Szechuan peppercorns are the outer pods of small, reddish brown aromatic prickly ash berries. It…
This Prosperity Yam Basket is made with fluffy taro and filled with Stir Fry Mixed Vegetables. Perfect for Chinese New Year and special occasions.
This Prosperity Yam Basket is one of the most recognizable Chinese vegetarian dishes in the world. Anyone who has had a Chinese style vegetarian spread will remember this as one of the central presentations. It is a “basket” filled to the brim with colorful vegetables sitting on a bed of white fried glass vermicelli.
The Yam Basket
Many are curious as to how and what the “basket” is made of. It is none other than fluffy taro flavored with five-spice powder and mixed with wheat starch to hold it together. The crunchy exterior and fluffy interior of the Yam Basket complements really well with the stir fried vegetables that come with it. It is a very satisfying combination in both visual and culinary presentation.
Preparation of the “Basket”
The dish takes a little effort to make and most of the work is in making the “basket”. The taro has to be steamed, mashed, shaped, and deep fried. Frying the basket is no small feat. Apparently, if the temperature of the oil is just right, you will get more fluffy strands. I made this twice and this second one is better that the first. It is definitely more fluffy but I suspect I may need to use more wheat starch. For now, I am quite satisfied. I will update this recipe when I get a chance to give it another try.
People often eat the filling and leave the “basket” but I personally enjoy eating the Yam Basket because I love most things made with taro. If done right, the “basket” should really be the “star” and not the filling. I think it is best to make the basket thinner all around. In this case, less is definitely more. A thinner “basket” also ensures that the taro is properly cooked through.
If you want to keep this dish vegetarian, then my Chap Chai (Stir Fry Mixed Vegetables) is a good choice. I am using half a portion of that recipe today for the filling. Another popular filling is Cashew Nut Chicken which is similar to this Kung Pao Chicken but with cashew nuts instead of peanuts. There are many possibilities and it really comes down to a matter of preference.
Similar Tools Used in Making This Prosperity Yam Basket
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- ½ portion Chap Chai (Stir Fry Mix Vegetables)
- Cut a piece of aluminum foil about 6 inches in diameter. Cut a small hole in the center.
- Steam cubed taro for 8 minutes. Remove and mashed with potato masher in a big bowl.
- In a separate small bowl, combine wheat starch with 1½ to 2 tablespoons of boiling water. Mix to form a paste. Transfer this paste to the big bowl with mashed taro.
- Add salt, ground pepper, sugar, five-spice powder, and vegetable oil to the mashed taro and wheat starch paste. Mix well into a non-sticky dough.
- Sprinkle work surface with a little wheat starch. Transfer dough to the work surface and form a strip about 12 inches long x 2½ inches wide x ½ inch thick.
- Shape the strip of dough into a ring. Place this yam ring onto prepared aluminum foil.
- Heat sufficient vegetable oil in a deep saucepan or pot to about 325˚F (165˚C). Gently lower the yam ring into hot oil. Deep fry yam ring until golden brown. This should take about 15 minutes. Remove and transfer onto a plate.
- Deep fry glass vermicelli and sprinkle it around the yam basket on the plate.
- Cook Chap Chai and transfer it into the yam basket. Serve immediately.