Chinese turnip/radish cake (301 calories per serve)

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.

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.

Serves 4-6 (calorie count based on a serving of 6)

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, diced
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
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

Soak the dried shrimps and shiitake mushrooms in hot water for at least 30 minutes. 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 flours gradually into the turnip/radish bowl and mix through. Add a little bit of water if it becomes a real struggle to stir but it 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. 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.

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