First, the batter. The Taiwanese version uses all-purpose flour with rice flour or corn starch, whereas the Fuzhou Hao Bing batter uses ground rice with soya bean (couldn't find much info about the exact recipe). And the fillings (besides oysters), the Taiwanese oyster cake uses mainly chinese chives, cabbage and spring onion, whereas the Fuzhou Hao Bing includes minced pork, chinese celery and some peanuts as topping.
I love to eat Fuzhou Hao Bing, there's a stall at Maxwell Market which sells quite decent ones and I would usually grab one piece when I go there. So for Asian Food Fest Taiwan, I thought of attempting the Taiwanese version just to taste the difference.
It took me eight tries before I could produce a decent oyster cake, almost wanted to give up! The technique seemed easy enough, coat a medium size ladle with some oil, add 2-3 tbsp of batter, add 1 tbsp of vegetables, add 2-3 oysters, cover with 2-3 tbsp of batter, dip the the ladle into very hot oil, once the oyster cake turns slightly brown, dislodge it into the oil and deep fry till golden brown. The thing was, I couldn't manage to dislodge the oyster cake from the ladle. The batter was totally stuck, total mess when I tried to pry the cake open!
Initially I used half recipe from Taiwan Duck, after five tries (used up all the batter), I thought perhaps the batter was too watery/thin. So I switched to the recipe on Xinshipu which has a thicker batter which was easily to manage. After two more tries, I finally managed to dislodge the oyster cake into the oil on the eighth try. Realised that if I coat the ladle with more oil, in fact not just coat but leave about half teaspoon of oil in the ladle before adding the batter and ingredients, the whole oyster cake could be dislodged into the oil much easily. In addition, had to reduce the amount of fillings so that it's much easier to handle.
But the problem with the oyster cake with the thicker batter, the texture was too hard and turned rubbery after a while. Yucks, no good. So I went back to the Taiwan Duck recipe, and with the newly mastered technique, yes, managed to produce six decent pieces of oyster cakes!
It's really quite different from the Fuzhou Haobing which is much more flavourful, crispy and heavy. I could eat a few pieces of this Taiwanese oyster cake at one go but one piece of the Fuzhou Haobing is already quite overwhelming on the palate.
That said, the deep frying work was tedious, and the aftermath of it all, an oily and smelly kitchen :(
Gah, there were a lot of oil splatters especially when I added too much filling or didn't cover the filling properly with the batter. Perhaps once is enough.
Like I mentioned, the key to successful oyster cake (at least to me), was having sufficient oil on the ladle to begin with. See the picture below, there must be enough oil on the ladle such that the oil surrounded the batter beneath and around. In this way, the whole cake could be dislodged easily into the hot oil after frying till slight brown.
Taiwanese Street Snack Deep Fried Oyster Cake 台灣小吃炸蚵嗲
(recipe from Taiwan Duck, yields about 6 oyster cakes with 3.5" ladle)
- 12-18 pieces oyster (I use frozen, 2-3 oysters per cake)
- 30g chinese chives
- 60g cabbage
- 25g spring onion
- 1/2 cup plain flour
- 1/2 cup rice flour
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- Dipping sauce: 2 tbsp ketchup, 1 tsp oyster sauce, 1 tsp garlic chilli, 1 tsp thai sweet chilli, 1/2 tsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp sugar
- Rinse the oysters and thaw them in water added with 1 tsp salt. Set aside.
- Finely chop the chives, cabbage and spring onion, toss with 1 tsp salt. Set aside.
- Mix plain flour, rice flour, water and oil and stir till well-blended.
- Heat up cooking oil (sufficient to cover a ladle full of batter) in a deep pot till very hot (more than 160 degree celsius).
- Dip the ladle into the oil and remove, leaving about 1 tsp of oil in the ladle.
- Add 2 tbsp of batter into the ladle, spreading a bit, then add 2 tsp of the vegetables, spreading and pressing down. Next add 2-3 oysters. Finally cover the top with 2-3 tbsp of batter, make sure that the batter covers all the ingredients.
- Dip the entire ladle into the hot oil, make sure the batter is fully submerged. Swirl the ladle around.
- Once the oyster cake turns slightly brown, dislodge the cake into the oil with the help of a thin knife (I use butter knife).
- Deep fry till golden brown. Drain on kitchen towel.
- Best eaten hot, on its own or with dipping sauce.