Taro Root Cake

Taro Root Cake

Happy Chinese New Year! To celebrate, I made taro root cake. It’s not a sweet, baked kind of cake. It’s a savory, steamed, smooth cake – a dim sum type of dish. Served in Chinese restaurants, it usually has some sort of meat. A packaged veggie version can be found at the Asian supermarket, but it’s quite plain.

This homemade version is packed with flavorful bits of veggie meat, mushrooms and vegetables amidst the creamy taro and rice flour. If you never tried taro root cake before, the texture is like the wide rice noodles used in chow fun, but softer and shaped in a thick block.

Taro Root Cake

It’s not the quickest thing to make but it’s also not very hard. To prevent itchy hands when handling raw taro root, be sure to wear latex gloves. It contains calcium oxalate, a skin irritant that’s neutralized by cooking.

Along the same line, Mom always said to make sure the taro root comes to a full boil before lifting the pot lid, otherwise when you eat the taro, your throat will be itchy. I have no idea if that’s true or just an old wives’ tale. I have no intention of finding out.

Taro Root Cake
Makes 4 mini loafs

1 pound taro root, peeled and cut into 3/4″ dice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
4 Chinese dried mushrooms, soaked and diced
1/4 – 1/2 cup veggie meat, such as vegetarian ham or sausage
2 pieces preserved salted turnip, diced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 green onion, chopped
1 cup brown rice flour or regular rice flour (not glutinous rice flour)
1 cup water
3/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sugar

Optional Garnishes
1 green onion, chopped
2 cilantro sprigs, chopped
Chili sauce

Place the taro root in a pot and just cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, covered, over high heat. Add the 1 teaspoon salt and reduce to low heat. Cook covered until tender about 10 – 15 minutes. Drain and mashed half of the taro, leaving the other half as pieces. Set aside.

Heat a wok to hot, add the oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add the shallots and cook until translucent. Add the veggie meat, salted turnips, and the mushrooms. Stir fry for a couple of minutes, then add in the green onions. Stir to mix in and set aside.

Stir together the rice flour and 1 cup of water in a large bowl until well mixed. Add the 3/4 cup boiling water, potato starch and salt, stir until blended and then stir in the taro and mushroom mixture, soy sauce, oil and sugar. Mix well.

Ladle into four greased mini loaf pans or one 8″ round pie pan. (The steamer must be large enough so that the pan doesn’t touch the sides. I had to use multiple pans as my steamer pot was not very large.)

Steam over medium-high heat for 30 minutes or so until the cake is set and firm. While steaming check the water level, if necessary, replenish with boiling water.

Let cool before unmolding and slicing into pieces. The taro cake pieces can be served steamed or pan-fried in a bit of oil until golden brown. Top with any of the garnishes.

Related Dim Sum Posts
Sticky Rice Bowl
Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf
Mock Chicken
Stuffed Tofu Puffs with Chili Garlic Sauce

9 Comments so far

  1. LittleMonsterx14 on February 14th, 2013

    oh i have never seen anything like this but i would definitely try it!

  2. india-leigh on February 14th, 2013

    wow! never even heard of this before. It doesn’t sound too difficult. Could you make lots and freeze it? I am intrigued so i have to make it.
    thanks for sharing.

    HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR! What is it the year of?
    x

  3. Jes on February 14th, 2013

    I’ve never tried taro root cake, but it looks really interesting!

  4. Andrea on February 14th, 2013

    This looks pretty weird, and I don’t think I’ve ever had it, but it reminds me a little of radish cake, which I love. I used to have a recipe for radish cake that I’ve lost, and have never been able to replicate. Is taro root cake at all similar to radish cake?

  5. chow on February 14th, 2013

    LittleMonsterx14 – If you ever get a chance, you should try it.

    india-leigh – I haven’t tried freezing it yet since there’s never any leftovers to freeze. But I think you can. 2013 is the year of the snake.

    Jes – Thanks!

    Andrea – Yes, it’s very similar to radish cake. Instead of daikon, it’s taro root, the preparation is similar too.

  6. shan on February 15th, 2013

    My grandmother made the best taro cake ever. I miss it so much. Thank you for the vegan version!

  7. Hannah on February 18th, 2013

    I’ve always wondered about these things! There’s just nothing else like it in any other cuisine, so it’s hard to know what to expect. I’m still a bit hesitant, but I’m much more likely to give it a try now that I understand what goes into it. Sounds like it could be a fun new taste adventure!

  8. Lauren on February 18th, 2013

    I can’t believe I have never heard of this. I absolutely love taro– it is one of my favorite things ever. I’ve prepared it a few different ways, but never like this. I must try this! :)

  9. Graham on October 13th, 2013

    I’ve done a similar loaf for Thanksgiving using canned cranberry sauce – it was sort of a challenge to see if anything good could be made using canned sauce. It’s really delicious, and always gets a thumbs up for taste and consistency from confirmed carnivors. A little liquid smoke in the mix helps along that taste. I’ll be making some this weekend – Canadian Thanksgiving.

Leave a reply