Sunday, December 29, 2013

Steamed Malanga Cake--Auntie's Style (makes two 9-inch cakes)

steamed malanga cake
My maternal second aunt, Di Y made this cake when I last visited Vietnam in Spring 2013. She used a type of taro called môn cao in Vietnamese. While shopping in an Asian market in Boston recently I saw these beautiful, fresh and giant looking taro called malanga and decided to make the cake inspired by my aunt. Malanga is a root vegetable and it resembles taro. I think it tastes similar to taro. It looks similar to môn cao except it is 3 times its Asian size! At least I have never seen one in Vietnam that weighs 6 to 7 pounds each!  

When I asked my aunt how she makes these she said she added môn cao, coconut milk, dried shrimp, peanuts, scallions, garlic and ginger. This is basically how we provide each other recipes in my family! If you are lucky you may get more information such as "add a little of this and a little of that"!! I was sure she added rice flour to bind everything together but I could not remember so I sent an email back to cousin Sieu Hui (her daughter) to confirm.  She responded and here is the delicious cake! How did we ever lived without email?!

Earlier this week I made a batch but added too much fluid and not enough rice flour. That batch was edible but came out too soft. I am embarrassed that I actually gave some of this bad batch to a senior, highly respected colleague. My husband told me that I have to give him my second batch so he knows how it should come out. I hope he still wants to try my food! 

For the best result, keep this cake refrigerated at least 6 hours or overnight and then cut into squares and lightly fry them on each side until golden brown. I had a few very good friends/neighbors over last night and served them these fried squares. They came out nice but I think they tasted much better the next day. The refrigeration kept the cake firm and they fried nicely. 

fried malanga cake pieces for breakfast,
DELICIOUS with a slight crispy skin!
Steamed Malanga Cake--Auntie's Style (makes two 9-inch cakes)


400 mL (13.5 fl oz) coconut milk, plus 125 mL coconut milk or water
2 C rice flour
1/4 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 lbs malanga, shredded
2 oz dried shrimp, soaked for 30 minutes, rinsed and drained
2 oz raw peanuts, boiled for about 20-25 minutes
9-10 oz ground pork
1/3 C chopped scallions
1 tsp grated ginger
3 garlic cloves, smashed and finely chopped


1) Stir coconut milk, water, rice flour, sugar and salt until well blended, set aside.
2) Mix shredded malanga, shrimp, peanuts, pork, scallions, ginger and garlic until well blended.
3) Add #1 into #2 and stir until well blended.
4) Pour the mixture into a 9-inch cake pan or a container that is able to handle the steam and heat.
5) Gently pat the mixture into the pan with a spatula to remove the air.
5) Add water to the pan or wok about 2 inches, cover pan or wok and steam for about 40 minutes.

mix most of the ingredients together (step #2)
cut a piece of parchment paper or banana leave (s)
to fit inside the size of your container
(this way the cake will be
easy to remove once it is cooked)
giant malanga
(the inside flesh has beautiful lavender pattern)
I placed a few cookie molds on the bottom of my pan,
filled it with water  up to about 2 inches,
filled my container with the prepared malanga
and placed it in the pan to steam
*You may add water up to a third of your steaming container. If you must add more water during the steaming process be careful not to injure your hand. Never put your hand over the steam, you can get very bad blisters! 
*The steaming time depends on the thickness of your cake.  
*You can use any containers that can handle the steaming heat. I have only round containers in my kitchen. 
*Once the cake is cooled completely you can cut it up into 2-inch pieces and fry with a little oil, 2-3 minutes over medium high heat on each side or until they are golden brown.
*I did not eat these with a sauce. However, you can make one if you like. If I use a sauce for this I prefer making one using vinegar, light soy sauce, hot chili and a little sugar.
*You can make this cake using daikon (radish). My mother always makes these small steamed daikon cakes for us. They are always delicious. Steamed daikon and taro cakes are eaten regularly in my Teochew family.

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