Recently our office held a heritage food event which all employees are encouraged to bring along a dish from their hometown and share the food with the rest of the people. I was really excited for this and I did some brainstorming of what Indonesian dish I could bring – at first I wanted to bring otak-otak fishcake as I bet nobody in the office would’ve guessed what’s inside the banana leaves and I doubt anyone there has ever tried it because no restaurants here sell otak-otak (that I know of).
Unfortunately I didn’t have time to make a trip to the Vietnamese market to get spanish mackerels which are the most crucial element of this dish so I had to make another dish. Chicken satay with peanut sauce would be a great idea as well as everyone loves satay but they would have known what it is. I wanted to bring something that they have never ever tried before so that it’s fun and at the same time it’s good to show off other various kinds of Indonesian food.
I love klepon and used to eat them very often whenever my aunt bought some from the local market. These klepon balls are made from glutinous rice flour mixed with water and stuffed with palm sugar, they are boiled until the palm sugar is melted and the balls are then coated with desiccated coconut so when you bite them the melted sugar would burst out and give you this nice sweet and warm sensation while you chew on the pandan scented glutinous rice and slightly salted desiccated coconut.
They are so good! Thinking about it makes me salivate.
By watching a few Indonesian videos from youtube, I initially thought klepon was easy to make as they don’t require many ingredients and the steps are just making the dough, shape into little balls and stuff them with palm sugar, boil them and just coat with coconut. After my initial try though, I still think they are quite easy BUT don’t ever underestimate them. It’s not too easy that anyone that hasn’t tried it can do it perfectly, because I had a problem as well.
Some of my klepon balls burst in the middle of boiling, when I shaped them with hand the dough looked alright and they didn’t seem to have holes but when I used my slotted spoon to lift them up from the boiling water I could see small holes on some of my balls and the melted sugar started leaking out 🙁 I then fixed this by covering them with desiccated coconut so the hole is not visible anymore. All good.
So here you go, the end result. The reaction from my colleagues was funny, they were not aware of what’s inside and one girl tried to bite half of it and the melted sugar just burst out onto the floor. We had a good laugh. Everyone was asking what’s inside the balls as it tasted like maple syrup and they thought it was a nice surprise.
- 400 gr glutinous rice flour
- 250 gr lukewarm water
- 1 tsp pandan paste or green food colouring
- 2 pandan leaves
- ½ tsp salt
- 300 gr desiccated coconut
- 300 gr palm sugar, roughly chopped
- Mix desiccated coconut, salt and pandan leaves in a bowl and steam for 20 minutes. Remove pandan leaves afterwards and set aside.
- Place glutinous rice flour in a large mixing bowl and add water slowly while kneading with your hands until the dough becomes pliable and not sticky when touched. Take about 1 teaspoon of dough and shape into a ball. Push a finger in the center of the ball to make an indentation and stuff with half teaspoon of palm sugar. Carefully close and roll it back into the ball shape. Place the balls on a plate or tray covered with cling wrap or baking paper to prevent the balls sticking to the plate.
- Bring water to a boil. Put klepon balls into the pan and boil for 3-4 minutes (while swirling the water occasionally to prevent the balls sticking to the bottom of the pan) until they begin to float.
- Transfer klepon balls onto the steamed coconut bowl and coat balls evenly with coconut. Serve while they are still warm. Do not put in the refrigerator as the palm sugar will become hard again.
- To reheat, steam klepon balls for 7-10 minutes.