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Turnip Cake: A Dim Sum Favorite

Turnip Cake, a quintessential dish in dim sum cuisine, is a savory delight that often graces the tables of Chinese brunches. Known as “Lo Bak Go” in Cantonese, this delicacy is made from grated Chinese white radish, which is often mistakenly referred to as turnip, mixed with rice flour and a medley of aromatic ingredients. The result is a tender, yet firm cake that is pan-fried to golden perfection, offering a contrast of textures and a depth of flavor. Turnip Cake is a celebration of humble ingredients elevated through technique and tradition, a dish that has won the hearts of dim sum aficionados worldwide.

Turnip Cake: A Dim Sum Favorite

Ingredients for Turnip Cake

  • 2 cups of grated Chinese white radish (daikon)
  • 1 cup of rice flour
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of diced Chinese sausage (lap cheong)
  • 1/2 cup of diced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup of dried shrimp, soaked and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped scallions
  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Cooking Steps for Turnip Cake

  • Saut√© the diced Chinese sausage in a pan until slightly browned. Add the shiitake mushrooms and dried shrimp and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • In a large bowl, mix the grated radish with water, oyster sauce, sugar, salt, and white pepper.
  • Add the rice flour to the radish mixture gradually, stirring to avoid lumps. Fold in the cooked sausage, mushrooms, shrimp, and scallions until well combined.
  • Pour the mixture into a greased square or rectangular cake pan.
  • Steam the cake over medium-high heat for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the mixture is set and firm to the touch.
  • Allow the cake to cool completely before removing it from the pan and cutting it into slices.
  • Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat. Pan-fry the slices of turnip cake on both sides until they are crispy and golden brown.
  • Serve hot, with a side of soy sauce or chili sauce for dipping, if desired.

In summary, Turnip Cake is a beloved staple in dim sum that showcases the versatility and comfort of Chinese cuisine. The key to a perfect Turnip Cake lies in the selection of fresh ingredients. The Chinese white radish should be firm and heavy for its size, indicating juiciness and freshness. High-quality Chinese sausage and shiitake mushrooms will impart a rich umami flavor that is crucial to the dish. When preparing Turnip Cake, patience is vital; the radish mixture must be steamed until just set, and the cake should be adequately cooled to hold its shape during frying. This dish not only provides a satisfying texture and flavor experience but also represents the culinary creativity that can turn simple ingredients into an extraordinary treat. Whether enjoyed as part of a larger dim sum spread or as a stand-alone snack, Turnip Cake is a testament to the enduring charm of traditional Chinese cooking.

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