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The Nyonya Kuih Guide to Investing

BY Philippe Andrews

Updated 01 Sep 2021

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Alright, let’s begin by accepting this truth: when it comes to investing, there’s plenty of information everywhere on how you should do so.

From all over the internet to financial experts and even finance students, investment strategies and tips are available in almost every corner of the world today — just like the many cicak that seem to always be hiding in all corners of the average Malaysian household (you can try to get rid of them, but they’ll always find a way back in!)

While this may generally be a good thing, as it means that information on investing is easily accessible, it could also spell disaster — because too much information on anything can be very overwhelming for anyone to digest.

As such, rather than attempting to force-feed yourself countless investing lessons and trying to memorise huge amounts of text, we at Loanstreet would like to help make investment tips and tricks much easier to remember for Malaysians everywhere.

How? Of course by connecting them to food — in this case, Nyonya kuih — that we love lah!


What's covered in this article?

1) Kuih Lapis

What is it?
Kuih lapis is a Nyonya kuih — that is, a Nyonya teatime snack or pastry — which is best known for having multiple layers. Each layer is usually thin and brightly coloured, resulting in a beautiful jelly-like pastry when numerous layers are combined to make one piece of the kuih.

What investment lesson can it teach? Diversify your investments. Rather than investing all your money in one particular product, tool or account, spread out the money you have across various products. For instance, instead of investing all your funds in just bitcoin, consider investing in other forms of cryptocurrency too so that you can spread out your risk — thus creating an investment portfolio that is colourful, layered and safe.


2) Ang Ku Kuih

What is it?
These glutinous rice flour pastries are commonly filled with mung bean paste or ground peanuts and sugar before being moulded and steamed in the shape of a tortoiseshell. The name of the kuih itself, ‘ang ku’, consists of Hokkien words that mean ‘red’ and ‘tortoise’ respectively.

What investment lesson can it teach? Protect yourself by making reliable investments. Instead of plunging into all and every opportunity that comes along, be picky with your investments. You can protect yourself by choosing to invest only in certified products and secure financial instruments, in the same way, that the shell of the tortoise protects the ‘ku’ itself. For example, choose to invest only in peer-to-peer (P2P) financing platforms that are certified by the Securities Commission Malaysia for that extra level of safety.


3) Pulut Tai Tai

What is it?
Little cakes of glutinous rice, commonly coloured with butterfly pea flowers to give them a unique blue hue and served with small dollops of kaya. These kuih are also sometimes referred to as ‘Pulut Tekan’.

What investment lesson can it teach? Even the smallest amount of kaya — or coconut jam — can make a massive difference when it comes to enjoying Pulut Tai Tai. This reminds us that even a small investment amount can make a huge difference in terms of your financial health. There’s no harm in starting small when it comes to investing; in fact, if you aren’t in a position to channel a large part of your income towards investments, begin by setting aside small amounts first and increasing them when you can afford to do so.


4) Rempah Udang

What is it?
Small banana leaf packets containing rolls of glutinous rice that are packed with centres of a spiced mixture of coconut and dried shrimp. Often celebrated as one of the more popular savoury Nyonya kuih.

What investment lesson can it teach? At first glance, it’s easy to mistake Rempah Udang for just another sweet Nyonya kuih. It’s only upon unwrapping the snack or smelling it that you’ll realise how wrong that assumption is. The same goes for investments: don’t just consider what’s on the surface. Your friend may approach you with a very attractive offer in stock trading, but you shouldn’t pounce on that offer immediately. Think it through a few times and unwrap it mentally by learning as much as you can about the opportunity. Ask for advice from other financial experts, even, if necessary — and invest only when you are convinced, instead of just being coerced.


5) Kuih Talam

What is it?
A creamy kuih that is best known for having two distinct layers: a green pandan-flavoured layer and a savoury white coconut cream layer. It’s celebrated for combining salty and sweet flavours in one treat, although the layers do not have to be of equal thickness.

What investment lesson can it teach? Investments are always both salty and sweet, just like a piece of kuih talam. Investments with high returns (sweet) often come with high risk levels (salty), while those with lower returns (salty) are usually paired with lower risk levels (sweet). As such, invest your money according to your own preferred balance of sweetness and saltiness. If you’re personally looking for high returns with a short time period, you could opt for a high-risk investment, and vice versa. Remember that it’s highly unlikely for you to be in exactly the same financial situation as your friend or relative and that you should always familiarise yourself with your own financial health and risk preferences before making any investment.


It’s all about the kuih

So, the next time you head out in the evening to look for teatime snacks to enjoy with your loved ones, or the next time you’re in a meeting and find kuih being served as refreshments, try to recall what investment lessons and tips those kuih capture. You could even take it a step further by attributing your very own personal investment tricks to other kuih that you enjoy!

A little bonus? Using them as a way to teach yourself about making investments would also give you the chance to kuih-nch your thirst for Nyonya kuih more regularly, which is great news for most Malaysians since we love our food.



*The above article is intended for informational purposes only. Loanstreet accepts no responsibility for loss that may arise from reliance on information contained in the articles

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About the Author

Philippe Andrews


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