To live up to its name, kuih seri muka must have a layer of custard that's smooth as a baby's bottom because "seri muka" means beautiful face.
Unlike humans, kuih doesn't need cosmetics, plastic surgery or botox. All it requires is low, gentle heat whilst it's cooking, and the "muka" would be "seri" as can be.
Do you know why kuih seri muka is also called kueh salat?
Because some impatient cooks steam the kuih on high heat, resulting in a custard with a pimply, wavy top. The worst ones even have holes inside.
When kuih seri muka has an ugly rather than beautiful face, the kuih is sala, which means wrong in Malay.
"Kuih sala! Kuih sala!" everyone would say.
Over time, "kuih sala" has been corrupted to "kuih salat".
Um . . . hmm . . . you know what? I just made that up, totally.
*laugh evilly . . .*
Making kuih salat is easy, especially if you have a steam oven or electric steamer with temperature control. If you have a big rice cooker, you might squeeze a small kuih in there. The warm mode is ideal for steaming the custard layer.
If, like me, you have to use a wok or big pot that fits a cake pan, you can still make a beautiful kuih seri muka. Just keep the steaming water for the custard layer a bit below boiling point by leaving the cover slightly ajar, and the kuih/kueh should be fine.
The recipe is here. Just follow the instructions and your kuih salat will be anything but sala. And that's the honest truth.
Click here for the recipe.