Kuih Pie Tee: The Popular Nyonya Snack Beloved by Malaysians
Kuih Pie Tee, also known as Koay Pai Tee, is a beloved pastry snack that holds a special place in the hearts of food enthusiasts in Penang, Melaka, and Singapore. These regions serve as the vibrant hubs of Peranakan Nyonya culture, a fusion of Chinese and local traditions that emerged when Chinese traders intermingled with the inhabitants of the Malay Archipelago during the 15th century.
The delicate shells of Kuih Pie Tee are created using brass pie tee moulds. The moulds are dipped in a flour batter and then immersed in sizzling oil. As the thin layer of batter fries, it transforms into a crisp, golden pastry shell that effortlessly slides off the mould. These adorable pastry shells are typically filled with a tantalizing mixture of vegetables, chopped prawns, shredded turnips, yam bean, bamboo shoots, carrots, and an aromatic blend of spices. The final touch involves a garnish of chilli sauce, coriander leaves, omelette strips, and succulent shrimp.
The exact origin of this delectable snack remains somewhat elusive. Some suggest that Kuih Pie Tee could be a Peranakan interpretation of a British pastry, possibly deriving its name from terms like “patty” or “pastie.” Another theory posits that it may have evolved from a dish called ‘Syonan-to Pie’ during the Japanese occupation. While the true origins remain uncertain, the allure of Kuih Pie Tee continues to captivate food enthusiasts across the region.
The appearance of Kuih Pie Tee may vary slightly depending on the location. In Melaka, the edges of the pastry shells often fan out like a hat’s brim, earning it the nickname “Nyonya Top Hat.” In other areas, it typically resembles a cup-like shape.
Kuih Pie Tee shares a close affinity with Popiah spring rolls, a Hokkien dish commonly associated with the arrival of spring. Both Kuih Pie Tee and Popiah employ similar fillings, making them a delightful combination often served together in Nyonya eateries. During the festive occasion of Chinese New Year, especially in Penang and Melaka, these two culinary delights take center stage, showcasing the rich traditions and flavours of the Peranakan culture.