This dish is based on a Malay specialty called abacus seeds, which is made with a purple yam-and-sticky rice flour dough and resembles gnocchi. Zak Pelaccio bases his version of the dough on roasted taro and sauces his gnocchi with a hearty East-West ragù that contains shredded pork, tomatoes and Asian seasonings like chiles, shallots and mint.
More Great Gnocchi Recipes
1 pound small taro roots (about 5), scrubbed
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 extra-large egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Shredded Pork Sauce
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound roasted pork, pulled into large shreds
1 shallot, minced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 green Thai chiles, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup chicken stock or broth
1 long red chile, seeded and cut into long thin strips
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped mint
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped basil
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 350°. Wrap the taro roots individually in foil and bake for 1 hour, or until the taro roots are tender when pierced. Unwrap the taro roots and let cool.
Slice one end off of each taro root and use a small spoon to scoop out the flesh. Press the taro through a ricer into a medium bowl. Add the 2 cups of flour and the egg, butter, oil and salt. Using your hands, knead the mixture together to form a dough. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead until smooth.
Cut the taro dough into 3 pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each piece of dough into a 1-inch-thick rope. Using a sharp knife, cut the ropes into 1/2-inch pieces, dipping the knife in flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Transfer the taro gnocchi to a floured baking sheet and freeze until firm, about 3 hours.
In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter in the oil. Add the roasted pork, shallot and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the shallot and garlic are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the sliced Thai chiles and the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken stock, red chile strips, scallions, mint and basil and cook, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Remove from the heat, cover and keep warm.
In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the taro gnocchi until they rise to the surface, then simmer them until tender, about 5 minutes longer. Drain the gnocchi in a colander.
Add the gnocchi to the sauce in the skillet. Cook over moderate heat, tossing gently, just until the gnocchi are thoroughly coated and the sauce is heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve in deep bowls.
The taro gnocchi can be frozen for 2 weeks. The pork sauce can be refrigerated overnight.
These unusual taro gnocchi are topped with what is essentially the Malaysian equivalent of an Italian ragùso why not pour a Chianti with the dish? Sangiovese, the principal grape variety in this Tuscan red wine, has an earthy depth and bright acidity that work well with tomato-based sauces.
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