Quick and easy Kung Pao Chicken with dried chilies, Szechuan peppercorns, and roasted peanuts. Delicious…
This crispy and fluffy Yam Ring (a.k.a. Taro/Yam Basket) filled with Kung Pao Chicken topped with cashew nuts is a classic. A must-try!
As they say, “Third time’s a charm!” 😍 This is true, at least in my case pertaining to this Yam Ring (a.k.a. Yam Basket). This is my third time attempting this challenging dish but I am happy to say that I am finally satisfied with the results. I made a small but very necessary change. Please read on…
The Yam Ring/Basket
Making and deep frying the Yam Ring/Basket can be quite challenging. The last time I prepared this dish (Prosperity Yam Basket), I mentioned two things that may affect its texture.
1. The temperature of the oil.
2. The possibility of adding more wheat starch.
It’s All in The Temperature
I decided to use the exact same recipe as the last time but adjusted the temperature of the oil as my first and fortunately final try. This time round I lowered the temperature to 300˚F to 310˚F (150˚C to 155˚C) and it worked! While I was doing the deep fry, I was ecstatic to see the fluffy strands emerging on the inside of the ring….woohoo!
Surprisingly, it only took me 12 minutes this time even though the temperature is lower. This probably had to do with the fact that I was using a lot more oil in a wok than in a deep saucepan. I probably should have added a little bit more oil so that the ring is totally immersed. Since I did not, I had to gently scoop the hot oil with my spatula over the top. I also noticed that there was very little bubbling when the ring was fully cooked even though I did not adjust the temperature of my stove at all.
Using Parchment Paper Instead of Aluminum Foil
Getting the ring into the hot oil is not easy. Hence, the need to give it a “platform” or it may break apart as you lower it into the hot oil. Some were concerned about the use of aluminum foil. I have to admit, I was concerned too but thankfully this is not something we eat everyday.
Anyway, it occurred to me that I could try using parchment paper instead, similar to deep fried Chi Pao Kai (Paper Wrapped Chicken). I figured I’ll give it a try even though I was worried that it may just float around in the hot oil. I am glad I did. For one, the ring did not stick to the paper unlike aluminum foil where it had to be carefully peeled from the base of the ring. With the parchment paper, the ring slid off easily after deep frying as seen in the recipe card below.
The Advantage of Using a Wok
The one thing good about using a wok is that you can slide the ring slowly and gently into the wok. It would be much harder to do with a deep and narrow pan although you can possibly save on the amount of oil needed. One way is to use a deep fryer with a basket where the basket can be lowered mechanically into the oil. You can see one in action in the video in this Lobak recipe.
Filling for The Yam Ring
The classic filling for Yam Ring is Kung Pao Chicken. This time round, I topped it with cashew nuts instead of peanuts but it is totally up to you. You only need a half portion of the Kung Pao Chicken recipe to fill the Yam Ring. If you decide to cook the entire portion, then serve the remaining as a side.
Similar Tools Used in Making This Yam Ring with Kung Pao Chicken
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Yam Ring with Kung Pao Chicken
- ½ portion Kung Pao Chicken
- Cut a piece of parchment 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 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 parchment paper.
- Heat sufficient vegetable oil in a wok to about 300˚F to 310˚F (150˚C to 155˚C).
- Gently slide the yam ring together with the parchment paper into the hot oil.
- Deep fry yam ring until golden brown. This should take about 12 minutes.
- Remove and place on a kitchen towel lined plate to absorbed excessive oil. Then transfer to a serving plate.
- Deep fry glass vermicelli and sprinkle it around the yam basket on the plate.
- Cook Kung Pao Chicken and transfer it into the yam ring. Serve immediately.
I consider this a success. The fluffy Yam Ring was delicious eaten with the slightly spicy Kung Pao Chicken. If you prefer to keep it vegetarian, please check out this Chap Chai (Stir Fry Mixed Vegetables. Do give it a try.