Thursday, May 26, 2005

Taro Puff(Woo Kok)

In Malaysia 'Woo Tau' in cantonese is called YAM but it is TARO here in the States and yam is sweet potato. Fresh taro is available but i have found the frozen ones from Thailand to be better. I have tried a few recipes and added mung beans to the pastry in one recipe which does not alter the taste but in fact enhanced the fuffliness to the pastry. The recipe below is the original but if you wish to use mung beans, reduced 4 ozs of taro and replaced with soaked mung beans.

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  • 20 ozs taro(cut into thin slices and steam)
  • 3 ozs wheat starch
  • 3 ozs boiling water
  • 6 ozs shortening/lard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 ozs sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ammonia powder


  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp chopped onion
  • 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 4 ozs prawn meat deveined and cubed
  • 8 ozs lean meat, cut into small cubes
  • 2 tbsp of baked beans
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp black soya sauce
  • 1 tsp oyster sauce
  • salt to taste


To cook the filling:

  1. Heat oil and fry the garlic slightly and add in the flour. Stir until flour is cooked.
  2. Add in the lean meat, fry until meat is no more pink, then add in prawns. When prawns are cooked, add in the rest of the ingredients.

To prepare the pastry:

  1. Blend the wheat starch with the boiling water or put 3 ozs water, salt and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn off heat and add in the wheat starch, stir thoroughly until the wheat starch is cooked.
  2. Mash the steam taro while it is still hot Add in the cooked wheat starch , ammonia and lard and knead till smooth.
  3. Divide dough into small pieces, flatten each piece, place filling in centre, fold and seal edges.
  4. Heat oil until 35o f and deep fry puffs and serve hot. (the temperature of the oil is very important. too low - the puff will disintegrate and likewise if the oil is too hot)


Anonymous said...

Your Woo Kok looks very nice. I love them but sometimes it has a very strong ammonia flavour. Also can you tell me what is ammonia powder?


lilyng said...


i hope this link answer your question on ammonia powder

atina said...

I also live in US North East Region, I wonder where can we purchase the ammonia powder ?
thank you.

lilyng said...


i too could not get them in the asian stores but i know they sell them but it is written in chinese. i ask for some from the restaurant which we frequent for dim sum and they gave me a small tub. when i went home to malaysia i bought some back.

i heard from my friends that it is available online.

Anonymous said...

hi lily
i got a taro root from the market last sunday but can't seem to find the wheat starch. can i use something else in it's place? wants to try the recipe before the taro go bad:/ plus i have the shortening with butter flavor i guess that's ok ? found the chinkiang vinegar but out of ribs hahaa have to try next week

lilyng said...


if you could get taro root, the store will have wheat starch which in cantonese is 'tung mein fun' and in french 'farine de frament'.

if you could not get wheat starch, you could try cornstarch/cornflour

Anonymous said...

hi Lily,
just made your taro i understand why the wheat's to stablize the taro so u can shape it ,right? much like making the potato croquette.when first taro hit the oil the surface started to fly that normal? it ended up seperated from the lump n flow to top of oil and the taro brown .it was a little sweet think i will use less sugar next time but it was good even if it was a little greasy.i didn't find the ammonia powder.thanks !ribs next :D

lilyng said...


yes, this recipe for the filling is sweet as this is how i like it to be and by all means adjust it to your taste.

do not fry on very high heat and do not crowd. give space for dough to expand and when the puffs are firm, crank up the heat and fry till golden brown

Anonymous said...

when looking for ammonia on the Internet, either look for baker's ammonia or ammonium carbonate.

it's a standard ingredient in most commercial baking powders.

it's an optional ingredient for the woo gok. mine generally fall apart when frying if i use it, so i omit it.

however, use must use the dough the same day that it is made. it doesn't lend well when made the day before deep frying.

it's like making a dough from mashed potatoes that has been refrigerated overnight. the starch congeals or sets and the results just aren't the same.

lilyng said...


thanks for the good advise.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lily

Would like to know whether the woo kok has a kind of spider web kind of pastry on the outer layer ie similar to the ones served in the dim sum restaurant.


lilyng said...


yes, this recipe will make the spiderweb type which is served for dim sum if the temperature of the oil is right.

Kathryn said...

Hi Lily, I stumble on your blog and right now exploring your recipes with great interest. I wondering which factor results in the forming of the "spider web"? is it the oil temperature or is it the ammonia powder? your given link to ammonia powder states that we can replace it with equal amount of double acting baking powder, do you think it might affect the spider web forming if i use double acting baking powder? or if i omit ammonia or the double acting baking powder, the spider web won't form? Thanks in advance for your advice.

lilyng said...


there are many factors for the forming of spiderweb - the oil has to hot enough and do not crowd - meaning don't fry too many at one time. you would have to use ammonia or double action baking powder. omitting these leavener, spiderweb will not form.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lily, Can I use ENO instead of ammonia for the woo kok?

Anonymous said...

LOL @ Eno. Why not just use Alka Seltzer?

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