Little Shaggy Pie
Лохматый пирожок из таро! Так я прозвала этот dumpling, when saw it for the first time in the picture 10 years ago. I became obsessed — needed to find the recipe and try making it. If I remember correctly (the original is not available anymore), I found a Chinese recipe and had somebody help me translate it. It was challenging and fun!
Choose the Right Ingredients
There are two important ingredients in this recipe: taro root and wheat starch. They can’t be substituted. In Austin, both of them can be found at H-Mart, Ranch 99, and MT Supermarket.
There are two distinct types of taro available at the stores — smaller (the size of potato) and larger (a pineapple size). Besides the size, they are different in taste and texture. Smaller taro is white when sliced, and its texture is tender and slimy. Larger taro is white with pink fibers, and its texture is firm, similar to a potato. The one with pink fibers is our taro for this recipe. Sometimes it is sold whole — already peeled, cut into smaller chunks, and vacuum packed. We don’t need much, so the second option looks more attractive.
Wheat starch can’t be substituted with either wheat flour or corn starch. It’s a by-product in the manufacture of wheat gluten. Just like wheat flour, it is made of wheat but doesn’t contain gluten. Just like corn starch, it doesn’t contain gluten, but its thickening power is twice lower. (More about wheat starch.)
You Need Culinary Thermometer
The trickiest part of making taro dumplings is deep-frying. First of all, you need enough oil to submerge the dumplings completely. Secondly, and obviously, choose the right oil — with a high smoking point. (My fav is avocado oil, though it’s expensive.) Finally, do this step with a thermometer because the temperature is critical for success.
The temp should be high — 375F-390F. Since we are doing it at home and using the min amount of oil in a small pan, the best approach is to fry 1-2 dumplings at a time. More than two dumplings will drop the oil temperature way too quickly. Constantly check the temperature and give it time to come back to the desired level. If you see that the skin goes off, the oil temp is too low. If you see that the skin doesn’t get enough shaggy, the oil temp is too high.