Remember I shared my crab cake recipe as a party food idea for the Super Bowl? Well, I developed a vegetarian version for my husband Lulu as well. I mixed shredded taro roots and rice and added green peas for extra color. Visually, they looked pretty similar to crab cakes, and their texture resembled the "real thing" too. The only difference, which you probably already guessed is the taste. But Lulu doesn't like crab, so that's a good thing!
Check back this entire week for my vegetarian dishes in preparation of Tết, the Asian New Year celebration.
Servings: 6 servings
1 pound fresh taro root
4 tablespoons canola oil
1½ cups sushi rice, cooked
¼ cup fried yellow onions
¼ cup green peas, thawed
¼ cup potato flour
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon salt
2 cloves garlic, freshly grated
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, freshly grated
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon red chile pepper
½ teaspoon mango powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground
Boiling the taro:
Note: To prevent any itchiness, wear food service disposable gloves. Peel and cut the taro in half if they're too large.
Wash the taro and place in a large pot. Add cold water until the taro roots is barely covered. It's important to start with cold water so they cook evenly. Bring to a boil, add 2 teaspoons of salt and reduce the heat to medium-high. As soon as the water reaches a boil, cook for about 15-20 minutes. Test, using a fork; the taro roots should be tender. Remove from the pot. Drain thoroughly and let cool a little (do not rinse). Once they're cool enough to handle and have dried completely, coarsely grate them using a cheese grater. Gather the shredded taro in a mixing bowl.
Making the taro cakes:
Blend the rice in a food processor. Add 4 to 6 tablespoons water for a smoother flow.
In the same bowl containing the taro, add the rice, green peas, red chile powder, caramelized onions, ginger, sugar, mango powder and turmeric powder. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
Grease the disposable gloves with oil, then form 24 thick patties.
Heat the oil in a cast iron pan for about 2 minutes over high heat. Wait until the oil is slightly bubbly.
Arrange about 6 to 7 taro cakes at a time (depending on how much space you have) in the pan. Lower the heat to medium-low. Leave them alone for about 1-2 minutes. When you see the edges start to dry and get firm, take a small flat spatula and lift around the edges: they should be slightly browned. Flip them over and cook for another 2 minutes until golden. Transfer to a cooling rack.