Sunday, November 29, 2009

Savoury Taro Cake Dim Sum Style

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Savoury Taro Cake "Woo Tol Gow" (芋頭糕) is something that you can commonly order if you go to eat Dim Sum. Its name may make it seem like a dessert, but it is actually an appetizer or entree. Taro is a root that has a unique flavour, but its a versatile ingredient that can be incorporated in my dishes. Taro Cake is a recipe that can be considered an investment if you will, in that the preparation and cooking of this dish is time consuming. However, once made, it can be refrigerated and saved for those days where you can quickly and easily reheat it in a frying pan.

There are different variations of Taro Cake that you may find. I prefer my own to many interpretations mainly because I do not use any flavour enhancers such as five spice powder, or even salt! In fact, the flavours are all derived from the ingredients themselves, making this an extremely rustic dish.

My interpretation uses the following ingredients:
  • 1 medium-large size Taro
  • 1 stalk of green onion
  • 4-5 Shittake mushrooms
  • 1 chinese pork sausage
  • 2-3 slices of bacon
  • Small amount of dried prawns
  • 1 package of Rice Flour (do NOT confuse this with Gluten Flour, Glutinous Rice Flour)
  • 1 clove of garlic
To make the Savoury Taro Cake:
  1. Use a knife and peel all of the skin off the Taro. Cut the Taro into slices, then into pieces about the size of a clothespin.
  2. Finely chop the Shittake mushrooms, dried prawns, bacon strips, Chinese pork sausage, and the green onion.
  3. Fill a medium size pot with water about an inch in depth, and toss in the clove of garlic. Put some oil into the water, and add the chopped Taro to the water. Heat the pot on medium high heat and stir the Taro around. The Taro should soften up, and once the water boils (takes about 10 minutes), remove from the heat and continue to use the chopsticks to break up the Taro pieces into a mushy texture.
  4. Allow the water to cool over 5 minutes, then slowly incorporate the Rice Flour. After each addition of Rice Flour, mix the Taro mush evenly with the Rice Flour. Stop adding Rice Flour once the Taro mixture is binding well together. The taro mush should still be wet though, and NOT like baking dough. There are two important notes about this step: (1) You MUST use Rice Flour, and not Gluten Flour or Glutinous Rice Flour. The latter two flours are extremely drying, and will make your Taro Cake hard as a rock. (2) Add the rice flour slowly, as adding too much rice flour will dry out the Taro Cake.
  5. Add the finely chopped ingredients to the Taro mixture and mix evenly.
  6. Oil a large Corningware casserole dish and pour the Taro mixture into it. Spread evenly and smooth out the top.
  7. Prepare a large double boiler or a bamboo steamer, and steam the Taro Cake for 1 hour.
  8. After 1 hour, remove the Taro Cake, allow it to cool, and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top for a garnish.
  9. The Savoury Taro Cake can now be placed in the refrigerator and stored for future use.