I bet when you guys think of caaaaaaaaake, the first thing that comes to mind is a mouth watering savoury turnip cake! That crispy pan fried skin with a gooey center that is flavoured with white turnip, Chinese sausage and dried shrimp. Combine with a salty chilli or soy sauce and you will have a disco party in your mouth that is worth chewing!
I openly admit to being a massive fanboy of yum cha / dim sum. I like the fact that there is so much variety which keeps the meal interesting and fun. I personally have three favourite dishes that I call my holy yum cha trinity. It includes lo bak gao (turnip cake), har gao (prawn dumpling) and tripe in black bean sauce. Admittedly, I am the only one in the family who really enjoys tripe. The others love their chicken feet and Steph loves to claim she is no fan of yum cha at all. Yep, she makes an conscious effort of pointing it out, even though on every occasion, she can be seen stuffing her face in yum cha delicacies!
The inspiration for this post came from a visit to a mates restaurant a few months back. We had yum cha at Ginseng in Woden, and the food was very good. On this occasion, I particularly remember the turnip cake and stuffed eggplant being exceptional. Every time I really like a dish, my brain goes into “how did they do it?” mode. I start by attempting to name the ingredients and likely methods of cooking. I personally think it is a lot of fun, but I have learnt that it makes for crap conversation. So now, I do it all in my noticeably larger than average sized head.
The turnip cake recipe I am sharing with you guys today is one that my mother has developed. Honestly, I have never made this myself because the traditional method appeared to be time consuming. That was until my mum taught me the lazy method. Simply replace the steamer with a microwave!!! Oh boy… can you see all the traditionalists and purists out there shaking their heads in disappointment. I certainly can. But in my defence, it makes sense to use the more efficient method, if you believe there is little to no sacrifice in taste or texture. Do you agree?
As you can see from the picture above, my version is not as lumpy as many of the other homemade recipes you will find on the internet. This is because I use a higher ratio of rice flour to turnip, which gives the cake a smoother consistency. This makes it a lot easier to pan fry and gives an aesthetically pleasing finish.
If you are in search for some Brownies points with the family or just want something that tastes good then you have to give this dish a go. They won’t know what hit em! Good luck!
Before I sign off, I just want to thank mum, dad, Vanessa and Luke for my new DSLR camera this Christmas! Loving the camera and the photos. So, a BIG THANKS to the fam!
Savoury Turnip Cake - Banh bot - Lo bak Gao
Course: Starter / snack
- 250 gm of rice flour
- 1/4 cup of tapioca flour
- 1/4 cup of chestnut flour (Available at at Asian groceries)
- 3 cups of cold water
- 20 gm of dried shrimp, finely chopped
- 1 cup of boiling water
- 175 gm of white turnip, finely shredded (I use a small hand grater)
- 2 Chinese sausage, finely chopped
- 1/2 tbsp of minced preserved radish (Optional ingredient and available from your Asian groceries)
- 3 trimmed spring onions, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp of sugar
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1 tbsp of canola oil
- Vegetable oil for frying and lining
- Soy sauce
- Sriracha chilli sauce
- Spring onions, chopped
- In a large pot, add the rice, tapioca and chestnut flour with 3 cups of cold water. Stir well, then let it rest for 2 hours.
- In a small bowl, add the dried shrimp and plenty of boiling water to completely submerse the shrimp. Set aside.
- After 1.5 hours, strain the shrimp and prep all ingredients. Remember to keep the chopped Chinese sausage in a separate bowl. (Note 1)
- After 2 hours, there should be a layer of clear suspended water on top of the rice flour. Slowly tip the pot and pour that suspended water into a cup.
- Measure the same amount of boiling water to discarded suspended water and add it back into the pot.
- Cook the Chinese sausage for 20 secs in the microwave to release the oils.
- Add the white turnip, Chinese sausage, shrimp, preserved radish, spring onions, sugar, salt and oil to the pot.
- Cook on medium – high and continually stir the mixture.
- Once the mixture has clumped together, add a cup of boiling water. Turn down the heat to low and continue to stir. (Note 2)
- After 2 min, take off the heat and let it sit on a heat mat.
- Brush 2 normal sized dinner plates with oil.
- Wear food prep gloves and pour some oil in your hands.
- Place half of the mixture on to a plate and flatten it out to roughly 2 – 2.5 cm thickness. (Note 3)
- Work the mixture until you have a smooth surface and then cover with cling wrap. Be sure to make it air tight.
- Cook the turnip cakes for 8.5 mins in the microwave on high.
- Leave it covered to cool and set for roughly 1 to 2 hours. (Note 4)
- Cut the turnip cake into rectangular slices with a knife dipped in water.
- Heat up a fry pan on medium – high till it reaches temperature.
- Add a generous amount of vegetable oil into the pan and fry the turnip cake till each side is golden.
- Garnish with chopped spring onion.
- Serve with chilli and soy sauce.
- It is very important to shred the white turnip finely, so that the cake is easy to cut and has a smooth consistency. I personally use the same grater to grate the white turnip as I would with Parmesan cheese.
- The mixture should be very thick and hard to stir. Use the 3rd picture from the top as a reference.
- Try to shape the mixture like a round pancake on the plate. Smooth out the surface and edges with your hands that are covered in a little amount of oil. Use the 4th picture from the top as reference.
- Do not try and fry the turnip cake without letting it cool first. The cake will be too soft to cut and will be very difficult to handle. If you need the cake to cool faster, than place them in the refrigerator on top of a tea towel.