Kung Pao Crispy Yam Basket: A Chinese Restaurant Dish To Impress
Kung Pao Crispy Yam Basket or Yam Ring is made with deep fried fluffy taro and filled with stir fried boneless meat cubes in Kung Pao Sauce. This beautiful dish never fails to impress especially when served on a bed of crispy fried rice vermicelli. It is also the perfect dish for occasions like wedding dinners, Chinese New Year and other special occasions.
Also known as Prosperity Yam Basket or 佛钵 Fatt Putt, this is such a popular dish that almost all Chinese restaurants and Zhi Char stalls will have this on their menu. The good news is, this Kung Pao Yam Basket is a dish that you can easily make at home too.
How To Make Crispy Yam Basket / Yam Ring
To make Kung Pao Yam Ring, we need to first make the yam ring or yam basket. Then make the kung Pao filling to fill the inside of the yam ring. To start off, the yam is first peeled, sliced into pieces, steamed and then mashed into a paste. In another bowl, mix boiling water into wheat starch to form into a wheat starch dough. Knead in the wheat starch mixture into the yam paste. This will help to hold the yam paste together.
After, add seasonings to enhance the flavour of the yam paste. Last, add in shortening and mix into a non sticky dough. The shortening helps to create the honeycomb texture on the yam ring. Be sure to knead the dough until everything is fully combined so the yam ring can be extra crispy.
Important Tips To Make The Perfect Yam Ring – Crispy On The Outside, Fluffy In The Inside
The mashed yam dough is carefully hand formed into a ring and deep fried to a golden brown crisp outside. A good yam ring or yam basket is crispy on the outside at the same time fluffy inside. It must showcase the beautiful honeycomb strands that encased the ring. So, the oil temperature must be just right to deep fry the yam ring.
Drop a piece of the yam dough into the oil. If it disintegrates, the oil is not hot enough. Or, if it does not spread at all, the oil is too hot. If it floats to the top, the oil is just right and you can begin to deep fry the yam ring. The thin crisp layer outside sealed in the yam’s natural sweetness and kept the grease outside.
Also make sure to use enough oil to totally submerged the yam ring when deep frying. When the yam ring is fried till golden brown, remove from oil, drained and place on serving plate while we prepare the filling.
A Popular Yam Basket Filling: Savoury Kung Pao
The choice of filling for this yam basket is delicious Kung Pao Meat (See our earlier recipe on Stir Fry Kung Pao Chicken for more detailed instructions).
For this Kung Pao filling, bite size meat are marinated, seared and then stir fried in a hot wok with dried chillies, sliced garlic and onions. The premixed sauce is then added, bring to a boil and stir to evenly coat all the meat and other ingredients. This amazing Kung Pao Sauce infuses a tinge of savouriness, sweetness and sourness into the meat mixture.
The stir fried Kung Pao filling are then carefully heaped in a colourful pile into the crispy yam basket and the dish is ready to be served. So Enjoy!
Kung Pao Crispy Yam Basket (Yam Ring) 宫保芋头圈
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Ingredients For Yam Basket:
- 300 gram yam, peeled, sliced and steamed
- 60 grams wheat starch
- 90 ml boiling water
- 60 grams shortening
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
Seasonings For Yam Basket:
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
- 1/4 tsp five spice powder
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 35 g rice vermicelli, bihun
Kung Pao Filling:
- 300 grams boneless and skinless meat, chicken or pork, cubed
- 8 dried chillies, soaked, seeded and cut into pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 5 slices ginger
- 2 spring onion, white part (diced), green part (3 cm length)
- 50 grams cashew nuts / peanuts, toasted
- 3 tbsp cooking oil
- 2 tsp soya sauce
- 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tsp cooking oil
Kung Pao Sauce:
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp black vinegar
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp water
- Peel the yam and cut them into thin slices. Briefly wash, drain and arrange on steaming tray. Place into prepared steamer.
- Steam over high heat for 20 to 25 mins till soft. Test for doneness by using a chopstick or fork. Then transfer onto a mixing bowl.
- Mash the cooked yam while still hot with a potato masher and form into a yam dough.
- In a separate mixing bowl, add in wheat starch. Slowly pour in boiling water, stirring continuosly until all the water in incorporated. Knead until a wheat starch paste is formed. The texture should be smooth and soft. Set aside for 5 minutes.
- Mix wheat starch paste into the yam paste.Then add salt, ground pepper, sugar and five-spice powder. Mix well together.
- Add in shortening and knead the mixture into a dough. The dough is ready when it doesn't stick to your hands. Divide the yam dough into 2 round portions. Wrap in cling wrap and leave in the refrigerator for about 1 hour until it is semi-solid so its easier to handle. Then we are ready to shape the yam paste dough into a ring!
- To do this, first remove the cling wrap from the chilled yam dough. Dust your hand with a little wheat starch. Just push your thumb into the middle of the round yam paste on both sides of the round yam dough. Then gently using your fingers, press and push the hole in the middle outwards to shape into a ring. Just sprinkle some wheat starch if the yam paste starts to stick to your finger.
- Another method to form the yam basket is to gently shape the yam dough into a long log. Then flatten the surface and join the two ends to form into a ring. Sprinkle with some wheat starch or flour on the work surface or yam dough if the yam sticks to your finger. And we are ready to fry the yam basket!
- Heat up a pot/wok of cooking oil to deep fry the yam ring using medium heat. The height of the oil used has to fully cover the height of the yam basket. To test if the oil is sufficiently hot, drop a piece of yam dough into the oil. If it stays at the bottom of the oil for a second before floating to the top, the oil is ready for frying.
- First fry some vermicelli for garnishing. When oil is hot enough, put the vermicelli in and immediately remove the vermicelli from the oil once they puff up and turn off the heat. Place on serving plate.
- Then heat up the oil again over medium heat. Carefully place the yam basket onto a big ladle with holes and fully submerge it into the hot oil. Deep fried till golden brown and crispy. Increase the heat when about done and remove from oil. Drain and place on top of the fried vermicelli. And we are ready to stir fry ingredients to be placed inside the yam basket!
- First toss and roast cashew nuts till golden brown and fragrant. Remove and set aside to use later.
- Marinade dice chicken/pork for 30 minutes. Then stir fry and toss meat till turns white. Then dish out and set aside.
- Heat up additional oil and saute ginger slices, garlic slices, dried chillies and green onions till fragrant. Add in the fried meat and cashew nuts. Give a quick stir and add in the kung pao sauce. Bring to a boil and stir to mix everything together. Lastly toss in the fresh spring onion, mix well and our kung pao filling is done!
- Place the yam basket on top of the crispy rice vermicelli, and add the stir fried kung pao meat dices into the yam basket. Garnish as desired and serve immediately.
Making Yam Basket Dough:
Making Yam Basket:
Frying Yam Basket:
Stir Fry Kung Pao Filling:
Assemble Yam Basket:
- Choose yam that does not contain a lot of water. Otherwise it will not be suitable to make the yam ring. Choose yam that is of bigger size. Discard the bottom part of yam as it will be a bit tough.
- It’s important to use hot boiling water to mix into the wheat starch so the wheat starch can be cooked before mixing it into the yam to make the yam dough.
- Try to ensure the thickness of the yam ring is about the same all around.
- Put the yam basket on a big ladle with holes before deep frying as this can prevent the bottom of the yam ring from getting burnt.
- To make the perfect yam basket, the temperature of the oil is the key to success. You can either test using a wooden chopstick or dropping a bit of yam dough into the oil. When oil is ready, bubbles will appear around the chopstick. The yam dough will float to the surface without disintegrating if oil is ready.