This recipe is from a restaurant in Gongcheng, Guangxi Province, China and is featured in the book, 'Snow Flower and the Secret Fan', as part of Lily and Snow Flower’s memorable meal at the Temple of Gupo.
Soak taro cubes in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes (necessary to get the starch out). Drain the taro and pat dry.
Heat 2 inches of the oil in a wok over high heat until it is very hot. Add about 10 taro cubes to the oil and fry for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove the cubes with a strainer and place on paper towels to drain. Fry the remaining taro cubes in this way.
Discard the oil from the wok and put in the sugar, sesame oil, and shortening. Stir the sugar continuously for about 2 minutes or until the sugar caramelizes and turns a light brown then remove the wok from the heat. Use chopsticks to dip each fried taro cube in the caramelized sugar.
Place the coated taro cubes on a plate and serve with a small bowl of ice water. Before eating, instruct your guests to use their chopsticks to dunk the taro in the ice water so that the sugar hardens and cools before eating.