Steamed Sweet Corn Cake is a type of Kuih or Kueh that is an extensive selection of fine, multi-coloured and flavoursome cakes or sweets that are distinctively Nyonya cuisine. They are normally steamed and occasionally fried or baked. They can be eaten during breakfast, as an afternoon snack or as a dessert. Nyonya or Peranakan cuisine is a fusion of Chinese and Malay cuisines as a result of intermarriages between the Chinese immigrants and the native Malays. These Nyonya kuihs are also popular street food in Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. They are also sold in Asian groceries stores, cafes and Malaysian chain restaurants worldwide. Nyonya kuihs are a good alternative for people on a gluten free diet as they are naturally gluten free. Gluten free flours like rice flour, glutinous rice flour, tapioca flour and mung bean (green pea) flour are typically used to make these kuihs, giving them a custard and pudding like texture. Glutinous rice are also used to make these Nyonya delights. Customary flavouring ingredients are dessicated and shredded coconut, coconut milk or cream, pandan (screwpine) leaves and palm sugar. For my gluten free recipe of this Steamed Sweet Corn Cake, I am using rice flour and tapioca flour, coconut milk and fresh sweet corn kernels as my main ingredients. This is a modern variation of Nyonya kuih that is full of flavour. This recipe is also vegan, soy free, egg free, dairy free, nut free and refined sugar free.
Sweet corns (Zea mays var. saccharata) originated from the Americas and have been a staple food for thousands of years. They are now grown in numerous varieties all over the world with the United States as the biggest producer and exporter. Sweet corns are a result of natural mutations of field corns and they are harvested when immature at milk stage and are eaten as a vegetable. They are normally eaten fresh, frozen or canned as they do not store well due to their maturation process of converting sugar to starch and becoming tough and starchy. Sweet corns are a popular vegetable loved by children and adults as they are naturally sweet tasting. The most popular way of eating them is whole corn on the cob, by grilling them to perfection wrapped in foils on a barbeque and then served with some butter and sprinkle of salt. Alternatively, steaming or boiling them fresh is another well-liked way of eating them and baby sweet corns are frequently used in Chinese stir-fried dishes. They are highly versatile and can be used in soups, salads, baked into pies, cakes and biscuits and even as a topping for pizzas. When choosing fresh sweet corns, select those that have light green and tight husks. The corn kernels should be clean, rounded with fleshy golden silks and exclude old corns that are yellowing and damaged with spots and dark brown silks.
The sweet corns are naturally gluten free, rich in dietary fiber and high in starch, a gradually digestible source of carbohydrates. They are also an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), folate/folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin C, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. In addition, sweet corns are high in antioxidants beta-carotene and lutein, the carotenoids giving vegetables their unique colours. Furthermore, sweet corns have another powerful antioxidant, ferulic acid and cooking them actually boosts the level of ferulic acid. Health benefits of sweet corns include: maintain healthy digestive system and prevent constipation; prevent neural-tube birth defects; lower risks of cancer especially colon cancer; promote healthy cardiovascular system; support healthy skin and hair; reduce bad LDL cholesterol; reduce risks of Alzheimer’s disease and promote healthy vision plus reducing risks of macular degeneration.