Taro Paste with Coconut Oil, Teochew (Chiu Chow) and Vegetarian Style | Hong Kong Food Blog with Recipes, Cooking Tips mostly of Chinese and Asian styles | Taste Hong Kong

Taro Paste with Coconut Oil, Teochew (Chiu Chow) and Vegetarian Style

Taro or Yam Paste with Coconut Oil, Teochew (Chiu Chow) and Vegetarian Style

For a period of time, when I had a craving for this popular Chiu Chow 潮州 dessert, I would urge myself not to. For one thing, I know that it has to be made with abundant of lard and sugar in order to be delicious. For another, I couldn’t recall a good experience of taro paste 芋泥 (some call it yam paste) in the eateries I visited.

Once, I tried it with olive oil in my kitchen, but my appetite almost refused.

And my memory seemed to have isolated the dessert for a while.

Until recently, when an enormous display of in-season taros caught my attention and when my inner voice reminded me of some newly replenished coconut oil in stock, I convinced myself to experiment again.

I lean on the lighter side
This time, the taro paste cheers up my appetite, even with no lard and reduced sugar. Twisted with coconut oil, however, it becomes suitable for vegan and vegetarian. The sweetness of my paste may be on the lighter side, so you may want to increase the sugar amount to 50 or 60 gram if you have a sweet tooth.

A texture resembling a chunky peanut butter
Other than replacing lard with coconut oil, the preparations are fairly traditional – steam the taro, mash it (I did it with the flat side of my Chinese cleaver), then cook it down to a thickened paste with coconut oil and a sweetened ginkgo-nuts-flavored sauce, while retaining some small chunky texture.

Yam Paste with Coconut Oil, Teochew (Chiu Chow) and Vegetarian Style

Substituting ginkgo nuts
Don’t put off by the presence of ginkgo nuts if they are not available in your place or you have yet to acquire the taste of it. Tell you what, it is also good to me having the paste served only with some pine nuts. You may also consider preparing the paste in advance, briefly reheating it and garnishing it with ginkgo nuts or pine nuts right before serving.

But not baby taro
I used a small half of one large unskinned taro, which is about 500g. Do not choose baby taros for this recipe as they are not starchy enough to make the paste fluffy, but they are a good small eat for the coming Festival…

Which is the Mid-Autumn Festival, falling on September 30 this year.

Everyone, happy Sunday moon watching!

  • Ingredients
  • 400g peeled taro
  • ~40g rock sugar
  • ~1 cup water
  • 15 ginkgo nuts (a spoon or two pine nuts)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 servings (~100ml each)

How to Mash Taro


Peel taro. Remember to wear hand gloves while peeling because contacting uncooked taro may cause itchy skin. Wash, pat dry and cut into about 1/2 cm slices.

Steam taro slices over high heat for about 15 minutes or until it is fork-tender. Mash them with a fork, a cleaver, or a food processor. Don’t worry about not mashing not perfectly smooth as it is this texture that would give us some pleasant bites and extra aroma.

Shell and skin ginkgo nuts like this. In a saucepan, sauté ginkgo nuts with 1 table spoon of coconut oil over low heat for about a minute, or until fragrant. Pour in rock sugar and 2/3 cup water, cook until sugar is dissolved and ginkgo nuts are cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Spoon out few pieces of ginkgo nuts for garnishing and leave the rest in the pan. If you are not using ginkgo nuts, simply dissolve sugar in 2/3 cup water.

Put pureed taro into the pan where the sugar is dissolved and add remaining 2 table spoon of coconut oil, stirring constantly again on low heat. Add remaining 1/3 cup of water bit by bit if the paste is too thick, breaking up any lumps by the back of a larger spoon. When the mixture comes to a simmer again and reaches the consistency of peanut butter, remove from heat.

Divide paste in ramekins (or serve in one larger dish), and garnish with ginkgo nuts or pine nuts.

Taro or Yam Paste with Coconut Oil, Teochew (Chiu Chow) and Vegetarian Style


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  1. Mary Moh

    Mmmm…I would love this. But then I know my friends would stop me. They told me it’s not good for wounds……sob sob. Can’t wait for my leg to be completely healed. There are so many of my favourite food that I want to eat so badly but have to avoid now. Have to keep reminding myself that patience is a virtue 😀 By the way, I wonder why I couldn’t reply to your twitter message. It won’t send…..hmmm. Thanks for the message.

  2. TasteHongKong

    @Mary Moh,
    I see, let me check that. Also thanks for writing and take care : )!

  3. Angie@Angie's Recipes

    Taros are not easy to find over here…I guess they are only available in Asian stores and usually FROZEN. This would be my kind of dessert.

  4. Lucy L

    Have a great mid-autumn festival, wish I was in HK eating lots of mooncake!
    Thanks for the recipe. I have previously used home made taro paste for filling tong yuen and they turned out great! Maybe you could try that too and share a recipe? 🙂

  5. TasteHongKong

    @Lucy L,
    You too, Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!
    Perhaps I should consult you for the recipe : ), to admit, I sometimes do it without fillings, one of my lazy attempts is this – baby tong yuen in a boozy sweet soup.

  6. mycookinghut

    I absolutely love taro paste. Being teow chew myself, my dad used to bring us to one of his favourite restaurants and never missed eating those pastries filled with taro paste!

  7. The Missing Lokness

    Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!
    Taro is in season now (at least in Asia). I miss taro… I used to eat that a lot back in Hong Kong. Fried taro in hot pot? Delicious…. If I can find some good taro in supermarket, this sounds like an awesome recipe!

  8. TasteHongKong

    @The Missing Lokness,
    You too, Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!
    Wish you could very soon locate some taros, and enjoy!

  9. Stephanie

    Happy Mid Autumn Festival!!

    I bet my boyfriend would love your version of this! He doesn’t like sweet things but he does like dessert

  10. tigerfish

    百果芋泥 love this Teochew dessert! There are versions with pumpkin and water chestnuts that I have tried and enjoyed very much too. Miss this so much!

  11. Lucy L

    oh i don’t have a recipe since i just go along without measuring. but its more or less making the same yam filling as you would here, and then press small amounts into a pancake size tong yuen, then rolling up into a ball. i then also add coconut milk into the tong shui as coconut and taro go together so well!

    i love the baby tong yuens without any fillings too!

  12. Francine

    I am going to try making this recipe since I bought a package of ginkgo nuts out of curiosity without knowing what to do with them. Now I have to figure out what taro is. I will let you know what happens.

  13. TasteHongKong

    Lucy L,
    Thanks for sharing, no worries : ).
    Agree, taro and coconut milk always go well together.

  14. TasteHongKong

    I’d love to hear how yours turn out . If possible, ask the store keeper to choose for you a starchy taro. Good luck and happy trying.

  15. Lisa H.

    Beautiful photos 😀
    My husband often mentioned about this dessert … and I have the recipe gathering dust on the bookshelf… looking at yours is a good reminder for me to start gathering ingredients to make some too 😀

  16. karlim

    Beautiful pictures, the Toro paste looks so delicious…makes me feel so hungry now =P

  17. albertocook

    It looks very good …. I can not wait to try it.
    I hope you find some recipes in my blog that will give satisfaction.

  18. Julia | JuliasAlbum.com

    So interesting to read about foods that I know nothing about. Expanding my horizon!

  19. noobcook

    Your orh nee looks delicious and healthy (not oily). Love the coconut oil instead of lard tip.

  20. Lori

    I love that this recipe gives me an excuse to experiment with taro. I don’t think I’ve had the real thing before, only taro flavored desserts such as frozen yogurt. This sounds like something I would enjoy, and thanks for the tip about the pine nuts.

  21. Lena

    my mum loves this dessert a lot but she cooks it her own way..just by adding sugar. I wonder how it taste with coconut oil..

  22. TasteHongKong

    To me, coconut oil in the taro paste does not seem to be a replacement, but rather a perfect partner, adding both smoothness and right flavor to the dessert without overpowering the taro taste. Hope you’ll soon try it out and enjoy!

  23. Ana C.

    Hi! I live in Guangzhou and don’t have access to coconut oil. I do have access to a lot of lard, however. Would I replace the coconut oil in this recipe with lard in equal proportion? Thanks!

  24. TasteHongKong

    @Ana C.
    Yes, you may replace coconut oil with lard by the same amount. To make sure it isn’t too heavy for you, try adding the remaining two spoons one by one and sample taste. Enjoy!

  25. Auratia

    What kind of coconut oil do you use? I’ve seen some in health food stores, will it do?

  26. TasteHongKong

    I use organic, extra virgin type. You may confirm with the store if it is good for cooking.