A beloved dim sum dish, taro puffs is illustrative of the importance of contrast in texture. The outside is crisp but the taro is soft and creamy beneath the crust. And, inside, a generous amount of well-seasoned meat.
Why is it called a “puff”? If you will look closely at the deep-fried taro balls in the photos, the surface of the taro balls is not smooth. Rather, there is a fine lace-like pattern all over. That’s because the mashed taro puffs during frying. If you prefer a more pronounced lace-like pattern, make the taro mixture less stiff by adding more water and shortening.
Deep-fried Crispy Taro Puffs (Wu Gok)
- 500 grams taro peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons shortening lard is traditional but I used Crisco
- 1 tablespoon corn starch dispersed in 2 tablespoons of warm water (plus more for dusting)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- pinch baking soda
- drizzle sesame seed oil
- 2 cups cooking oil for deep frying
- Place the peeled taro in a pan, add enough water to cover, bring to the boil, cover and simmer until very tender. How tender? A fork or knife inserted at the thickest part of the largest piece should go through easily and without resistance.
- Mash the boiled taro. Add the shortening, starch solution, sugar, salt, pepper, sesame seed oil and baking soda to mashed taro and mix well.
- Transfer the taro to a flat work surface and knead until pliable, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Place the kneaded taro in a bowl, cover with a damp towel to prevent it from drying, and let rest while you make the filling.
- To the ground pork, add one tablespoon of corn starch and one tablespoon of water. Mix well.
- Heat two tablespoons of cooking oil in a work, add the pork and cook, stirring, until it starts to brown. Season with salt, pepper and about one teaspoon. of sugar.
- Add the peas and chopped chili, continue cooking for another minute, pour in the sesame seed oil then turn off the heat. Transfer the pork and peas mixture to a shallow bowl to allow to cool a bit.
- Transfer the pork and peas mixture to a shallow bowl to allow to cool a bit.
- Spoon one tablespoon of the pork filling at the center of the taro mixture.
- Place about two tablespoons of the taro mixture on the palm of your hand. Flatten and spread into a circle. Curve your hand to create a “bowl”.
- Gather the edges of the taro mixture and close to seal the pork filling.
- You now have one taro ball with pork and peas filling.
- Repeat until all the taro mixture has been used up.
- Sprinkle the taro balls with corn starch then start heating the cooking oil for deep frying.
- This is the stage where the taro balls become taro puffs. As the taro balls come in contact with the hot oil, the surface puffs as it turns crisp. Fry the taro balls over high heat until nicely browned.
- Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.