taro cake (wu tao go)
taro cake (wu tao go)
In case I haven't mentioned it already, I LOVE taro. This hearty and fragrant starchy root vegetable gives me all the nostalgic feels. I prefer the large varietal of this tuber (the one with a husky brown skin and white flesh dotted with purple speckles) as it is more flavorful.
As a Lunar New Year food, this savory cake is prepared in advance so that it can be sliced and pan-fried during the first few days of celebrations. The Chinese word for "cake" is a homonym for "growth" and “achieving higher level” in all endeavors.
NOTE: In terms of equipment, you will need small rimmed loaf pans (or tins or heatproof dishes) that will fit into a covered pot. I've used two rimmed small 6" x 6" (15cm x 15cm) or one 9" x 5" (23cm x 12cm). If you don't have a steamer basket, then place a heatproof bowl upside down inside the pot, fill it with 2 inches with water and place your taro cake pan on top of the inverted bowl to cover and steam.
1 lb (450g) taro, diced into 1/2" (1cm) cubes
Half of a small purple sweet potato, diced into 1/2" (1cm) cubes
FOR THE MUSHROOM BACON
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 oz (125g) shiitake or King oyster mushrooms, finely chopped
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
FOR THE BATTER
1 cup (150g) rice flour
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 cup (240ml) room temperature water
Oil to pan-fry
In a large pot, boil the cubed taro and sweet potato for 15-20 minutes, until soft. Drain and mash.
Heat a small frying pan up on high heat and add the oil. Add the mushrooms and cook for 1-2 minutes. Turn the heat down to low and season with soy sauce, maple syrup, and smoked paprika. Cook for another 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the mushrooms have completely absorbed all the liquid and are dry to touch.
Measure out the rice flour, cornstarch, salt and white pepper into a large bowl. Pour in the water and stir to combine into a smooth batter. Mix in the root vegetable mash.
Oil loaf pan / baking dish or heatproof bowl and pour in the batter, smoothing out a flat surface.
Place a steamer basket into a large pot filled with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and put the taro cake pan in. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and steam on medium heat for 45 minutes or until set.
Let cool for an hour before either storing the pan in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, turn the loaf out and cut into 3/4" slices. Heat your pan up again with another tablespoon of oil and pan-fry both sides until golden brown and crispy. Serve with fresh cilantro and sliced chile and a vegan oyster sauce, if using.