This turnip cake / banh bot chien is an absolute hit in my household. It has a crispy pan fried skin with a gooey center that is flavoured with Chinese sausage, spring onions and dried shrimp. This recipe is my mum’s cheat version, which is much simpler and quicker then traditional methods. All you will need is a microwave and a big appetite!
There are people in this world who love yum cha (dim sum) and there are those who don’t. I openly admit to being one of the worlds biggest fanboy. I enjoy the whole experience of sharing plates and having a lot of variety to choose from. It makes the meal interactive, interesting and fun. My personal favourite dishes are 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 is one of those who loves to claim she is no fan of yum cha at all. Yep, she makes an conscious effort of pointing this out, even though on every occasion, she can be seen stuffing her face!
The turnip cake recipe I am sharing with you guys today is one that my mother has developed. Honestly, in the past I always avoided making this because the traditional method appeared to be hard and time consuming. That was until my mum taught me the lazy method. Now I make it all the time. By simply replacing the steamer with a microwave, making turnip cake / banh bot chien at home is now a stress free experience! I highly recommend you try this recipe if you don’t any special equipment or time for the traditional methods.
My Tips for a Successful Turnip Cake
- It is very important to shred the white turnip finely. This will make the turnip cake easier to cut and give it a smooth consistency. I usually use a micro plane or a hand grater.
- When molding the turnip cake into a pancake, use an ample amount of oil on your hands to create a smooth cake top. This is particularly important if you want a nice golden and crispy skin on the cake after pan frying.
- To avoid the edges of the turnip cake going too hard after cooking, try to make the cake uniformly 1 cm – 1.5 cm thick from the middle to the edge. This is not easy and will take a little bit of practice.
- It is important to seal the turnip cake with cling wrap before cooking it in the microwave. I usually wrap it twice to stop the steam from escaping and drying out the cake.
- Let the turnip cake cool first after cooking it in the microwave before frying. 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.
- When frying, make sure there is enough oil in the pan so that the turnip cake does not stick. I always shake the pan at the beginning and watch if there are any pieces that don’t slide with the pan. Use an egg flipper to release any pieces that are stuck and put a little oil underneath them.
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Turnip Cake - Banh Bot Chien
- 20 gm dried shrimp, washed and finely chopped
- 200 gm white turnip, finely grated
- 2 Chinese sausage, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp minced preserved radish / cu cai muoi (Optional but highly recommended and available from your Asian groceries)
- 3 spring onions, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cup boiling water
- 250 gm rice flour, sifted
- 60 gm tapioca flour, sifted
- 3 cups cold water
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp sugar
Dipping Sauces (Optional)
- Soy sauce
- Sriracha chilli sauce
In a large pot, add 3 cups of cold water and sift in the flour. Add the rest of the dough ingredients and gently whisk until all is combined, Leave aside.
In a small saucer, add the dried shrimp and enough boiling water to completely submerse the shrimp. Boil for 10 minutes on medium and then strain. Roughly chop.
Prep the radish, Chinese sausage and spring onions.
In a small fry pan on medium, add 1 tbsp of oil and the chopped Chinese sausage. Continually stir and cook until the oils and smell from the Chinese sausage is released. Take the pot off the heat and scrape all the Chinese sausage and oil it into the large pot with the dough mixture.
Heat the large pot with the dough mixture to medium high. Add the chopped shrimp, preserved radish, spring onion and 1 cup of boiling water.
With a big wooden spoon, continuously stir until the mixture becomes very thick (usually about 4 minutes). Take it off the heat and continue to stir for another minute. Set aside to cool.
Grease 3 plates (approx 26 cm / 10.25 In) with oil. With a wooden spoon, divide the mixture into three portions and place them on the plates.
Touch the dough mixture to see if it is cool enough to handle. Once you are comfortable, put on some food handling gloves and cover your hands with some oil. Flatten out the dough on each plate like a pancake to roughly 1 cm - 1.5 cm.
Cover the plates with cling wrap and cook in the microwave for 8.5 minutes on high. Make sure to seal it properly so the dough does not dry out.
Leave the cling wrap on and let the turnip cake cool for at least 20 minutes. Alternatively, place them in the fridge until needed.
Cut the turnip cake into smaller pieces
In a fry pan on medium high, add 2 tbsp of oil and fry them until golden on the outside. About 2 – 3 minutes on each side.
Serve with soy sauce and Sriracha.