Making Nonya Kueh is not a typical career path most Singaporean men would take fresh out of National Service.
Most of us would dream of being teachers, doctors, engineers but this 23 year old decided to take on a whole new challenge and sell Nonya Kueh using his Ah Mah’s recipes.
Meet Keith Su, a 23 year old whose love for kueh spurred him to take his fondness for pastries a step further – by making them from his kitchen and selling them on Instagram (@ahmahzingsg).[caption id="attachment_36044" align="aligncenter" width="1352"] Image Credit: @ahmahzingsg[/caption]
Exploring Traditional Food With Ah Mah
Operating out of his kitchen in his family flat in Ang Mo Kio, Keith started taking in orders in April 2018, selling nonya treats like Kueh Salat and Kueh Bingka Ubi via Ahmahzing‘s Instagram Account.
The name is a play on the words ‘ah mah’ (meaning grandma, in hokkien) and ‘amazing’.
“I wanted a name that reflects the concept of heritage and tradition,” he shares. Which led him to to think about his grandparents and that his happiest childhood memories stem from being pampered by ah mah.[caption id="attachment_36045" align="aligncenter" width="1346"] Image Credit: Keith Su[/caption]
“While I was serving National Service, I spent my free time visiting public libraries and borrowing cookbooks,” he added.
He would study the recipes and experimented with them until he got it right.
“The Kueh Salat took me about four attempts before I actually got it right and when I did, the feeling of satisfaction was indescribable,” he quipped. His first successful attempt at making the technically-challenging Kueh Salat, spurred him on to try other recipes, building up his repertoire, one kueh at a time.[caption id="attachment_36046" align="aligncenter" width="1722"] Image Credit: @ahmahzingsg[/caption]
It wasn’t just the positive comments he received that spurred him on, it was his personal interest and love for kueh that motivated him to do better.
While most millennials would prefer a sugar-packed cupcake to a more traditional Ang Ku Kueh, Keith believes that kueh is something that we are all familiar or grew up with, and hence we will crave for it from time to time. It is this symbolic value about kueh that makes it more than just a commoditised product.[caption id="attachment_36047" align="aligncenter" width="1344"] Image Credit: @ahmahzingsg[/caption]
One of the best-tasting kueh in his arsenal would definitely be the Ang Ku Kueh. The chewy red skin is made from sweet potato which he boils and then mashes before adding coconut milk and oil to get that supple, chewy texture. Tucked within is generous filling of mung beans.
Keith also recently started selling Soon Kueh which took a lot of trial and error to get the right texture and thickness of the skin. He shared that the Soon Kueh requires a lot of effort from start to finish: from slicing the turnip into thin strips, to rolling out the dough and stuffing them into dumplings. Lots of attention to detail is required to ensure that the dumplings are not overstuffed or else they will split open while steaming.[caption id="attachment_36048" align="aligncenter" width="1940"] Image Credit: @ahmahzingsg[/caption]
Always on the adventure to explore other kinds of Kueh, Keith expressed that his current interest is in Teochew Kueh. He is also intrigued by the Hainanese Yi Buah, which is less commonly known. He also plans on doing more pop-ups and looking at more locations to set up shop. Who knows, Ahmahzing might just set up shop at a neighbourhood near you.[caption id="attachment_36052" align="aligncenter" width="1340"] Image Credit: @ahmahzingsg[/caption]
“Kueh is more than just a snack; it is part of our childhood and unique to our local culture,” he added.
I mean, let’s be real. Most of us would rather eat a real good Kueh Salat over a lemon meringue tart any day.
Interested in Keith’s homemade Nonya Kueh? Check out Ahmahzing’s Instagram page and maybe order a few for your Ah Mah to try!
(Header Image Source: @ahmahzingsg)