Friday, February 5, 2010

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

I love dim sum.

The Chinese equivalent of afternoon te
a, dim sum is an assortment of small dishes including, steamed and fried dumplings, cakes, noodles, sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves and savory meats, distributed through the restaurant on rolling carts and served with pots of hot tea.

Seriously, Yum.

So when my mom brought over a couple of taro roots, I decided to make standard dim sum fare, woo
tul gow, or taro cake, in honor of Chinese New Year.

These days, most people would rather go out to a dim sum restaurant than make it themselves, but a few years ago I set out to learn how to make some of my favorite Chinese comfort foods and tried out a few dim sum recipes along the way, including taro cake. After sampling a nearby restaurant's dried, tasteless version, Brandon, my mom & I decided that my recipe was far superior.

Woo Tul Go (adapted from Ellen Leong Blonder's Dim Sum turnip cake recipe)
2 tbs. small dried shrimp
1 small taro root, about 12 oz.
2 tsp. oil, preferably peanut oil
1 Chinese sausage, finely diced
1 scallion, finely sliced
1 tbs. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 3/4 cup rice flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper

Soak the shrimp in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the water.

Using rubber gloves, peel taro root and dice into 1/4 inch cubes. (Taro's rough exterior can irritate skin.) In a saucepan, combine taro with 2 cups of cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover, letting it simmer for about 15 minutes until it turns a pale purple and is tender. Drain, reserving water.

Heat oil in a skillet and stir-fry shrimp, sausage and scallions. Toss in cilantro and mix, then remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together rice flour, salt, sugar and pepper. Combine reserved shrimp and taro water. Measure out 3 cups, adding water if necessary. Add water and taro to the rice flour and stir until it becomes a thick
paste. Add sausage mixture and combine well.

Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with a parchment paper circle and oil the paper and side of the pan generous
ly. Pour the cake mixture into the pan and cover with another oiled parchment paper circle, using a spatula to level off the top.

Set up a steamer (You can use a bamboo one, those aluminum, tiered steamers or do what I did - inserted a round, metal trivet into a regular 7-quart pot. If you don't have a trivet, try inverting a pie tin.) Cover and steam for 40 minutes, replenishing water when necessary. Let cool and remove from cake pan, carefully peeling away parchment paper. Cut into wedges or diamonds. Heat oil in a skillet and pan fry, giving the tops and bottoms a crispy, brown crust. Serve hot with soy sauce and spicy chili oil on the side for drizzling.

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