Classic dim sum dish-Chinese turnip cake (Radish cake)
Chinese radish cake or turnip cake is a famous Chinese dessert available during the morning dim sum, Yun Cha. In Chinese, we name this type of cake as Gao in marinade or Gow in Cantonese dialect. There are also fried sponsored cake and taro cake. Those savory and yummy cake desserts are perfect side dish for a morning tea especially in fall or winter.
When winter finally comes, the feeling of New Year becomes stronger too. We will have a big family part for this year. So I am testing, trying and preparing my New Year dinner dishes and spring festivals dish now. In the following month, we will begin to embrace holidays.
Food with white color, like radish and lotus root, lotus seeds, and white lily are considered to be beneficial lung according to Wuxing Healthy Science. I did not test it but eating white food in fall and winter is a long Chinese history.
To make this radish cake at home, usually we need long radish (turnip), shitake mushroom, dried shrimp and Chinese sausage also known as Leop Cheung. However if you failed to find Chinese sausage, you can replace it with fresh ground pork. If you want to duplicate the taste at home, high quality Chinese sweet sausage is something worth searching.
Larger shreds of white radish can remain some radish test and texture in the final cake, while if they are finely shredded, it would be really hard for eater to connect radish with this yummy rice cake.
Turnip Cake-Radish Cake
- 300 g plain rice flour
- 1000 g Fresh long radish , aka daikon/turnip
- 800 ml water including the water squeezed from the white radish
- 3-4 middle size shiitake mushroom
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder , can be replaced by white pepper powder
- 1 tablespoon dried shrimp-pre soaked
- 100 g Chinese sausage
- ¼ middle size red onion
- 3 green onions
- ½ tablespoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- Vegetable cooking oil as needed
- 1 tablespoon cooking wine
- In a small bowl, soak the dried shrimp until softened. Set aside, drain well and cut both shrimp and shiitake mushroom into really small cubes.
- Peel all the skin of radish and then use a shredder to finely shred the radish. If you do not want to taste any radish texture in the final cake, shred the radish as small as possible.
- Transfer shredded radish in a large pot or bowl, spread salt on the surface and rub with hand. Set aside for around 20 minutes to 30 minutes until the radish shreds are totally softened.
- To prepare the side ingredients: in a small pan, add around ½ tablespoon oil and then fry onions, dried shrimp, sausage and shitake mushroom until aroma. Set aside.
- Squeeze the water out and transfer to another large mixing pot. Mix all the flour with the water squeezed out from the radish and the left water. Add radish shreds and Chinese five spice powder. Mix well and heat over medium fire to boil.
- Add other side ingredients and mix well.
- Brush some oil on your container and then transfer the mixture to the container. Steam for around 50 minutes; absorb any water on surface with a clean gauze or towel.
- Cut into slices around 1.5 cm in thickness after cooling down.
- Pan-fry until slightly brown on both sides. Sprinkle some chopped green onion and serve with your favorite tea.
Can these be frozen? What way is best?
Yes, it can be frozen. But freezing can cause some changes in the texture. It may bring small holes inside. Keep in air-tight bag.
Like some others, mine turned out too soft to slice and pan fry after taking out of the steamer. I steamed it, let it cool, then tried to slice, but it was just too soft and sticky. The flavour is good, but the texture is more like mashed potato than like radish cake. Not sure if there is a way to save it?
I will double check the recipe soon. Not cooked for years. By the way, if it becomes too soft, make small around balls and fry them (either shallow frying or deep frying).
How is the sausage cut?
Enjoyed making this and it turned out great, even if I forgot about it and left it in the steamer for half an hour too long - thanks! The only part I had trouble with was boiling the radish mix - it seemed like it was going to burn almost immediately, so I ended up skipping that and just going straight to the steamer. I noticed other recipes for radish cake suggest boiling the radish separately and then adding it to the rice flour mixture, so I might try that next time just for comparison.
Thank you for the recipe! My family's made radish cakes before, using additionally wheat starch and corn starch, but we were never able to make a cake that wasn't too soft and gooey. This is the first time I was able to flip the cake slices when pan-frying without breaking parts of them off. I might've gone a little overboard with reducing moisture from paranoia from previous recipes (my cake was a slightly more rubbery then your pictures), but it's still delicious and soft when pan-fried.
For the people having issues with sticky/overly soft cakes, some suggestions/tips:
1. Make sure most of the water is squeezed out of the radish, mushrooms, and shrimp. I squeezed my radish dry enough that the radish strands could clump together into a ball/chunk and hold its shape. When it finally came time to add the liquid back in, out of 800 ml, I only had to add about 100-200 ml after pouring in the radish soaking liquid and the mushroom & shrimp soaking liquid (I was using a Korean radish, which has less moisture however, so your measurements may vary)..
2. When you boil your starch mixture with your radish shreds, make sure to boil until it thickens up. You should have little to no loose liquid (that hasn't been thickened yet). If you've ever thickened a sauce with cornstarch, you should recognize the change.
3. Try to use a bamboo steamer to avoid moisture dripping and collecting on the surface of your cake while steaming.
4. Caveat: I might be over-reducing the liquid a little bit, so you should have some margin of error. When I took out the steamed radish cake the next day (after refrigeration), I was able to remove the cake from the steaming pan in one piece, and it was little bit on the rubbery side (though crispy and soft on the inside after pan-frying).
Thanks for such a lovely and detailed feedback!!!! They are so helpful.