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.
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