Steamed Rice Cakes (Pak Thong Koh)

I know Ben. When he was in Malaysia he, without fail, will go look for recipe books to bring home … and for me to COOK! He always does that and I hate that because it adds so much pressure to me to make them. He thinks that I can make anything … oh yeah! oh sure!

So, I had no choice because he had been placing his “present” for me on my bedside table. I know it’s his subtle way to let me know that it’s there. So, I am forced to make just one item just to placate him. I made the Pak Thong Koh (Steamed Rice Cake). This is quite common in Chinatown and chinese bakeries like T&T and Maxim’s.

Pak Thong Koh is a sweet rice cake with a tangy flavour from the yeast action. It has a very unique springy texture. It is not overly sweet, just a hint of sweetness. Great for kids too because it does not leave a mess at all.

Making this is quite easy with very simple steps. However, it takes a lot of time because it takes 6-8 hours waiting for the yeast to make it rise.


The Pak Thong Koh turned out OK taste wise but I just could not make it as white as snow. The ones that I bought from the bakeries is really white. Do you have a tip on how to make it that white?


(1) Syrup

  • 300g sugar
  • 300ml water
  • 3 screwpine leaves (Pandan)

For the Batter:


  • 300g rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 250ml water


  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1/8 teaspoon lye water (alkaline)

Click on the link below for the instructions.


IMG_0614_edited-1Combine ingredients (2), stir well to form a batter and set aside.
IMG_0616_edited-1Boil ingredients (1) in a pot until the sugar is dissolved to from a syrup. Discard screwpine leaves and bring the syrup to a boil.
IMG_0617_edited-1I do not have instant yeast on hand, so I used active dry yeast instead. I dissolved the yeast with 1 tablespoon of warm water.
IMG_0618_edited-1Pour the boiling syrup into the batter to half-cook the batter. Let cool. Add instant yeast to the batter and mix well. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside for 6 to 8 hours for the batter to rise.
IMG_0619_edited-1Add lye water and mix well. Pour the batter into a tray and steam over high heat for 45 minutes or until cooked.

Remove, let cool, cut into pieces and serve.

If you like this Pak Thong Koh, I recommend you also check out this version of Steamed Rice Cake and Steamed Red Bean Rice Cake (Poot Jei Goa).

86 thoughts on “Steamed Rice Cakes (Pak Thong Koh)

  1. ‘tung mien fun’

    Was once at a supermarket and asked manager if they have tapioca flour
    and she replied ‘you mean teng mien fun?’ maybe she’s right.

    Lye water is diluted sodium hydroxide- an alkal1- not sure I want to
    consume too much of that.

  2. Just wondering, I have made the same Pak Thong, following all the instruction, but mine turned out quite dense? Is there a way to make it spongy like the ones we can buy?

  3. Hi, this looks like a great recipe to try. Can you advise if the measurements for the yeast, cornflour and lye water are in metric (as we use this measurement unit system in Australia and the UK) or is it in (US) which I think is imperial. Your advice is really appreciated. Regards Yvonne.

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  5. This seems to be a popular post!

    I tried your recipe earlier this week and totally forgot to add the acid (I intended to use cream of tartar). It did still rise during cooking (my whole steamer was crooked, so it was fatter on one side and flat on the other!) and the taste was delicious.

    I used to go to one particular Chinese buffet in Ottawa (Canada) just for this cake! My mom (who is Chinese) says she’s tried to make this before, but it never worked. Before this week, it had been years since I’d had this.

    I’m going to try it again without omitting the cream of tartar this time(!), and maybe add vinegar to the water, too, as suggested by some of your commenters, though the colour doesn’t disappoint me. (It was decently white, IMO.) I think I will reduce the sugar a wee bit, too, as we found it to be a little on the sweet side for our taste. But otherwise, very successful.

    Many thanks for the great recipe, which satisfies a long-standing craving.

    • Hi Victoria, I’m not sure if you can replaced the yeast with baking powder. The risen batter has that yeasty aroma and bubbly texture to it which I dont think baking powder will yield the same effect.

    • Hi Marivic, I steamed mine with a glass plate which is quite big (much bigger than a pie plate). If you dont a suitable size plate, perhaps divide into two pie plate to steam, if you can stack your steamer.

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  8. Hiya guys,

    Just wondering if you could help me out.. I’m looking for a recipe quite similar to the steamed rice cakes – they’re called or pronounced ‘hey (hay) barn’ and are traditionally made by the old grannies in the old school markets in Hong Kong or Malaysia…. If anyone also has the recipes for ‘bwut che go’ or ‘char gor’ I would be eternally grateful!! It’s the disadvantage of being a BBC – going to lose family recipes forever unless I get my act sorted!! Cheers


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