Que Kiam / Kikiam a la Marketman


This is clearly a Chinese dish Filipinos have adopted as their own. I consulted 20 Filipino cookbooks and found only four with kikiam recipes, plus there were several more on-line. Approaching recipes this way is extremely interesting, for it higlights very common ingredients (ground pork) and all the various other variations, shortcuts, creative substitutions, etc. I always try to look for the “base” recipe, whatever that might be, and flavor it up from there. “Base” sometimes refers to basic, but often, also what makes historical sense or contextual harmony. I was a bit perturbed by the variations I read, some with no wrapper, some with caul fat, most with soybean wrappers. Some said shrimp, others cuttlefish, economical versions probably call for fish balls or other processed fish cakes, and one even whittled it down to just flavored shrimp powder. But I suppose whatever ingredients used, and however it is prepared, if it tastes good, then why not?


For my first attempt, I decided to be more true to the Chinese origins. So I placed the following ingredients into a large bowl: 600 grams minced pork, 300 grams peeled, deveined and minced white shrimp, 100 grams finely diced carrots, 100 grams finely chopped red onion, 20 grams minced garlic, 20 grams of chopped green onions or chives, 100 grams worth of reconstituted dried chinese mushrooms, diced (soaked in hot water, drained, stems removed and diced finely), 100 grams of water chestnuts diced, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, 3/4 teaspoon or up to 1 teaspoon of five spice powder and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper. Mix thoroughly. Prepare a slurry of cornstarch and water (say 2 Tablespoons of corn starch and 1 Tablespoon of water) to act as glue for sealing up the kikiam.


Place approximately 90-100 grams worth of the filling on the curved end (or one end) of the soybean wrapper (tau’pe) and roll it up as you would a lumpia or spring roll. You should end up with roughly 16 rolls.


Fold the ends inwards and roll and seal with the cornstarch slurry.


The rolls should be more or less uniform in length and girth. Some folks like their rolls wider or thicker. Others like them long and thin. Let’s not go there. :)


Now for a controversial step. Most folks are in a hurry, and almost everyone on-line says just go ahead and fry these up in some nice oil. STOP RIGHT THERE. I think an essential step is to steam the rolls first. It ensures that the flavors meld well, that the meat is cooked through, and that the wrapper is moistened. That is important to the texture of the final product, in my opinion.


Steam for 15-20 minutes and let these cool. You can now wrap some up and freeze them to be thawed and fried another day. So if you make a double batch, you could have several meals under your belt.


Just to show you the difference between straight frying and steam then frying, take a good look at the two kikiam at the back of the photo above… yup, you got it, fried straight away, without the steaming step. The skins get a very dark brown by the time the meat is properly cooked. If you had a thicker roll the problem would be exacerbated. And the flavors of the stuffed meat are a little less appealing. The four kikiam in the front of the photo were steamed first. Oh, and we fried in lard. Extra flavor step. :)


The results? I thought they were very good for a first attempt. The filling was flavorful, the variety of good ingredients therein apparent to the naked eye, and to the palate. I think only the water chestnuts could easily have been replaced with say singkamas or even finely minced ubod if one liked. The five spice was there, but not overwhelming. The skin was crisp chewy in a funky kind of way. If you know to expect it, it seems right on, if you aren’t prepared, some might find it a bit disconcerting. Served with a sweet/spicy sauce, this made for a very satisfying lunch. Do you make your own kikiam? Buy it? Or just order it when you are out? I am curious what readers think… Thanks!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

50 Responses

  1. looks delicious…at SHIN TON YON in Ongpin they have a savory, brown sauce (gravy) to go with this….

  2. Dear MM, This is something that i would probably just buy outside considering the amount of preparation involved. But then again, it is healthier to make your own because i can’t imagine how much fillers, msg, preservatives and not-so-fresh ingredients used in the commercial ones.
    I’m just wondering, did you make your own sweet/spicy sauce or store bought? A good sweet/spicy sauce recipe would be great! I also tried making a lumpia sariwa sauce, but never really successful. Some of the recipes I found on-line suggested tapioca flour instead of using cornstarch to avoid lumpy sauce… although the sauce is not lumpy with tapioca flour, i’m still not satisfied with the turn out. You might have a restaurant-quality recipe that you might want to share? And while you are at it, maybe a recipe for the lumpiang sariwa wrapper as well? Please? Thank you, MM!

  3. This is actually the kind of kikiam I’ve been pestering my mom to buy but was quite rare when I was growing up and even till now…I don’t remember where I first tasted it…and I abhor the weird little brown things more commonly sold because it tasted like cardboard.

  4. If you want uniform length and girth, may I suggest using a piping bag, MM…you can make an assembly line and finish wrapping even a hundred of those in no time at all. In addition, a little fish paste added to your filling (store bought or home made) will do wonders as well.

  5. my brother-in-law buy it in supermarket .. it isn’t complicated at all….!!! your photos looks inviting!!! perhaps i can give it a try someday and be able to like it na ( tweak it a bit maybe to lessen if not totally eliminate the smell that i dislike). thanks for sharing MM… :)

  6. I didn’t like “kikiam” as the first ones I’ve tried were the street food kind, and thought that they had no flavor and weird texture. But my aunt recently ordered from Malabon the true kikiam, like your recipe above, and I loved it from the first bite.

  7. They look really beautiful and tasty and not too difficult to execute. I cooked your ngohiong and it turned out delicious too.

    Btw, there’s a green marketplace puzzle in Tagalog about how to tell the gender of pork for sale. Titimbangin if it is male and kikiluhin, if female. Kikiam is unequivocally female.

  8. Apart from food safety, steaming also keeps the rolls firm and in shape which really helps in handling. Also, if the skins are too salty as per my experience( mine came in large square/oblong sheets which easily cuts into several smaller wrappers ), I guess the steaming somewhat “washes” away the excess flavour and God knows what else. LOL! However, if one wants to skip the steaming step, then:

    – make the rolls in advance and refrigerate. The skin will absorb moisture from the filling and this prevents browning too quickly when fried. Mind you, it gets pretty slippery though.

    – as an added barrier to over browning and to give a shattering crispness, coat them in a light rice flour batter.

  9. hahaha…very funny, footloose! MM, i’ll try your kikiam version if i still have the energy to do the preparation and steaming.

  10. Hi MM,
    For me, my mother made the best kikiam (or quekiam). She would go to Quinta/Quaipo market just to buy the tau’pe or tawpe and she would tell me that the best wrapper is the one that is made from soybeans. She would frown on using the artificial wrapper but would use it on times when the genuine tau’pe cannot be found. And she would slice the pork into thin strips and lay these side by side instead of using ground pork meat. She said that this is the authentic way of making kikiam. My mom is a Chinese mestiza so I guess she knew what she was doing :-) So now, I am tasked to make kikiam during special occasions and only if I can find the real tau’pe :-) I so miss my mom.

  11. This looks excellent, please serve this in your Cebu store!!! I dont think I can ever make this! Cindy M.S.

  12. Blaise: yes, I love that quekiam from Malabon. When we were small, my mom’s friend from Malabon always gifted us with these special Quekiam and each of us kids can eat 3-4 long ones in one seating! It’s been a long time since I had this Malabon quekiam….about 8 years ago we went to Malabon on a food trip.We had quekiam, pancit and sapinsapin but sadly they were not the same taste I remembered from childhood.
    MM I think your quekiam looks good. I will try when I get hold of tau’pe. I think the Malabon quekiam uses julienned ubod and handchopped pork and shrimps. And the sauce for dipping was like the sauce for fresh lumpia….brown, sweet and thick.

  13. Looks like lumpiang shanghai with a fancier wrap? :)

    Not a fan of kikiam, but then I have yet to taste an authentic one. Maybe when I get my hand son some good ones, then I’ll know what I have been missing.

  14. MM,
    Please do me a big favor…can you check the ingredients of the wrapper? My daughter is on gluten free diet for her allergy . Thank you .

  15. lookie, there are no ingredients on the wrapper… so I couldn’t tell you what’s in them. But from the texture, I would guess these are mostly soybean or tofu based ingredients, but not sure if they have flour added.

  16. nycgurley: here’s a fresh lumpia wrapper recipe you may want to try.
    Mix 3/4 c flour, 1 c cornstarch, 2-3 tsp salt

    2 large eggs well beaten; add 2 c water. Blend in dry ingredients.

    Reserve 2 T of mixture to seal rolls later. Makes 30-35 wrappers depending on size and thickness.

    Into a lightly oiled heated non stick pan ( try orGreenic CERAMIC nonstick 10 inch pan available in the US at Bed Bath and Beyond $15-16 with coupon or at Wallmart for $20) pour in batter with a small serving ladle. Tip your pan to desired thickness of wrapper…you can make it as safely thin as possible as you get the hang of it.
    Lift the edge of the wrapper as it curls up and transfer to a plate lined with wax paper and after every 5-6 wrappers.

    Sauce: 3/4 c stock, 3 T cornstarch, 1/4 c soy sauce, 1/2 c brown sugar
    I like to add 1 T of crunchy peanut butter into the sauce or else, sprinkle ground peanuts later. Crushed garlic on the side or into the sauce if you wish.


  17. There’s abundance of tau’pe here in Houston, (sold at Vietnamese Stores), and twice I bought a pack, pero hindi natuloy ang pagluto ko ng Quekiam, kasi sa dami ng ni-research ko na recipe, I got confused, nainis lang ako. With this post, try ko siya ulit, using your recipe, hopefully matuloy na. Thanks MM.

    Footlose, your wits always makes laugh.

    Ms. BettyQ, when MM posted this dish, hinanap ko agad comment mo; I was pretty sure you were going add something, surely you did, thanks din.

    Ms ConnieC, salamat din sa recipe mo. Hahaha, that will give me the reason to buy the Green non-stick pan sa Walmart. Compare ko ito sa present T-fal cookware ko. Ano kaya ang kaibahan?

  18. I miss the taste of good old authentic quekiam. my grandmother used to buy them in Farmer’s Market in Cubao years ago but i’m not sure if they still sell genuine quekiam there. Thank you for this recipe MM. Hope i can try making them soon.

  19. i miss quekiam of aling simang in divisoria….. they have super thick brown sauce andpapaya sidedish

  20. I grew up eating quekiam which my mom would regularly buy from someone at work. Thanks for sharing this recipe. This looks doable; now if only I can find tau pe here in the prairies, then I’ll be on my way to reliving a cherished childhood experience.

  21. Blaise, Betchay. The Quekiam from Malabon you guys mentioned must be from this very old lady that lives behind the Concepcion Church. I can’t remember her name but you can ask around the market and they’ll know. Her house is her “store” but she supplies the quekiam to some vendors around the Concepcion Market. The last time I was in Malabon was a couple of years ago, and she was still there making her famous quekiam.

  22. Ebbablue: It is a safety factor re the Tfal vs the newer ceramic coated nonstick cookware.
    According to a study by an Environmental advocacy Working Group, “non-stick pots and pans could reach 700 degrees Fahrenheit (370 C) in 3-5 minutes, releasing 15 harmful gases and chemicals, including two carcinogens, two global pollutants, and MFA, a chemical lethal to humans at low doses. Non-stick coatings break down to a chemical warfare agent known as PFIB, and a chemical analog of the WWII nerve gas, phosgene.”

    Altho manufacturer advises not to use the regular non stick pans for high heat cooking, reality in the kitchen cannot assure this, so the caveat.

    Footloose: thanks for the link. All of a sudden I felt nostalgia for a lost favorite aunt.

  23. ‘I always try to look for the “base” recipe, whatever that might be, and flavor it up from there. “Base” sometimes refers to basic, but often, also what makes historical sense or contextual harmony’.

    I agree!

  24. Thank you MR MM. I just bought dried soy bean curd sheets from the local Chinese store. On my way to prepare Que Kiam a la Marketmam. I’m looking forward on making Pancit Lomi with your Que Kiam recipe.

  25. Never been a fan of quekiam probably because I’ve never had a good one. I’ve tried the version sold by Dolor’s but I find it so-so. Then there’s the stuff sold by the sidewalk vendors that are basically just flavored dough balls. Those actually taste better for me.

    I wonder why 2 very different food stuff are named similarly.

  26. thanks for the recipe, MM! i’ve been looking for a shop in divisoria and binondo who used to sell kikiam to employees of PNB (escolta) …

  27. my version of kikiam uses 1 part ground pork 1 part white fish ( you can use cream dory ) 1/2 part Shrimps, singkamas, carrots, spring onions and bread crumbs as binder…

  28. one of my favorites! thanks for that steaming tip, MM….i used to freeze these for the kids’ baon stash, and i’d hate it because the tau’pe would get all crackly…i think i missed this important step. and you’re right…i’d fry my que kiam till kingdom come just to ensure they were cooked throught. thanks again! can’t wait to make a batch.

  29. Thanks Dennis….if she is that old then she might be the maker of my childhood quekiam! this is one of the perks of being part of Marketmanila Community….you get all the help and tips!

  30. Dear MM,

    I agree with the steaming and frying after, its really moist. BTW, try using minced pork because it’s more to our liking (i’m half-chinese). Then on the five-spice powder, make it 1/2 to 2 tsp to make it bit robust, authentically chinese-smelling :D And finally on the caul fat wrapper, my a-ma (grandmother) who used to make quekiam, wrapped the mixed meat in layers of caul fat (or more to make sure it won’t break). And for the sauce, make a spicy asado sauce. Hope to be of great help with your chinese food adventures

    P.S. Do stuff more meat, make it more fatter because quekiam are like hungarian sausages of lumpiang shanghai. Authentically chinese. Try watching food porn episode of no reservations on the part of martin picard. (the pig tail part) :D please enjoy :D

  31. I love eating kikiam at Chuang Kee in Binondo, near Eng Bee Tin. Theirs though have a finer blend of ingredients with chunks of pork fat. It’s great paired with the sweet sauce, pickled veggies, kiampong, and black gulaman! :)

  32. My tita used to make the best quekiam (really it’s pronoounced kwe-kyam). Hers, I think had ground star anise in them for that distinctly Chinese flavor. She also made this shrimp roll using ‘panyo’. Sobra ding sarap. :)

  33. Yung ‘kikiam’ nga ba na street food e galing sa quekiam? Matay ko mang isipin ang layo ng histura at lasa nung dalawa.

  34. I’ve always had home made kikiam. My mom makes them and my kids look forward to her padala of frozen kikiam whenever she visits. Lots of diff kinds of wrappers here in HK, and kikiam is def one of those hand me down recipes from my mom I look forward to learning and preparing myself. :)

  35. I’ll probably get around to making a batch when I go home for Easter (and the requisite walkabout Binondo for dimsum and supplies).

    On non-holidays, I get my kikiam fix from Belen and Frankie over at the Salcedo and Legaspi Markets (along with Belen’s freshly cooked oyster cake, and whenever I make it early enough to get a pack before all their other sukis grab ’em that is).

  36. Thanks becky for the tip on kekiam from chuan kee. Will try. But the best I ever had was from carvajal street many many years ago. Sadly, the resto has been gone for decades. My father would take home several pieces and they were a treat for us kids. These kekiam were bigger than what I see now.

  37. Congrats on another successful experiment MM. Will try this one too this week when I’ll have 4 days off. Do you think it will change the result if instead of dicing the multiple ingredients can I use the pulse setting of the food processor to save some time? It so happened i have all the ingredients in my fridge except for the wrapper which I hope t find at the Asian store tomorrow.

  38. Hi ! you’re recipe is the best one in the market.Just like you I need a common
    ingridient. with addition of five spice and dried mushroom.makes it different and similar to dim sum recipe.thank you for sharing.
    to you think you can help me find a recipe of the ff.
    sweet longonisa/hamonado
    *pilipino corned beef
    *hamonadong pata ///just like in ongpin
    thanks odnalor

  39. Street food kikiam is base on a special chinese quekiam recipe. The only thing that differs is the ingredient and the wrapper. Try to smell the two kinds of kikiam and you will know that their both the same although st reet food kikiam has a strong scent compared to quekiam which can be bought in ongpin near sabino padilla st. If your looking for a tau’pe wrapper,there are many chinese stores in aranque market that you can visit to buy the tau’pe wrapper. This quekiam is my favorite chinese food back in my elementary days. Machang,kiampong and quekiam are the best seller chinese food at that time.

  40. hi,maam…pra mas affordable po ung mga ingredients ng kikiam nyo po pwd po n minced pork,peeled shrimp,chesnut,cornstarch and light & dark soy sauce at ung binket skin na pang wrap lng po.my nabi2li s mga singaporean chinese store n ready made sauce nyan po…ung pag fry nya dpt deeply fry until slightly brown lng

  41. Thanks for the info where to buy dry bean curd sheet, I try to find in sm supermarket international product side but unfortunately its nothing.

Comments are closed.