My all time favourite thing about the Chinese New Year is how families make the effort to visit far and wide; catch up and stay in touch.
When family and friends come by; it is expected of us to have a couple of nice snacks; temptingly displayed for guests to munch on while they laugh, chat, and ..... *whispers* ...gamble *cheeky grin*. Hehe...that's where these delicious Chinese new year tidbits come in; another favourite thing of mine! *grin*Known as "Ngah-ku / ngah-gu" in Cantonese; these onion-like Chinese arrowroot bulbs are peeled, thinly sliced and deepfried to golden perfection to create a heavenly, crisp and tantalizing tea-time snack. I prefer them to potato chips ANyday! I sometimes wonder why it only appears during festive Chinese new year seasons...I wonder if it's a seasonal vegetable. Chinese arrowroot blubs are pretty difficult to find at local supermarkets...I don't think I've seen them being sold in Australia at all. They're shaped like chestnuts; only larger and of a completely different flavour. If you see these being sold in your local Chinatown; I strongly suggest you have a go at making these at home!
Here are a couple of pointers to making deliciously perfect ngah gu;
- Slice them REAL thin; The thinner it gets, the crispier they turn out. It needs to be almost translucent when you pick them up. Careful with the fingers!
- Use good quality peanut/corn oil. And never fry batches of ngah gu with "old" -used oil. A new batch always gives a clean fresh flavour.
- Heat oil on high heat and lower heat to medium right before dropping in ngah gu slices
- Drop ngah gu pieces in one at a time, but very quickly; fry on medium heat
- Reduce heat once more when removing ngah gu from oil
- Increase heat before repeating with next batch of ngah gu
Most of us toss fried ngah gu in a tiny bit of salt before storing it in an air tight container...but personally; I prefer ngah gu unsalted...its fresh, raw arrowroot flavour is perfect as it is.