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What is this and how do I make it?

phyrefly44 Jan 27, 2009 06:37 PM


I had it at dimsum yesterday. I've posted it on two other boards as well. I just need someone to tell me a more specific name so I can ask for it at a restaurant, buy it at a store, make it, or google a recipe for it.

People have referred to it as "Sweet Taro Bun" and as we all know, that could be anything from a rice cake to a taro bun with puff pastry to a taro filled bread roll.

This thing is small, covered in white powder. It is a very very light purple color. Sweet. There is no filling, it is just soft light purple colored substance covered in white powder.

It is not any of the following:


If i had to say it had a crust, i would limit the "crust" to the white powder i described surrounding it. There was no bread. No steamed bun. Just soft, light purple, kind of gooey but not really sticky.

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  1. todao RE: phyrefly44 Jan 27, 2009 06:49 PM

    The description brings to mind the Chinese Coconut Balls I've seen and perhaps the white powder was coconut powder or some variation on that ingredient. They're sometimes made with red bean paste which could account for the color.

    1. janetms383 RE: phyrefly44 Jan 27, 2009 07:29 PM

      There is a Taiwanese bakery that just opened it's first American location in Irvine, CA. They have Taro buns that look just like this, but they are room temperature when you buy them, so not steamy soft, but they look like this. Taro imparts a pale purple color when in food. The Taro yogurt at the FroYo place down the street is pale purple too.

      The bakery calls them Taro buns.......

      2 Replies
      1. re: janetms383
        todao RE: janetms383 Jan 27, 2009 07:48 PM

        The Taro root as a source for the color phyrefly44 describes hit the bulls eye here too and I also thought that the Taro Bun was a ringer, but I got hung up on the part of the description that says there's no filling. I've always thought Taro buns had a filling of Taro paste - that stumped me. Now I'm hooked and I gotta know what phyrefly44 is describing. ;-}

        1. re: todao
          janetms383 RE: todao Jan 27, 2009 07:58 PM

          The Taro buns I've had from this bakery have no filling either. Closest I can describe is something like a Cha Siu Bao dough, but it doesn't have the skin and no filling.

      2. ipsedixit RE: phyrefly44 Jan 27, 2009 09:19 PM

        Those are just taro buns.

        You'll need to make some taro paste first (a mixture of mashed taro and glutinous rice flour), and then mix it with flour, yeast, egg, salt, sugar and then mix it all together, form it into balls and then steam in a bamboo steamer.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ipsedixit
          gemsquash RE: ipsedixit Feb 11, 2011 09:16 PM

          Is there a detailed recipe you could post or link to?

          I've had them at the same dim sum place phyrefly44 linked to, and I would hardly call them 'just taro buns'! People almost snatch them out the servers' hands when they see them coming. They're incredibly fluffy, light with a slight crust and melt in the mouth texture, but unfortunately there's never enough to go round. Out of more than 10 visits so far, I've only managed to taste them once.

          So if there's a recipe out there that you could share, please do!

        2. p
          phyrefly44 RE: phyrefly44 Jan 27, 2009 09:36 PM

          I found a better picture of what I am referring to:


          and i guess on second look it does have a "crust" but the one I ate must have had the filling and the crust with very similar textures as I didnt notice there was a phase change of sorts between the two.

          1. g
            gemsquash RE: phyrefly44 Feb 18, 2011 08:30 PM

            ipsedixit, if you read this thread.. do you think you could post a recipe?

            5 Replies
            1. re: gemsquash
              ipsedixit RE: gemsquash Feb 18, 2011 09:11 PM

              I don't have a recipe for you, but after consulting with my mom, I can tell you how it's generally made (my off the cuff remarks up-thread are a bit off).

              It's basically a riff on the traditional Chinese 發糕 (or fa gou).

              What you will need is the following

              - rice flour
              - white flour
              - taro paste
              - white sugar
              - baking powder
              - water
              (no yeast or eggs)

              You would need to make a simple syrup with the sugar and water, then add the other ingredients and mix well.

              Then form little balls with the mixture using the palms of your hands, then put them in a steamer and steam for about 20-30 minutes, then dust with tapioca or taro flour (the kind used for Boba teas) before serving.

              I don't have exact measurements for you as I don't make these, but if you play around with it enough it be pretty easy to come up with some precision.

              Hope that helps and good luck.

              1. re: ipsedixit
                lilgi RE: ipsedixit Feb 19, 2011 01:35 AM

                Your description sounds about right as to one that I had last summer. I had many different varieties on that day; but the one that stood out follows your description except, that I thought it was fried. Is this possible? Was also referred to by a friend as "Taro root"; I was curious to know what this was and the only description I had for her was that it reminded me of "mashed potatoes".

                Edit: Nvm, After this post, I was left with a memory of there being a crunch and I looked up some pictures:

                The filling is what I remember being similar to mashed potatoes; it's possible there could have been very little meat dispersed inside but not entirely sure. This is different from the decription of the op.
                For the op, when I googled "steamed taro buns" it yielded many more results similar to your description rather than "sweet taro buns".

                1. re: lilgi
                  ipsedixit RE: lilgi Feb 19, 2011 09:49 AM


                  There are really many different kinds of taro buns.

                  The ones you describe are fried and do indeed have a separate taro filling. And it is indeed crunchy, almost like a taro fritter, if you will.

                  From the the description provided by the OP, however, the taro pastry that was being described did not have a taro filling, but was made simply with taro mixed into the dough. These are not deep fried, but are made from rice flour and allowed to rise in the steaming process, so it's almost bread-like with a faux-mochi like texture.

                  1. re: ipsedixit
                    lilgi RE: ipsedixit Feb 19, 2011 10:20 AM

                    Thanks, initially I didn't realize there were different varieties, but next time I see her I will ask specifically what it's called in her language (Cantonese). I'll seek out the ones posted by the op my next trip to Chinatown.

                2. re: ipsedixit
                  gemsquash RE: ipsedixit Feb 19, 2011 10:29 AM

                  They were definitely not fried but I think baked rather than steamed, and with taro filling in the middle. Like a very soft, delicate bao. I googled some more and looks like they are also called 'snow mountain bun', but only reference to dim sum places, no recipe to be found :(
                  Here's a picture of a halved one to show what it looks like on the inside (you can see how soft and easily squished it is)

                  But thank you ipsedixit I will see how your guidelines work out - it may not be the same product but still sounds good.

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