Chinese turnip cake

Chinese turnip cake Radish Cake by Yummy Calories

My uncle made this amazing Chinese turnip cake one night for Chinese New Year many years ago. It had a lot of fillings and had a lot of umami flavour. At the time, I didn’t understand why he was so excited about the fillings as surely they were standard in all turnip cakes. Little did I know that ordering turnip cakes at a restaurant usually gave you the cheaper version where they skimp out on a lot of the ingredients. The restaurant ones were more likely to have a higher ratio of rice flour to turnip and with much fewer fillings.

Chinese turnip cakes are often served pan-fried (which admittedly tastes so much better) but for the purpose of the calorie count, I have assumed the steamed version. I don’t mind it steamed actually, especially if it’s fresh. But I do prefer the leftovers to be pan-fried.

Update: I’ve adapted this recipe for the Thermomix (TM5/TM6) below the conventional recipe.


Serves 6 as a side (approx. 301 calories per serve)

Prep time 1 hour
Cook time 1 hour

3 Chinese sausages (can also substitute or have a 50/50 mix with Chinese bacon)
15g dried shrimp, chopped
5 dried shiitake mushrooms, chopped (or use fresh)
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp Chinese rice wine
1 shallot, chopped finely
1 large Chinese turnip/radish (approx. 800g), shredded
Pinch of white pepper
190g rice flour
25g corn starch
200ml water
1 spring onion, chopped for garnish
1 small bunch of coriander, chopped for garnish
Fried shallots, for garnish

21 x 11 x 6 cm loaf pan. I use a Pyrex one like this, which was a hand-me down from a friend moving house.

I use a steam rack like this and place the loaf pan on top of it in a large pot with lid.

Soak the dried shrimps and shiitake mushrooms in water for at least 30 minutes. If you are able, try to use fresh shiitake. Meanwhile you can shred the turnip/radish or do what I did and just blitz in the food processor.

Chop the shrimps and the mushrooms into small pieces. I also de-stemmed my mushrooms as they’re usually quite hard still when using dried mushrooms.

In a large bowl, mix together the rice flour and corn flour and set aside.

In a heated pan, fry the Chinese sausage (without oil) until the fat starts to render. Chinese sausages are usually very fatty so you can skip the additional oil.

Add the shrimps and mushrooms and fry until fragrant. Then add the brown sugar, Chinese rice wine and soy sauce and stir until mixed through and set aside.

Using the same pan, fry the shallots until soft. In case the pan is too dry, you can add a little bit of oil.

Add the grated turnip/radish and stir fry for about 10-15 minutes until it is translucent, seasoning with salt and white pepper. Once cooked, set aside in a large bowl. Note that the turnip/radish can be quite bitter if not cooked through.

Add the water and gradually add the flours into the turnip/radish bowl and mix. It still should be quite a thick paste.

Stir through the fried shrimps, mushroom and sausage mixture into the bowl.

Grease a loaf pan (I used a 21 x 11 x 6cm loaf pan). Then transfer the mixture into the pan, press down and smooth the top. The mixture didn’t fill all the way to the top so you could probably get away with a smaller loaf pan.

Steam for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Because we are using a loaf pan, I usually steam it using a steam rack inside a large pot, fill with some water and place the lid on top. You can test if it’s ready with a cake tester/chop stick.

Once it has cooked, let it cool for about 30 minutes to set before flipping over and slicing up to serve. Garnish with spring onion, coriander and fried shallots. You may also serve it with sriracha sauce, hoisin sauce and/or oyster sauce but usually the sriracha sauce is enough for me.

Alternatively, if you don’t like the steamed version, you can refrigerate it for a few hours until it hardens a bit before cutting them into slices and pan-frying.


Thermomix Adaptation

Difficulty medium
Preparation time 25min
Total time 1h 30min
Serving size 10 slices

5 dried shiitake mushrooms, chopped (or use fresh)
190g rice flour
25g cornstarch
1 large Daikon radish (approx. 800g), cut into 4-5cm pieces
3 Chinese sausages, chopped into 1cm pieces
15g dried shrimp, chopped into 1cm pieces
1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp Chinese rice wine
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
White pepper, a dash
1000g water

1. Place dried mushrooms and shrimp into a separate bowl, cover with water and soak for 30 minutes or until soft. Skip this step if using fresh mushrooms. Make sure to reserve some of the mushroom water.
2. Place a bowl onto mixing bowl lid and weigh rice flour and corn flour and set aside.
3. Place radish into mixing bowl. Insert measuring cup into mixing bowl lid and grate 5 sec/speed 5. Transfer into a bowl and set aside. Rinse mixing bowl.
4. Add sausage, mushrooms and shrimp then cook 5 min/Varoma/speed 1, without measuring cup.
5. Add drained radish, soy sauce, Chinese rice wine, sugar, salt, pepper and 200g of reserved mushroom water (or water) then cook 15 min/Varoma/speed 0.5, placing simmering basket instead of measuring cup onto mixing bowl lid.
6. Add reserved flour mixture and mix 1 min/speed 2.
7. Grease a loaf tin (I used 21 x 11 x 6cm) 20 x 10 x 5 cm). Transfer mixture into prepared tin and smooth the top. Clean and dry mixing bowl.
8. Place remaining 800 g water into mixing bowl and place Varoma into position. Place loaf tin into Varoma, secure Varoma lid and cook 40 min/Varoma/speed 1.
9. Set Varoma aside and allow loaf to cool. You can eat this warm or refrigerate overnight, slice and pan fry as desired.


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