Thursday, February 3, 2011

Asian Delicacy- Tau Sar Pneah

This is going to be a long winded post. Read on, only if you are a fan of Tau Sar Pneah. If you don't even know what this is, then move on to the other post. It will be a waste of your time to read this entire blog.

When I was growing up in Malaysia, Tau Sar Pneah is a special treat, mainly because at the time this delicacy can only be found in the northern state of Malaysia, namely Penang, the island of great food and heaven for gluttons. A few times a year whenever a family member or a friend who will travel to Penang for business or leisure, Tau Sar Pneah will be the priced souvenir.

Perhaps it is the flaky layers of its pastry, maybe that tasty mung bean filling or just maybe one always want what she can't have, the lure of Tau Sar Pneah in those days was powerful. Never in my wildest imagination that someday when I grew up, I will be making these babies at home. Yeah, the impression has always been that only the skilled bakers from the two famous Tau Sar Pneah place in Penang have the secret recipe to these tasty morsels. So, you can imagine my joy and excitement when I found this recipe online from my cooking guru-Aunt Lily of the famous blog- lily wai sek hong

Needless to say, curiosity got the better part of me and some brain cells chant endlessly in my head "Make this you must!" (Okay, I ripped this off Yoda!)

The process of making this Tau Sar Pneah is really tedious and not for the faint of heart. Sure, after reading the 3 steps procedures, you may want to say let's just buy this somewhere. Let me assure you, the end result is really rewarding.

On to Step 1 of the 3 part procedures. First, you have to make the filing. This is the easy part, sort of.

Soak the mung beans for 2-3 hours in cold water. Rinsed and placed in a steamer. Steam for 15-20 mins on high heat till it is soft. Mashed and add in sugar & salt. Place aside. Next, fry some shallots in oil. Remove the shallots for use later.

Over low heat, stir fry the mung beans until it is dry and you can easily shape it into a ball. This will take approximately 20 mins.

Roll them out into 30 portions.

Step 2: Tackle the dough. The recipe calls for an oil dough and a water dough. Like most Chinese pastry recipes, the oil and water dough method ensure flakiness of pastry.

Dough A-Oil Dough which consist of only flour and shortening
Shape it into a tight ball.
Wrap in plastic and let it rest for 30 mins. Label it as A. There is a method to this whole madness. Repeat the same process with the water dough, B.

Once both dough has been rested for 30 mins on the counter, you can now start the assembly process.
Divide both dough into 30 equal portions. Just eye ball them.
Flatten dough B, the water dough. Wrap around the oil dough, A. Next you will flatten it out with the palm of your hand on the counter and roll it out in a rectangle. Fold in thirds, and roll it out into a rectangle again. Next, roll it up like a swiss roll. Move it 90 degree, so the tall side is up. Flatten it into a ball with your palm and roll it out into a circle, about 4 inch in diameter. Wrap a mung bean filling in the middle and crimp the base to seal. Brush top with egg yolk and sprinkle on some sesame seeds. Bake for 20 mins and Voila!

Tau Sar Pneah
(Adapted from Lily Wai Sek Hong)


Dough A:
240 g flour
120 g shortening

Dough B:
240 g all-purpose flour
60 g confectioner's sugar
60 g shortening
120 ml water

Filling (sweet):

1 1/2 cup peeled mung beans (soak for 2-3 hrs, steamed and mashed/blended)
6 tbsp cooking oil
4 level tbsp shallot, sliced thinly
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt


Combine sugar, salt, and mashed beans in a large bowl. Mix well.

Heat oil in wok or pan. Stir-fry the shallots till fragrant and lightly browned, removed fried shallot and set aside for later use. Add bean mixture, stir-fry on low heat till it becomes dry and able to form a ball.
Remove from heat and stir in fried shallots. Cool completely, divide and shape filling into 30 equal portions.


Preparation for dough A and B is done separately and the same method applies.
Bring together all ingredients for each dough, mix well and knead to form soft dough.
Cover and let them stand for 30 minutes.
Divide and shape each dough into 30 equal portion balls.

Wrap dough B around dough A.
Roll it out as thin and rectangular in shape as possible. Fold the sides in making 3 layers.
Repeat the rolling and folding again.
Roll it out into 10 cm/4 inch diameter circle and wet the surface of circle.
Place the filling at the center. and ring all edges together, pinch to seal.

Egg wash and sprinkle some sesame seeds on the top if desired.

Baked Tau Sar Paeng:
Preheat oven at 180 degree C/375 degree F and bake for 20 minutes till golden brown.

(Note: If you are not health conscious, I find that using pure pork fat is the key to achieving the traditional tau sar pneah taste. Simply melt some pork fat in a pan to get 6 tablespoon of oil and substitute the oil with the pork fat lard. Let the tau sar pneah cool completely before serving. The filing may be a little wet when it comes out of the oven. As it sits, the water will evaporate, giving you the right texture of tau sar pneah filing.)


  1. You have SOOOO made my day!!!! I am a chef and just got back from a tour of Asia. Since coming home I have been dying to make these delicacies but all the recipes online called for pre-made dough which, while easy, will certainly not be as delicious.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to post the recipe, detailed method and pictures!

  2. Dawn: I am glad you like it. This is one of my sister's favorite. It is a lot of work and I only made them these for special occasion. Hope you have lots of fun making them.