My mum used to make these every year and I haven’t eaten her taro cakes since I left home. Here in Hong Kong, taro cakes are showing up in abundance as we near Chinese New Year…but they never look the same as my mum’s. So I was determined to try and figure out how to make this recipe myself, not only to relive some delicious food memories, but also to try and carry on my mum’s version.
Food often plays a huge part in a culture’s celebrations, and this Chinese taro cake, or woo tau goh (woo tao go) is no exception. If you are of Chinese descent and from my generation or earlier, you are, most likely, already familiar with this traditional Lunar New Year dish and hopefully, it conjures up fond childhood memories as it does for me!
- 180g rice flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- 340g taro root, cut into small cubes (weight after peel has been removed)
- 2 cups hot water (for soaking the dried shrimp and scallops)
- 25g dried shrimp
- 30g dried scallops
- 2 Chinese sausages (lap cheong)
- chopped spring onion
- sesame seeds
- chilli sauce and soy sauce, for serving (optional)
- In a mixing bowl, combine the rice flour, salt, sugar and white pepper. Whisk together and set aside.
- Add the dried shrimp and scallops to 2 cups hot water and let soak until full hydrated, at least 1 hour.
- Drain the rehydrated shrimp and scallops, reserving the soaking liquid.
- Run the Chinese sausages under hot water to help to soften them and make them easier to cut. Chop the sausages into small pieces.
- Roughly chop the shrimp and break the scallops into shreds using your fingers. Combine with the chopped Chinese sausage and set aside.
- Combine the cubed taro root and water in a pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 minutes. Drain.
- Measure out 1½ cups of the reserved soaking liquid and heat in the microwave for 1 minute. Add to the bowl containing the rice flour mixture and mix well using a whisk.
- Spread the cooked taro into a greased dish. Whisk the rice flour liquid again and pour over the taro.
- Sprinkle the shrimp, scallops and Chinese sausage mixture over the taro and rice flour liquid. Gently push the toppings into the liquid so that they are at least partially submerged.
- Steam for 1 hour, checking at 30 minutes to make sure there is enough water in your steamer. Refill the water if necessary.
- Top with chopped spring onion and sesame seeds.
- Let cool completely before cutting. Eat at room temperature or microwave individual servings. Serve with chilli sauce or soy sauce, if desired.
- I used a deep-dish pie plate, but you could also use an 8×8 dish, loaf tin or another circular dish of similar volume. Round foil pans are traditionally used as the cakes are often gifted to family and friends for Chinese New Year.
- You can find taro root, rice flour, Chinese sausage (lap cheong), dried shrimp and dried scallops at your local Asian market.
- The volume measurement for the rice flour is approximately 1½ cups, with the flour scooped loosely.
- Dried shrimp and scallops can vary in size. I bought small ones as they were more affordable than larger ones, but whatever you can find will do. Because of the variance in size, it is best to go by the weight measurement in the recipe to determine how much to use.
- Using Chinese mushrooms for your topping will add extra flavour to your taro cake. Purchase dried Chinese mushrooms from your local Asian market and, depending on the size of the mushrooms, use 2 large ones or 3–4 small ones. Rehydrate them in hot water for 1–2 hours, until fully hydrated (remember to reserve the soaking liquid). Trim off the mushroom stems and finely dice the caps. Mix with the lap cheong, shrimp and scallops to spread on the taro cake. Combine the soaking water from the mushrooms and the shrimp and scallops and measure out the correct amount for the recipe.
- You can add ½ tsp of fish sauce to the rice flour solution to add more of a umami flavour to the cake. This is optional.
- Taro cake is best eaten warm. Store any leftovers in the fridge and then reheat individual servings in the microwave.
- You can freeze taro cake! If you are planning to freeze it, omit the chopped spring onion garnish. Let the cake cool completely, cover, seal well and store in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat it, remove the cover and steam until it’s completely heated through, for approximately 30 minutes. Garnish with the chopped spring onion at this point.
- For detailed instructions – with images – on how to make this recipe, check out the recipe on my website.