Savory Taro Cake (Or Kuih)
Posted February 22, 2011on:
The Irish has their spuds and the American South has their sweet potatoes. But in Southeast Asia and Hawaii, taro is a popular root vegetable that is often used in sweet and savory dishes. When peeled and cut, raw taro has almost no smell but once cooked, it has a subtle comforting aroma. Although I absolutely love taro ice cream, nothing beats a warm steamed savory taro cake on a cold day.
Taro cake (also known as yam cake, woo tau koh in Cantonese, or kueh/kuih in Hokkien) is a steamed savory cake made from rice flour, taro and water. It’s really not cake in the traditional sense as it is not leavened with baking powder and iced with frosting. I would like to think of it as a category of its own, called kuih because they are steamed, denser in texture and can be sweet or savory.
A secret to making really good taro cake is putting a hint of good quality five spice powder into the batter. And to make that happen, I have my blogger friend, Elaine to thank for. She sent me some five spice powder from the island of Penang and it was so aromatic, I could smell it without opening the packaging. I thought I might as well make use of it by making a good plate of taro cake, also inspired by her post.
It could not be any easier. The base batter is a rather thick mixture of mashed taro, rice flour and water. Then strips of sauteed taro are added to the batter to give it a more interesting texture. When steamed and cooled, serve taro cake with lots of chopped scallions, fried shallot, shallot oil, julienned red chilli, fried dried shrimps and hoisin sauce/sweet soy sauce (kicap manis).
- 250g rice flour
- 600g taro, peeled and cut into disks
- 2 cups water
- 2 tbsp shallot oil
- 1 tsp five spice powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 300g taro, peeled and cut into disks
- 1/2 tsp five spice powder
- pinch of salt.
- 100g dried shrimps, fried until crispy
- 2 stalks of scallions, chopped
- 1 red finger chilli, julienned
- 3 tbsp shallot oil with fried shallots
- Steam taro disks until soft and mash with a potato ricer. Mix mash with rice flour, water, and the rest of the batter seasonings. The mixture should be fairly thick.
- Julienne 300g of taro disks into 1/2 inch sticks. Saute taro sticks with five spice powder and salt with about two tablespoons of oil for about 10 minutes under medium heat until very al dente.
- Mix taro sticks into the batter. Oil the inside of a 10 inch tin container and pour the batter in it. Steam for 40 minutes and let it cool.
- Garnish with scallions, fried shallots, fried dried shrimp, chilli and drizzle with shallot oil. Slice the taro cake diagonally into diamond-shaped pieces and serve with hoisin sauce or kicap manis.
(recipe adapted from “Or Kuih (Savoury Taro Cake),” Nyonya Flavours: A Complete Guide to Penang Straits Chinese Cuisine by Star Publications and Savory Taro Cake (Orh Kueh) by A Series of Kitchen Experiments)