Today my family is in for a treat. Because I am doing this post for Chinese New Year dinner, my family gets to enjoy this crispy melt-in-the-mouth yam basket pre-Chinese New Year dinner. Like any other food served during Chinese New Year, it has an auspicious meaning. The yam basket/fatt putt is filled to the brim signify an overflowing of fortune (phoon woon put woon 盘满钵满 in Cantonese).
The yam basket derives its name from the Buddhist alms bowl (fatt putt). It is no wonder the yam basket bears resemblance to this said bowl. This dish is originally created as a vegetarian dish with ingredients such as carrots, mushrooms, bell peppers, bamboo shoots and cashew nuts. Nowadays you could practically fill anything that you fancy inside.
A good yam basket is crispy on the outside at the same time fluffy inside. It must showcase the beautiful fluffy strands that encased the ring. Not an easy feat since fire control is essential here. If you have a thermometer, the temperature should be around 150C. But like most home cooks, we cook by feel. Here's the pointer to see if the oil temperature is right: drop a piece of the yam into the oil. If it disintegrates, the the oil is not hot enough. If it does not spread at all, the oil is too hot. Another challenge is to fry the yam basket whole. While the Chinese restaurants uses bamboo mat to hold the yam ring when putting in, we home cooks have to be creative. I used aluminium foil with cut holes.
I normally create my own recipes but for this scrumptious yam basket, I phoned my faraway hubby. He makes the perfect yam basket. Of course, the recipe comes in large quantity and I have to painstakingly reduce it and omit the msg for home cooking. I was pretty satisfied with the results and proceeded to take photographs. Upon showing my hubby the pictures, he said that the heat was too high when frying resulting in lesser fluffy strands. So I fried another mini yam ring to show all of you it is supposed to look. Gong Xi Fa Chai!
Chinese New Year Dinner: Yam Basket/Fatt Putt 佛钵 （盘满钵满 ）Makes 2 medium yam basket
360 g yam, diced and steamed
180 g wheat starch (tang mein)
180 g chicken stock (original uses water)
90 g lard (pork oil) (click here to find out how to make your own lard)
90 g shortening
1/8 tsp five spice powder
1/4 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
oil to fry
stir-fry dish of your choice to be put inside the ring
meehoon (rice vermicelli)
1. Steam yam for about 10 minutes until cooked. Meanwhile, boil chicken stock. Add chicken stock to wheat starch and stir with a fork until combined.
3. Add in all the other ingredients and seasoning and work the mixture into a dough with your hands. The dough is ready when it doesn't stick to your hands. Make holes on the dough (apparently for it to cool faster) and put in the chiller for it to cool.
4. Remove dough and use the dough to make your desired ring on a piece of aluminium foil. Make some holes on the aluminium foil so that oil could circulate.
|Not enough oil initially. I have to add until the whole ring is submerged|
6. Add meehoon into the hot oil. The meehoon should expand beautifully. Quickly remove from the hot oil and drain well.
7. Put meehoon on a plate and the fried yam basket on top. Then fill it up with your choice of stir-fry until the brim symbolising an overflowing of goods.
1. Oil control is very important when frying this yam basket. Use clean oil for nicer looking yam basket.
2. The oil must totally immerse the yam ring, hence, a lot of oil is necessary. Find your desired pot/wok that is not too wide to save on oil, but at the same time allows you to remove the yam basket easily when cooked.
3. The basket and fried meehoon absorb a lot of liquid. Do prepare more gravy for your stir-fry if it is intended to be put into the basket.
Would you like a wonderful desert to go with this dish for your Chinese New Year dinner?
Molten Lava Black Sesame Tang yuan
Pumpkin Tang Yuan