Chinese Turnip Cake (Lo Bak Go, 萝卜糕)

Learn how to make one of the most famous dim sum dishes – Chinese turnip cakes – which taste way better than the restaurant version. This is a must-have for Chinese New Year and a great appetizer for any Chinese dinner party. {gluten-free}

Chinese Turnip Cake (lo bak go, 萝卜糕) - Learn how to make one of the most famous dim sum dishes - turnip cakes - which taste way better than the restaurant version.

Chinese turnip cake is one of the most important dishes for celebrating New Year, and is also a popular dim sum dish. It is a savory rice cake loaded with cured meat, steamed, and then pan fried to create a tender texture with a crispy crust.

The first time I tried turnip cake at a dim sum restaurant, I wasn’t very impressed. You see, restaurants tend to skimp on ingredients. That rice cake contained barely any meat. It just tasted like a silky-textured salty bread, which was kind of boring. I fell in love this dim sum dish once I tried the homemade version. Oh my, it was the opposite of the restaurant version and tasted SO GOOD!

Today I can’t wait to share this dim sum recipe with you. Not only is it straightforward to make. It is a perfect dinner party dish because it works best when prepared in advance.

Chinese Turnip Cake (lo bak go, 萝卜糕) - Learn how to make one of the most famous dim sum dishes - turnip cakes - which taste way better than the restaurant version.

Cooking notes

What type of radish to use?

First, I need to clarify the main ingredient in this recipe. Although the recipe is called turnip cake, it actually uses Chinese white radish (or daikon radish in Japan). Do not use turnip in this recipe, or else the finished dish could be off.

Dried goods

These are the most important parts of the recipe and you probably need to go to an Asian market to get them.

  • Chinese sausage (腊肠, Lap cheong) is a type of dried sausage that’s slightly sweet. I’ve occasionally seen these at Costco and you can order them from Amazon.
  • Chinese dry cured ham (腊肉, lap yuk) is cured pork belly, quite like prosciutto but at a cheaper price. You can find it at the online Asian store Poshap.
  • Dried shrimp (海米, Hai Mi) are small sun dried shrimp that have an intense sea-like flavor. You can read more about them in a previous post. I’ve seen these in grocery stores in the Mexican cuisine section, and you can also order them on Amazon.
  • Dried shiitake mushrooms, which add tons of umami. They are my favorite flavor enhancer. You might be able to find them in bulk at a grocery store, and certainly at The Mala Market and on Amazon.

Although it’s possible to make this dish skipping one or two of these dry goods, I highly recommend you use all of them to create the best turnip cake.

Chinese Turnip Cake Cooking Process

Water ratio

Depending on the liquid contents of your daikon radish and how long you cook it, you might use more or less water than the recipe calls for. When you’re mixing the batter, observe carefully to find the best water ratio. The mixture should be consistent without any dry flour left, but also quite dry, so that you’ll need to use a spoon to press it into the pan for cooking.

Chinese Turnip Cake Cooking Process

Chinese Turnip Cake Cooking Process

Set up your steamer

My favorite way is to use a wok on the bottom, filled with water, and a big two-layer bamboo steamer on top, to hold the cake pan. This way I can cook all the turnip cakes at once.

If you do not have a bamboo steamer, you can use a steaming rack, crumpled aluminum foil or metal cookie cutters in a deep skillet to hold the cake pan. In this case, you might not be able to add a lot of water (to prevent the boiling water from spilling into the cake pan). So keep an eye on the water level during steaming and add more water, if needed.

Serve

Although you can eat the turnip cakes right after cooking, I highly recommend you be patient and let them set overnight. Then you can use a bit of oil to pan fry them to create that irresistible crispy surface. This recipe yields a very flavorful result that does not require any dipping sauce. However you could serve the cakes with sriracha or oyster sauce to give them a final boost.

Chinese Turnip Cake (lo bak go, 萝卜糕) - Learn how to make one of the most famous dim sum dishes - turnip cakes - which taste way better than the restaurant version.

I also highly recommend you make a full batch, because it takes about the same amount of time to cook as a half batch. Freeze some of the steamed rice cakes so you will have some awesome dim sum to snack on later!

Recipes for celebrating Chinese New Year

Chinese Turnip Cake (lo bak go, 萝卜糕) - Learn how to make one of the most famous dim sum dishes - turnip cakes - which taste way better than the restaurant version.

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

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Chinese Turnip Cake (lo bak go, 萝卜糕) - Learn how to make one of the most famous dim sum dishes - turnip cakes - which taste way better than the restaurant version.

Chinese Turnip Cake (Lo Bak Go, 萝卜糕)


  • Author: Maggie Zhu
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 10mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 mins
  • Yield: 8 servings
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Description

Learn how to make one of the most famous dim sum dishes – Chinese turnip cakes – which taste way better than the restaurant version. This is a must-have for Chinese New Year and a great appetizer for any Chinese dinner party.


Ingredients

  • 6 shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup dried shrimp
  • 1 big daikon radish (1 lb/450 g)
  • 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 5 ounces Chinese bacon (lap yuk), diced
  • 2 Chinese sausages, diced
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper powder
  • 2 2/3 cup rice flour (1 lb/450 g)
  • (Optional) Chopped cilantro, toasted sesame seeds, oyster sauce and/or sriracha for serving

Instructions

  1. Rinse shiitake mushrooms and dried shrimp separately with tap water and gently rub to remove any dirt. Place each ingredient into two different bowls. Add hot water to cover. Soak for 1 hour, up to overnight. Drain and dice into small pieces.
  2. Grate daikon radish coarsely.
  3. Add 1/2 tablespoon oil, Chinese bacon, and Chinese sausage into a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Add the shiitake mushrooms and dried shrimp. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Add the green onions. Stir a few times to release the fragrance. Transfer everything to a plate.
  4. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and the daikon radish. Cook over medium low heat until transparent but not browned, 8 minutes or so.
  5. Add the rice flour and the cooked daikon radish (along with any cooking liquid) into a big bowl. Add the sugar, salt, and white pepper. Stir to mix well. Add the cooked cured meat mixture.
  6. Prepare 3/4 cup water, add a few tablespoons at a time and stir to mix well, until the mixture reaches a thick paste and there is no dry rice flour left. You might use more or less water.
  7. Grease two 8” x 8” (20cm x 20cm) baking pans (or other-sized pans, as long as they fit into your steamer) with oil. Transfer the mixture into the pan, about 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick.
  8. Add 2 inches of water to your steamer and bring it to a boil over medium high heat. Add the steaming rack with the pan inside it. Cook, covered, for about 40 to 50 minutes, until the turnip loaf is cooked through but not too tough.
  9. Remove the pan from the steamer and set it aside to cool. Once the pan has cooled enough to handle, remove the turnip cake from the pan using a spatula.
  10. To serve, cut the turnip cakes into 1/2-inch thick pieces and cook them in a heated skillet coated with a thin layer of oil.
  11. To store, transfer the steamed turnip cakes in an airtight container, store in the fridge for 2 to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month. To reheat, thaw the frozen turnip cakes first, and pan fry them before serving.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 8
  • Calories: 309
  • Sugar: 3.8g
  • Sodium: 546mg
  • Fat: 4.7g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.3g
  • Carbohydrates: 57g
  • Fiber: 4.1g
  • Protein: 10g
  • Cholesterol: 23mg
Chinese Turnip Cake (lo bak go, 萝卜糕) - Learn how to make one of the most famous dim sum dishes - turnip cakes - which taste way better than the restaurant version.

Disclosure

Omnivore's Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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