Chinese New Year is right around the corner and it’s time to bid adieu to the Year of the Monkey and welcome in a whole new Year of the Rooster! As the biggest Chinese holiday of the year, Chinese New Year represents the time for families to gather together for celebration, wash away ill-luck and to usher in incoming good luck. When it comes to celebrating a new year, people tend to eat traditional foods that are considered lucky and symbolize success for the year to come. Fruits like tangerines and oranges are said to bring in wealth and luck. Fried spring rolls, also known as egg rolls, are an especially popular item during the New Year because of their resemblance to gold bars. Chinese lettuce wraps represent prosperity because the Chinese word for “lettuce” sounds similar to “rising fortune”. This year, we’re adding to our list of lucky recipes with this Chinese Turnip Cake, also known as Lo Bak Go. Turnip cake is a delicious savory cake made from daikon, steamed and then pan-fried until golden and crispy on the outside. Although commonly found in dim sum restaurants, turnip cake is special during Chinese New Year because it symbolizes prosperity. Throw on a few slices of this simple yet scrumptious dish into a hot pan for breakfast and store the rest to eat all throughout the holiday.
Daikon, also called Chinese radishes, are an essential ingredient to making turnip cakes and other Asian dishes. As one of the largest radishes, daikon is characterized by its long, narrow appearance and crisp texture. Although it may look similar to a carrot in appearance, its flavor is anything but. It’s been described as mildly sweet and juicy with a slightly spicy, peppery bite. This is one versatile Asian vegetable and its fresh flavor can be enjoyed raw in a Korean Pear and Daikon Salad or in Chicken Daikon Tacos and even as part of sandwiches such as in the Vietnamese banh mi. Besides being steamed into turnip cakes, they can also be thrown into classic braise with meat, since they absorb their braising liquid beautifully and take on the texture of turnips once cooked.
Chinese Turnip Cake
Yields: 4 servings
- 1 daikon, grated
- 1 package of Melissa’s Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, soaked and chopped
- 2 stalks of organic green onion, chopped
- 1 Chinese sausage, diced
- 1 cup of rice flour
- 1 cup of water
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons of dried shrimp, soaked and chopped
- 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper
1. In a large pan, simmer together the daikon and water for around 10 minutes, making sure to stir occasionally. After 10 minutes, remove from the heat and pour the mixture into a large bowl. Set aside to cool.
2. Clean your pan and heat up the vegetable oil over medium high heat. Cook the Chinese sausage, mushrooms and dried shrimp for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the green onions and cook for another minute. Then set aside to cool.
3. Pour in the cornstarch, rice flour, sugar, salt and white pepper to the daikon mixture. Mix together well. Then add the sausage, mushrooms and shrimp and mix into the batter. Set the bowl aside and wait for 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Oil a loaf pan and then pour the batter inside. Place the loaf pan into a steamer and pour in some water to about halfway where the pan sits. Steam on medium-high heat for 1 hour.
5. Once the turnip cake is cooked, set the pan aside for half an hour to cool. Once it’s cooled, remove it from the pan.
6. Slice the turnip cake into around 1/2-inch slices. When ready to serve, add vegetable oil to a pan and cook the turnip cake slices over medium low heat on both sides for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown.