Tuesday, February 08, 2005

taro cake for the new year

i looked forward to this gift from mother-in-law, who used to make it regularly for new year's and whenever her favorite daughter visited . one of husband's nieces who also loves this taro cake, contemplated videotaping her grandma while she cooked this.
i got a cookbook. i've been eyeing this recipe--it seemed too complicated to try, but there's nothing like a lingering taste memory and a hunger pang to get me motivated.
it is a long and involved process but the end product is luscious, unusual, filling...according to the book it is eaten for breakfast and snack all thru the week where the lunar new year falls.

1 piece of "lop yok" Chinese bacon, steamed for a half hour until soft. save the juices.
1/4 cup dried scallops, soaked for 2 hours, drained, liquid reserved.
1/4 cup dried shrimps, soaked for a half hour, drained, liquid reserved.
8 dried black mushrooms, soaked for about an hour, drained, liquid reserved.
2 large taro, "gabi" about 2 lbs.
2 cups of rice flour (not glutinous)

remove the rind from the Chinese bacon. remove the hard muscle from the scallops. cut off stems from black mushrooms and discard. chop the scallops, mushrooms and bacon finely.
boil and peel taro root, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, for about 15 minutes or until fork tender and lavender. scoop cubes out of water, reserving liquid.

stir fry in hot vegetable oil, the chinese bacon and its reserved steaming juices, until it renders a bit of fat. add the chopped scallops, mushrooms, & shrimp. add the cooked taro cubes. pour the taro mixture into heat proof deep straight-sided bowl, such as a souffle dish.
mix 2 cups of rice flour with the reserved liquid from the mushrooms, scallops, and shrimps, and enough reserved water from boiling the taro, to make a thin pudding consistency.
pour over the taro and bacon-mushroom-scallop-shrimp mixture to cover completely.

steam for about an hour. let it cool for 15 minutes before inverting or slicing: cut into quarters and then into strips, not wedges. it is delicious straight out of the steamer, but better the next day lightly fried and sprinkled with scallions.

(husband says it tastes just like his mom's, but would i ever dare give her a taste...?!)