In China, dinners usually finished with a sweet soup, small sweet pastry or a fresh fruit platter. The meal is mostly focused on the savory dishes and it is very rare for my family to even order dessert after the main course.
Enter the Taro.
Taro Paste, or Yu Ni, is one of the most popular foods from my home town of Fuzhou. Ranking up there with Fuzhou fish balls and lychee pork, Yu Ni is a dish that is wheeled out any time someone visits Fuzhou for the first time. It is different to many desserts you are probably familiar with - it is very dense, sticky, and, as you can see, not the prettiest thing to look at. Yu Ni is usually served warm in a big bowl and diners can scoop spoonfuls from the middle.
When cooled, Yu Ni can also be used as fillings for pastries such as mooncake and buns.
As my current schedule is filled with baby Charlie, I haven't had time to make mooncakes for mid-autumn festival this year so I have opted to remind my family of home with this dish.
Judging from the ingredients, I hope it is obvious that this isn't the healthiest dish in the world. This is why Yu Ni is a food reserved only for celebrations or when there are visitors to your hometown.
What is a specialty dessert in your hometown? Do you always finish a meal with a sweet dish?
1kg taro (frozen or fresh)
400g white sugar
180ml vegetable oil
1. If using fresh taro, remove the skin and any hard bits. Cut into small pieces (around 2cm x 2cm x 5cm).
2. Steam the taro pieces until soft. The taro should break easily when poked with a chopstick.
3. Mash the taro while it is still hot. The taro should have a smooth texture with small lumps. If you want a smoother, paste-like texture, place the taro into a blender until your desired texture.
4. Place taro paste, oil, and sugar into a pot. Cook and stir over medium heat for 15-20 minutes until the mixture turns becomes thick and glossy.
5. Serve warm as a dessert, or set aside to cool if you are using as a mooncake filling.
Note: If you are making taro paste for dessert, I would recommend making a half batch. Otherwise, it gets a bit much. Trust me.
It is best to find a taro that is floury in texture. They are the best.