Updated: Feb 29, 2020
As far as I can remember, my aunt's mother, or uncle's mother-in-law, makes the best yam cake (pardon on the family tree complication, LOL!). It is like I'd died and gone to heaven with every bite. The texture is very smooth with a pack full of flavors, unlike those commercial factory-made ones. I tried to replicate her yam cake but nowhere near her standards.
Perhaps, I do prefer my yam cake to have more bite which is why I chose to dice the yam finely rather than puree it. I also added a secret ingredient which adds another funky tone to the flavors. Well, it isn't a secret anymore as I am sharing this recipe with you fine. Dried scallops! I am not sure about this claim, but traditionally a Chinese sausage is usually used. I personally do not like the smell nor the taste of a Chinese sausage tho, which led me to choose an alternative (dried scallops) instead. Little did I know, that alternative is the game-changer.
I do not know the origins of this cake tho. It is largely available in any Chinese dim sum eateries and rumors have it that every single eatery in Hong Kong has each's a unique style of making, some are semi-crunchy and some are, like this recipe, steamed for a period of time. Guess you have to find your own preference for yam cake. Without much delay, let's get started with the recipe.
Dried Shrimp, 50g
Dried Chinese Black Mushroom, 8
Dried Scallops, 50g
Canola / Vegetable / Peanut Oil, For Frying About 100ml
Red Onion Finely Sliced Into Rings, 1
Yam / Taro Peeled Finely Diced, 500g
Chinese 5 Spice, 1 TSP
Sea Salt, Pinch
White Pepper, Pinch
Light Soy Sauce, 1 TBSP
Garlic Finely Minced, 3 Cloves
Rice Flour, 200g
Sriracha, 1/2 TBSP
Kecap Manis, 1 TBSP
Scallions / Green Onions Finely Sliced, A Handful
Red Chili Deseeded Finely Sliced, A Handful
Rectangle / Square Deep Dish Cake Pan
Cast Iron Skillet / Pan
Heavy Sauce Pot
Divide the water equally into 2 separate bowls.
Soak dried shrimps and mushrooms in the water for at last 30 mins.
Prepare a steamer.
Transfer the dried scallops into a heatproof bowl.
Steam for at least 15 to 20 mins or until the scallops are fork-tender.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool down.
Remove the dried shrimps and mushrooms from water.
*Do not discard the water as it is needed at a later stage.*
Finely chop the dried shrimps and set aside.
Finely dice the mushrooms and set aside.
Once the scallops are cooled, tear the scallops into shreds using your hands and set aside.
In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, add the oil.
*To check if the temperature of the oil is ready, place a wooden chopstick into the oil.
If bubbles start to form, the temperature is ready for frying.*
Add in the onion rings.
As soon as the onion rings start to turn golden brown, remove from heat and transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and set aside.
Add the yam into the same skillet (with the remaining oil).
Saute until the yam starts to soften.
Remove from heat and transfer into a large mixing bowl.
Season with Chinese 5 spice, salt and pepper.
Still using the same skillet with the remaining oil, add in the dried shrimps, mushrooms and scallops.
Stir to combine well.
Add in light soy sauce and garlic.
Saute until aromatic.
Transfer into the bowl together with the yam.
Add in half of the fried onions.
Mix to combine well.
Add the water stock (from soaking the dried shrimps and mushrooms) into a pot over medium heat.
Gradually, sieve in the rice flour while whisking to combine.
Stir to combine well and cook until the batter thickens.
Add in the yam mixture.
Stir to combine well.
Lightly grease the cake pan with oil.
Transfer the mixture into the cake pan.
Prepare a steamer.
Steam for at least 45 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.
Remove from heat and allow it to cool down completely before slicing and serving, at least 1 hr.
Mix sriracha with kecap manis in a small dipping saucer.
Serve with scallions, red chili, the remaining fried onion and the sriracha dipping sauce.