Turnip cake is a traditional dim sum dish; in Cantonese it’s called Lo Bak Gou. Lo Bak is the Cantonese word for mooli, or daikon as it’s more commonly known in this country, which is a radish that looks like an enormous white carrot.
The cooking involves several processes and is something you need to set aside time for… But once made you can store it in the fridge for a week or so and dip into it whenever you fancy a snack.
Steamer – the easiest way to do this is to use a round bamboo steamer and set it on top of a wok. Then fill the wok with water but make sure the water sits below the bamboo steamer.
Cake tin – this will be used to steam the turnip cake so will need to fit inside the bamboo steamer.
90g Chinese sausage, diced
60g shiitake mushrooms (soaked)
15g dried shrimp
150g corn flour
75g rice flour
All ingredients can be found in any Chinese or East Asian supermarket.
If you have bought dried shiitake mushrooms they will need to be soaked in advance. If possible soak the night before using cold water. Or if necessary use boiling water and soak for at least 30 mins.
Grate the mooli and put into a pot. Add sugar, salt and water and bring to the boil, before turning down the heat to simmer for around 15mins until all the mooli has softened. Drain the mooli but don’t throw away the cooking water (as it will be added again later), let the water cool.
Meanwhile dice the Chinese sausage, shiitake mushrooms and dried shrimp. Fry these together in a little oil until fragrant. Then set aside.
Add the corn flour and rice flour to the cooled cooking liquid and mix in well. Put the drained mooli back into the pot and pour in the liquid making sure to scrape all the flour back into the pot. Add the fried sausage/mushroom/shrimp mixture to the pot and put onto a low heat. Stir all the ingredients continuously in the pot until it becomes gloopy and all the liquid has disappeared. Then take off the heat.
Have the cake tin ready brushed with oil, then pour all the contents into the cake tin and smooth over so it is level. Try not to allow the mixture to sit in the hot pot for too long as it may dry out.
Then steam the ‘cake’ for around half an hour. To check it’s done, pierce it with a chopstick and when you slide it out there should be nothing stuck to the chopstick.
Cool the turnip cake before putting into the fridge. Don’t try to take it out of the tin until refrigerated as it will probably stick to the sides. Once refrigerated it can then be taken out and sliced. It can be eaten steamed or pan fried – we always go with fried and it goes really well with some chilli oil!
To fry it, simply heat some plain-flavoured oil (eg vegetable, sunflower, rapeseed or peanut oil) on a medium heat and fry the slices of turnip cake on both sides until golden. Ideally it should be crispy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside! That’s how we like to do it anyway.