Sunday, January 18, 2009

Taro Puffs

Every year at Chinese New Year time, I tend to miss my hometown in Malaysia very much. Since young, I have always loved Chinese New Year with its food goodies, especially the big square tin of prawn crackers and of course the red packet money that my parents and elders gave out. Even now, married with kids and I have to do the giving, I still enjoy it. Celebrations here are kept to the minimum and it is just not the same when family members are far and widely scattered all over the world! I just hope Missy E and Prince D will have a chance one day to experience the atmosphere of this celebration back in Asia and it will be so much fun seeing them running around with their cousins collecting the red packets, anticipating the arrival of the lion dance and snacking on the dried candied persimmons and candies that simply spread on the table in every Chinese homes.

I believe all the hard working wives of the Chinese households are baking or cooking up something during this whole week up to the actual day of celebration. One thing I know is that there are always alot of deep fried stuffs like mini curry puffs, prawn crackers, cashew nuts and peanuts and I always envy houses in Malaysia where they can have both the indoor dry kitchen and outdoors wet kitchen, when all the frying takes place outside the house while I have to open up the whole kitchen windows in this -5C snowy weather so that we don't suffocate from the frying oil.

I wanted to make this Taro Puffs for a long time but never gathered the courage to do it. My mum made this Puffs 3 or 4 times when I was young and perhaps only succeeded twice and she warned me it was the most difficult thing to make. Indeed it was. I made the fillings a day before and the outer skin and frying on the next day. The forming and wrapping up of the 18 puffs took me almost 30 mins and the deep frying part took another 3o minutes. A better advice for those who has no patience... don't do it and just get some at your next Dim Sum outing. But for those who might be as crazy as myself or simply determined to do anything, try it out and if you can make this, nothing else will be difficult to make anymore when deep frying is concerned. The satisfaction of seeing these puffs puffed and browned in the hot boiling oil with its frilly and crusty crust forming is beyond words. My first 4 simply disintegrated and I was disheartened a bit. I cranked up the heat again and continued and suddenly each was blooming up nicely and ended up with 12 perfect ones. Curry gave the thumbs up for my effort and Missy E loved it, while I myself slowly savored the crusty skin with the soft mushy taro inside, complemented by the shiitake mushrooms and moist minced pork and shrimp fillings. It took me so much time to make it and only I understood the need to eat it slowly!


600 gm Taro (cut to slices, steamed till soft & mashed)
1 - 1/3 cup wheat starch

6 tbsp vegetable shortening

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1-1/2 tsp baking powder

Filling: 2 cloves garlic, minced; 1 small shallot, minced; 250gm minced pork; 150gm peeled and cut raw shrimp; 5 shiitake mushroom, sliced to small pieces; 1 egg yolk; 1 tsp cornflour added to 3 tbsp water; 2/3 cup water; 2/3 tsp salt; 1/3 tsp sugar; 1 tsp sesame oil; 2 tbsp oyster flavored sauce


1. In a bowl, mix the minced pork, shrimp, mushroom, salt, sugar and sesame oil thoroughly.

2. Heat pan with some cooking oil. Fry the minced garlic and shallot for 30 seconds. Add in the minced pork mixture and cook for 3 minutes, continuously stirring with spoon. Add in the water and let simmer further for 10 to 15 mins on low heat. Add in oyster flavored sauce and simmer for 2 mins. Add in the cornstarch and stir so the gravy becomes thick. Turn off heat and spoon fillings into a bowl.

3. Add in the egg yolk and stir to combine. Let cool to room temperature or store in fridge.

4. Boil 1 cup of water. Turn down the heat and mix in the wheat starch. It will turn to thick, sticky paste. Remove from heat and leave to rest for 5 mins.

5. Mash the taro first and then add in the vegetable shortening, sugar, salt and baking powder and mash together. Add in the wheat starch paste and knead to combine. Use hands to ensure better mixing.

6. Take some of this taro paste (use 1 scoop of dinner spoon as measurement) and flatten it on your palm and spoon some filling in the middle. Slowly wrap up from the sides and gather up to enclose in the middle top and shape to ovals. Wrap up all the puffs before starting the deep frying part.

7. Heat up deep frying oil ( 3 cups or more) on medium heat. The oil must be boiling hot before deep frying starts. Check with a piece of the taro paste, it is ready when it immediately sizzles once it touches the oil. Get ready a frying Asian Ladle (Spider Skimmer) and dip it into the hot oil for 1 min.

8. Put 1 or 2 pieces of taro puffs inside the Ladle (spaced & apart) and dip into hot oil. If the wheat starch starts to disperse and floats away from the taro filling, the oil is not hot enough. If it immediately browns with the frilly crusts forming and everything intact, keep an eye, they will cook very fast, about 20 seconds. Once brown, take out and drain oil on kitchen towel.

9. Continue with the rest in small batches of 1 or 2 and don't rush. Place in individual paper cases and serve at room temperature. These puffs are best eaten the day they are made.

Makes: 15 to 18 pieces


Anonymous said...

Wow! Success indeed! Love the lacy crusts.

Ling said...

2 thumbs-up from me! Looks really professional. Makes me want to go for dimsum tmrw!

terri@adailyobsession said...

i've been experimenting with making taro rings n puffs too, n haven't got the right crispyness n lightness. ur puffs look really good!

3e said...

looks just like those they serve up in dim sum restaurants!