Cheap & Good

Cheap & Good: Going nuts over kueh and baklava at Kokee Delights

Kokee Delights' baklava are lightly sweetened and contain no flour, butter or eggs.
Kokee Delights' baklava are lightly sweetened and contain no flour, butter or eggs.ST PHOTO: TAN KENG YAO

I am very much not a morning person, so when I set my alarm for 9.30am - on a Sunday, mind you - to buy some salty mung bean ang ku kueh, you have to know they are the real deal.

The kueh is from a pop-up stall, Kokee Delights, at a mall near my home, and it was love at first bite.

The plump little ang ku kueh ($5 for five) are stuffed with a paste that is smooth, just the right amount of moist, and fragrant from the addition of fried onions. And the skin of the kueh, made from sweet potato flour, is taut, bouncy and shiny.

Biting through the tender skin to get a mouthful of fragrant, salty-sweet filling is a good feeling indeed.

When kueh is this good, it calls for a repeat visit to the stall. To my dismay, when I went at 11am a few days later, it was sold out.

Only a limited quantity is handmade each day and, as behavioural economists know, scarcity creates desire. Which was how I found myself setting an early-morning alarm so I could be there when the stall opened.

  • KOKEE DELIGHTS

  • Pop-up stalls at Compass One, 1 Sengkang Square, until today; Singapore Expo, 1 Expo Drive, from Thursday to Sept 2; and Century Square, 2 Tampines Central 5, from Friday to Sept 2; open: 10am to about 8.30pm daily; info: call or WhatsApp 9189-9270 for details of other upcoming pop-up stalls. It will be opening a shop at Bukit Timah Plaza next month, which will also sell vegetarian cooked food.

    Rating: 4/5

The stall also sells ang ku kueh stuffed with sweet mung bean, coconut or green-tea fillings ($5 for five), which are good too, although I still lean towards the savoury ones because the mix of sweet and salty makes for a more complex flavour.

While loitering around the stall caressing the boxes of kueh, its other product, nutty baklava, caught my eye.

These baklava are made of nuts, grains, seeds and other crunchy things like puffed rice, which are pressed into slabs, then cut into handy squares.

Flavours include walnut, almond, cashew nut, dried lotus seed and pumpkin seed. (Prices start at $3.50 for 100g and go up to $20 for 750g. It also sells a box of five flavours for $20.)

Right, so these things look very healthy. Too healthy, in fact, to possibly taste good.

But pop a square in your mouth and you will understand why you should never judge a book (or a nut square) by its cover.

If you like crunchy, nutty stuff like trail mix (I do), this is for you. My favourite is the one made of almond, which has a nice toasty flavour helped along by the black and white sesame seeds it is flecked with. I also fancy the assertive flavour of the walnut baklava.

But what I really like about these nut squares is that they are lightly sweetened and contain no flour, butter or eggs, which makes them vegan.

Which also makes them guilt-free snacks, I hope? Please say yes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 26, 2018, with the headline 'Going nuts over baklava'. Print Edition | Subscribe