Chinese New Year: Turnip Cake

Turnip Cake is the one thing that can’t be missed during Chinese New Year! I love that so much that my mom used to make them specific for me while I was in Hong Kong for vacation, even though that was during Christmas! But it doesn’t matter, who doesn’t want turnip cake? Turnip cake is actually made with daikon or Chinese white turnip. Every family has their own recipes. Some use dried mushroom, some use dried ham, and some use salted radish. Everyone makes them differently. This turnip cake recipe is my mom’s recipe. I have been eating this dish for years. If I am in Hong Kong, there is no reason for me to learn how to make turnip cake. Since I am far away from home, I have asked my mom for the recipe. Finally, I made it! And, I am so glad that this is good! My sister said that my turnip cake tastes 90% like mom’s. Bryan asked whether I can make it during other time of the year.

Turnip Cake

8 – 10 servings

Preparation and cooking Time: 4 – 6 hours

Required tools:

–   1 (9.5 inches diameter) pot with lid or wok with lid

–   4 (8 inches x 3 7/8 inches x 2 15/32 inches) aluminum loaf pans (or use any pans that would fit in the pot or wok)

–   1 steaming rack (Make sure the rack can fit in the pot or wok)

–   1 medium pot

–   1 large pan or wok

–   1 kettle

Ingredients:

–   6.5 lbs Chinese white turnip or daikon

–   1 lb plain rice flour (not glutinous rice flour)

–   7 big dried shiitake mushroom

–   1/3 cup Chinese dried shrimp

–   2 – 4 Chinese sausages (Use 4 if the sausages are short)

–   1 cup water

–   1 ½ tablespoon oil

–   4 – 5 teaspoons salt

–   1 ½ teaspoon sugar

–   white pepper

Directions:

  1. For the dried mushrooms, rinse them under cold water to clean, and soak them in cold water for at least 5 – 6 hours until the mushrooms are soft. If you want, you can soak them overnight. Pat them dry with paper towels. Remove and discard stems. Finely diced the mushrooms and set aside.
  2. In a medium pot, add half a pot of water and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, blanch the Chinese sausages in it for 2 minutes for easy chopping. Pat them dry with paper towels. Finely diced the sausages and set aside.
  3. For the dried shrimps, rinse and soak them in cold water for 15 minutes. Pat them dry with paper towels. Finely chopped and set aside.
  4. With the daikon, peel and grate them into thick strips. Save the daikon juice while grating. Set aside the daikon strips and daikon juice.
  5. In a large pan or wok over medium heat, heat up 1 tablespoon oil, and add the mushrooms, sausages, and shrimps. Stir until the ingredients are aromatic and golden brown. Take out and set aside.
  6. In the same pan over medium heat, add ½ tablespoon oil. Put in the grated daikon strips. Stir and cook them for 5 – 8 minutes. Add the daikon juice and the water, and bring to a boil. Cook for another 2 – 3 minutes. Let it cool for 15 minutes or until warm.
  7. Meanwhile, in the 9.5 inches pot or wok (with lid), put in the steaming rack and add water that reach 1 inch below the top of the rack. Bring the water to boil in high heat.
  8. Fill water in the kettle. Bring the water to boil. Keep warm and set aside.
  9. With the daikon mixture, stir in the rice flour slowly. Add the salt, sugar, and a pinch of white pepper. Mix well, taste and try. Stir in the sausages, dried shrimps, and dried mushrooms. Mix everything well together.
  10. Transfer the mixture to the aluminum pans. Fill up to the top. Put 1 aluminum pan with daikon mixture on the steaming rack in the pot or wok. Cover and steam for 60 – 70 minutes over medium-low heat. Check every 30 minutes and add boiling water to the pot if needed. Make sure not to let water get in the daikon mixture when adding water.
  11. To check whether the turnip cake is cooked or not, insert a chopstick into the cake. If there is no white powder stuck on the chopstick and it is clear, the cake is ready. The cake may look wet and mushy. Don’t worry. It will dry up when it cool. If you want to eat the turnip cake soft, serve immediately with soy sauce or chili oil as dipping sauce.
  12. Continue to steam the other daikon mixture. When the turnip cake is cooked, take out and let it cool. Once the turnip cake is cool, cover the pan with plastic wrap. Keep in the fridge for 1 – 2 weeks.
  13. To pan-fried turnip cake, slice the cake into ½ inch slices. In a large pan over medium-low heat, with a little bit oil, fried the turnip cake slices for 3 – 4 minutes each side until brown and crispy. Serve immediately with chili oil as dipping sauce.

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One thought on “Chinese New Year: Turnip Cake

  1. Pingback: Chinese New Year Recipes | The Missing Lokness

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