Since I published my first cookbook Wet Market to Table, I often get asked what some of my favourite market ingredients are. One of it is undoubtedly the taro. It is as versatile as the potato, perhaps even more so, since it is able to straddle the worlds of sweet and savoury comfortably. A dish that highlights the taro’s flavour and characteristics is yam ring or yam basket. The dough used to make this is the same one you can use to make wu kok (taro croquettes). This is the kind of dish you’d make if you’d really want to impress your Chinese family, relatives or friends. The key to its success is in the control of the temperature of the oil during the deep-frying process, so I highly recommend watching the video tutorial to understand how to test if the oil is ready.
Yam Ring with Gong Bao Vegetables
For the yam ring:
180g skinless yam, diced into small cubes
90g boiling water mixed with 90g wheat starch
Pinch of five spice powder
Pinch of sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of white pepper
90g softened butter
Oil for deep-frying
For the vegetables:
2 tablespoons oil
½ of a yellow, red and green capsicum, each cut into bite-sized pieces
3 button mushrooms, stems removed, quartered
½ onion, cut into 6 and peeled into petals
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, sliced
1 large spring onion, cut into lengths (optional)
5 dried chilies
2 tbs Shaoxing wine (optional)
2 tbs oyster sauce
2 tbs kecap manis
2 tablespoons light sauce
1 tablespoon corn starch mixed with 6 tablespoons water to form a slurry
1 spring onion, sliced thinly (optional)
Steam the yam for 5 minutes on high heat or until fully tender. Mash with a fork and add to the wheat starch dough. Add the rest of the yam ring ingredients and knead until homogenous. If the dough feels soft, chill in the freezer until it is firm enough to shape. Form the dough into a ring measuring 7” wide and 1.5” high. Cut out the base of a disposable aluminum tray and poke holes in it. Set the basket on the aluminum and chill in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the cashews until fragrant. Set aside. Add the capsicum, mushroom, onion, ginger, spring onion and dried chilies to the pan. Fry until the vegetables are cooked, before adding the rest of the filling ingredients and the cashews. Cook until the liquid thickens to form a sauce.
Fill a wok with sufficient oil to fully submerge the basket while frying, and heat to 165C. Deep fry the ring until golden brown. Allow to drain and transfer to a plate. Fill the basket with the vegetables and garnish with spring onion.