Uyen is my most favorite snack ever since childhood. I’m not exactly sure where the word Uyen came about, but my mom said, this snack belongs to the Hakka community. The Indonesian language is called Talas goreng. Talas is basically a Taro. I called it fried taro cluster because the grated taro strips that is mixed with corn starch and other ingredients is then formed into cluster before being deep-fried. It is usually served with chili sauce.
I missed it so much lately and reminiscing our trip back to my hometown 2 years ago. My father-in-law brought us to this little shop that sold Uyen and other stuff like Pecel, Gado-gado, etc. Uyen is normally eaten together with Pecel. Almost like a salad with croutons. The Uyen gives that crunch. The contrast of texture between the Pecel and Uyen is just awesome. As a matter of fact, the Uyen at this shop is well-known in our hometown. The Uyen was hot from the wok when we arrived and boy did they taste sooooo good. Such a simple food can deliver so much ecstasy. Simplicity at its best!
I finally get this wonderful recipe from my mom’s friend. This recipe is THE BOMB I must say. Can I say it taste as good as the one I taste in Medan? I almost want to say yes! This was actually someone’s secret recipe that was kept for years. She finally revealed it to my mom’s friend and now here it is….on my hand…huahahaha! (devil’s laugh). Well, enough said…. let’s get busy…..eating that is!!!
Hubby just asked me “when do I get to eat these again?” lol
FRIED TARO CLUSTER / TALAS GORENG / UYEN
- 12 oz peeled taro (grated)
- 1 Tbsp ground soy bean paste (tau cheo)
- 1 tsp of grated fresh ginger
- 3 Tbsp of corn starch (this may vary depending on the water content of the taro itself)
- 1 tsp salt
- Vegetable oil for deep-frying
- 20 dried red chilis (soaked for at least 30 minutes)- add more or less to adjust the spiciness
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3.5 oz (100 g) sugar
- 1 Tbsp vinegar
- 1 Tbsp fish sauce or more to taste
- 1/2 cup of coriander leaves with its stalk
- 1/4 cup water
To prepare the chili sauce: Ground all of the Chili's ingredients, using your food processor until they are fine. Pour to a sauce pan and bring it to boil and then lower the heat and simmer until all the sugar has dissolved (It won't be grainy anymore when you stir it)
Mix the washed Taro (using method mentioned in notes below) with the ground soy bean, grated ginger and corn starch. Mix them well. The mixture should be somewhat lumpy and you need to see if they hold up pretty nicely when you spoon it up to form a ball. It won't be a perfect ball and don't sweat it. Add more corn starch if you feel that the mixture is too dry and falling apart when you try to shape it. Kinda squeeze it together to form a ball with your palm
Heat generous amount of oil for deep-frying. Once the oil is hot enough, lower it to medium and drop one spoonful of the mixture in and fry until golden brown. If your heat is too high, it will brown quickly outside and uncooked inside. Have a taste of the one you just fried when it's cool enough and adjust seasoning if needed. Then continue to fry the rest of the mixture
WORKING WITH TARO ROOT: Direct contact with Taro may cause itchiness to your skin especially if your hands are wet. I wear gloves while peeling the skin off the Taro. Another trick you can do is by applying vinegar to your hands if you choose not to wear gloves. WASHING THE TARO ROOT: Now, you do not want to use water to wash the Taro. As I mentioned above, water and Taro equals to itchy skin. Mix the grated Taro with 1 Tbsp of salt and knead it as you are kneading a dough. Squeeze out the excess water from the Taro (Taro naturally contains water) as much as you can and discard the excess liquid. Set aside.