Cooking log 48 : Stacked Taro & Braised Pork Flip Over(Hakka Kau Yuk)

Not a dish for every day as the ingredients do not come by easy, nor the making simple.

Taro is a type of potato very common in Asia, and apparently in the Southern atmosphere too like in Oceania. The edible part is the corm, while the ones easily found in the market are the child generation corms.

So what is a child-taro you may wonder….(I also learned about this recently)

Taro plant starts with 1 main corm that has leaves on it head and that is the parent-taro. And from that grow the child-taro. Sometimes from child-taro, grows the grandchild-taro. Here is a cute illustration.

In Japan the parent-taro were rarely harvested or sold, besides around new year. In my home country Malaysia it is quite the opposite, parent-taro is the main player. To one point I thought those were 2 different species of taro. The taste and texture are quite different as well. Child-taro tends to be sticky, smooth and watery, lacking fluffiness hence better suit for stew and slow cook recipe. While the parent-taro is dry and fluffy with great taste of its own, would make great dish and fried, braised or steamed for dessert. Savory taro cake in Malaysia uses parent-taro exclusively.

I came across a parent-taro while i was shopping for new year. After much thinking as I do not enjoy the itchy hands from taro enzyme when processing taro, I decided it would worth it to do some dishes that I have not had for a very long time. Of course, being sensible i bought some plastic gloves with it.

It is a big taro so I only used 1/3 of it for the pork flip over. The rest I deep fried half and steamed half to be store for another day. One thing about taro is one the day you peal it, you have to cook them if not it will turn black from oxidation.

So what is Pork flip over(Kau Yuk)? As you can see on the first photo in the post showing its serving state, this dish is cooked in a mold and flipped over onto a plate at serving. I only know 2 variation of it one with taro, another with a specific Chinese dried vegetable called “Mui Choi”. Cooking it is not very complicated but requires a lot of procedures.

First the taro is pealed and sliced into 15mm thickness and for width the size that fit the mold. While doing that, the pork chunk is cooked in water with a piece of anise until it is 70% cooked then sliced into similar dimension of the taro. Leaving some rawness in the pork allows it to take on flavor better during the braising process in steamer. Sauce are prepared with soy sauce, dark soy sauce, honey, sugar, salt, a little dash of cooking alcohol and minced garlic(around 2 cloves) well mixed.

When all three components are ready, comes the assembling. Each piece of pork and taro are dipped into the sauce before being arranged in the mold in layers of pork-taro-pork-taro and so on. Remaining sauce are poured into the mold after all are stacked. Then onto the steamer for 30mins.

After steaming, carefully pour out the watery sauce in the mold by capping the top with a plate. The watery sauce will then be reduced into sticker gravy, with its taste adjusted if necessary. Then it is the moment to flip over the mold, pour over the gravy and finish with spring onion or cilantro as garnish. Heavenly indeed.

This is not a simple nor common dish. In fact my last memory of having it is in a small town restaurant in Malaysia over 10 years ago. If you have the chance to get your hands on good taro, do try this out. All the effort is worth it.

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