I have failed this recipe once two years ago, the reason being I make it too big and I have difficulty to deep fry the yam ring until crispy. It was a mess and since then, I did not tried out any recipe..
Since I have a yam at home,I have decided to try preparing again. This time, I am much more careful in my shaping and by taking a longer way to prepare it. The outcome is very satisfactory, very crispy on the outside just like what is sold…
Do I need any further introduction to this golden yam ring? May be yes. This is a common dish in the restaurants of Singapore and Malaysia and but I was shocked that it is not common in Taiwan and Hong Kong.. I can confirm that it is not popular in greater China regions because I cannot find any write up or recipes pertaining to this yam ring be it in Chinese or English.
All those bloggers who share the recipes are Malaysian and Singapore bloggers. Therefore, I would think that this must be a regional variation of the another yam rings that Greater china region called it yam nests. While over here, we used yam paste, some Taiwanese and Hong Kong members told me that they have used shredded yam to make a nest instead.
Most Chinese bloggers used the Chinese name : “佛钵飘香“ or literally translated as Aromatic Buddhist Bowl because the yam paste ring looks like the bowl used by the monk . However, I am unable to trace the origins of the name. The monk will carry this bowl, walked around and Buddhist will donate food on this bowl at their free will. The monks will have no objections as to what is put inside this special bowl.
Though the name of the dish is associated with the word Buddha, what is sold at the restaurant is mostly not vegetarian. In fact most fillings are not vegetarian and two of the most common non vegetarian fillings are kung pao chicken as in this post: Kung Pao Chicken aka Gong Bao Ji Ding (宫保鸡丁）
Another very common non vegetarian filling is the sweet and sour pork or dishes cooked with sweet and sour sauce. You can refer to this recipe for the ingredients: Classic Chinese Sweet And Sour Pork (咕噜肉，咕咾肉、古老肉）
Since I am on vegetarian diet and the name is using Buddha’s name , I have decided to share a vegetarian filling but remember you can use any fillings of your choice.. If you need recipe, just click on the pictures above. The yam ring is more of a decoration but goes well with any type of dishes.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: Prepare 3 small yam rings of diameter of 4 inches each that can serve 6-8 persons
- 500 grams of skinned yam or taro
- 80 grams of wheat starch
- 1 tablespoon of white sugar
- 2 tablespoons of cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon of five spice powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder (optional)
- One handful of rice vermicelli or beehoon
- 2 small monkey head mushrooms, cut into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons of green peas
- 3 shitake mushrooms, soaked and cut into small pieces
- 5 cherry tomatoes
- 10 pieces of firm tofu aka taukwa
- Some cashew nuts, toasted
- Some pine seeds
- 1 small cucumber, cut into cubes
- Some coriander
Note: The quantities also depend on the size of your yam rings. Small yam rings will require less ingredients and big yam ring will need much more ingredients. Please adjust accordingly to your liking
Sweet and Sour Sauce
- 8 tablespoons of plain water (清水）
- 4 tablespoons of tomato sauce （番茄酱）
- 4 tablespoons of white vinegar （白醋）
- 4 tablespoons of white sugar （白糖）
- 1 tablespoons of corn starch （生粉）
- 2 tablespoon of cooking oil （食用油）
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- De-skin the yam and cut into pieces, steam until soft.
- In a bowl, put the hot yam, wheat starch, sugar, five spice powder, salt and cooking oil. Mash the yam and knead it until it forms a pliable dough. If it is too sticky, you can add additional wheat starch. If it is too dry, you can add in additional cooking oil. Take a small piece and taste if it suits your taste bud, do necessary adjustment if necessary.
- Place the yam paste in a plastic bag of about 20cm x 15 cm. Seal the opening. and press it down until it forms a thick piece. Put it in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes before proceeding to the next step.
- Once the yam paste is slightly firmed but still can be shaped, cut open the plastic bag. Divide the width into 3 equal parts of about 5 cm wide each. Cut into 3 parts.
- Take one part and connect both ends together. Send back to the freezer to deep freeze until firm for deep frying. You can keep the ring in this manner (air tight to prevent moisture loss) in the freezer until you wish to deep fry days after. Just defrost the ring slightly before deep frying.
- It is advised that the fillings be cooked before deep frying. Once the yam ring is ready, you can then fill the ring and your yam ring will be crispy when served.
- Put all the sauce ingredients in the bowl, stir until well mixed. Set aside.
- In a wok, put 1 tablespoon of cooking oil, sauté the shitake mushrooms and monkey head mushrooms until aromatic. Add the other side ingredients and have a quick stir. Dish up and set aside. The cooking time will depend on your side ingredients. In this illustration, the vegetable cooking time are very short as many can be eaten raw.
- Use the same wok, pour the sauce ingredients, use medium heat to cook the sauce ingredients until thickens. Once it thickens, add the vegetables. Off the heat and stir until well mixed. Set aside.
- Heat up adequate oil to cover the whole yam ring under medium heat, deep fry the beehoon and once the rice vermicelli float upwards, drain and set aside. Note that it may only takes 1-2 seconds to deep fry the rice vermicelli so the action has to be fast.
- Put the yam ring onto a ladle with holes. Gradually place the ladle and yam rings onto the hot oil and ensure the yam ring is submerged in the oil. Let it deep fry in this position using medium heat. If your oil cannot cover the top, use another ladle to scope the hot oil and pour on top of the yam rings. Once the yam ring is almost golden brown, INCREASE THE HEAT TO HIGH and let it deep fry until golden brown and crispy. This will force out any oil trapped inside the yam ring. It is recommended that the yam ring be fried individually . While deep frying, do not touch the yam rings unnecessary and it can be rather fragile.
- After draining, place the yam ring in the serving plate, put the filling on the yam ring and the deep fried rice vermicelli surrounding the yam ring. Garnish with roasted cashew nuts, pine nuts and coriander. The dish is ready to be served.
Remember that this recipe need not be vegetarian and I have already suggested 2 common fillings on the first section. The bigger the ring, the more difficult it is to deep fry but you can accommodate more fillings. Frankly speaking, I am unwilling to use too much oil just to deep fry a big yam ring but the choice is yours. As most people prefer the yam ring rather than the fillings, to me thicker yam ring suits me better.
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