Friday, April 20, 2012

Mungbean & Peanut Filling for Hakka Tea Cakes

Following my post of April 5, 2012 on Hakka (cha-guor) tea cakes I have since tried to make this delicious steamed dessert by myself at home. As you might have guessed I made them with my favourite filling: mungbean* & peanut. Ice had explained me briefly how to make it. But first I had to find:
-          split husked (skinned and halved) mungbean, and
-          banana leaf.

Making cha-guor

Finding split husked mungbeans*:
Ice told me that I might not find split husked mungbeans at the supermarket and need to go to a Chinese grocery store. The first 2 shops I went in did not have it. I was surprised but suspected it was because of my mal-pronunciation. So, I decided to ask Ice again how to pronounce “husked mungbean” and try again another day. I went on and did some shopping at the stalls nearby. However, I really wanted to buy mungbeans on that day so I tried to ask the lady seller who was helping me to choose ripe fruit where to buy husked mungbeans (or hòi-bîn luhk-dauh). I could guess from the expression on her face she did not understand and I was not surprised to hear her say: “I don’t know”. I was about to make my last attempt when the man selling with her repeated what I had just said (but with the proper tone!). The lady’s face immediately lit up with a smile and she kindly proposed to bring me to a shop at the corner of the street. I kindly refused as I did not want to bother her but as she insisted I finally accepted. Not only she accompanied me but she also asked the shopkeeper what I was looking for. I was so happy to have finally found my munbgeans but most of all touched by the kindness of this couple. I am always surprised how nice (most of the) wet markets people are with a gwai-pòh (me). 

Dried split and hòi-bîn luhk-dauh (husked mungbeans)

Note: I bought 1/2 catty for HK$7 at a Chinese grocery store (1015 Canton Road, Mongkok).

Finding banana leaves:
Ices gets banana leaves from her Mum’s garden and was not sure where I could get some. I tried to look around at the wet market and asked at a stall selling medicinal herbs but without any success. They are selling banana flowers, why not banana leaves? Suddenly I knew where to go. Thai people use banana leaf for wrapping food therefore I would find it at a Thai grocery store. Indeed, I found leaves there.

Note: I bought 1 package of banana leaves for HK$6 at a Thai grocery store (Stone Nullah Lane, Wanchai).

After having bought husked mungbeans and banana leaves I was finally able to make my first Hakka tea cakes.

My first batch of Hakka tea cakes

Mashed mung bean, peanut and spring onion filling

Note: Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar and 5 spices powder according to your taste. Ice does this recipe by habit and could not tell me the exact quantity she put.

Here are the ingredients and quantities I used.  

  • 150gr split husked mungbeans
  • 50g peanuts (shells removed and crushed with a mortar and pestle)
  • 2 Tbsp spring onion, chopped
  • Cooking oil
  • Water (as needed)
  • Seasoning: 1 Tbsp salt, 1 tsp ground black pepper, 4-5 Tbsps castor sugar (yes, we need quite a lot to give some flavour to the mungbean), and ½ Tbsp 5 spices powder.

  1. Soak mungbeans in water overnight. Drain and steam for about 30 minutes.
  2. Mash beans with a fork until crumbs are formed.
  3. Heat oil (I used grape seed oil) in a wok.
  4. Stir-fry peanuts until slightly golden, add spring onion and continue stirring for a while
  5. Add mashed mungbean; stir for 2 minutes then add seasoning ingredients with a little bit of water (as needed).
Soaked mungbeans

Spring onion, peanuts and mashed mungbeans

Stir-fried peanuts and spring onion

Note: The filling can be prepared in advance and stored in freezer.

* Mungbeans are also called green gram, golden gram or mung and luhk-dauh in Cantonese  绿豆 (literally means green-bean – see photo.)

Mashed mungbeans and peanuts
My favourite filling!

Uncooked cha-guors
I enjoyed making these steamed cakes. The most difficult part was, as for any kind of dumplings (e.g. Chinese dumplings), to shape the dough into nice bowls and to close the edges nicely. The dough was a bit too thick and I had to steam the cakes for a longer time than those at Ice's home in Tuen Mun last month. Practice makes perfect!  Yet, still yummy! They vanished away in no time at all!


  1. Oh I absolutely love these! I've made a savory version with pork, dried shrimp, pickled turnip, and black eyed peas too. Yours look great!

  2. Thanks ! I love black eyed peas: their smooth and swweet texture. I mainly put them in Chinese soups (with pork and yummy). Must try your savory version next time.