to simmering. Lift the lit up every 3-4 minutes to release steam and preserve details. Steaming time about 6-12 minutes for each batch. depending on how hot steam and steamer style. Check by cutting or poking the skin, if it is transparent, it is done. If the dough still has some opaque look, continue steaming a few more minutes. Remove cooked cakes from steamer and brush a thin layer of peanut oil on top to keep them moist and shiny. Keep leftover cakes in an airtight container in the fridge and warm them up in microwave or steamer.