I posted a photo on Instagram earlier and did not expect the overwhelming number of recipe requests. I shouldn’t be surprised, as lo bak go (蘿蔔糕) is a well loved dim sum item. Moreover, it’s a Chinese New Year staple.
Savoury meat-studded steamed cakes (e.g. made with radish or taro root) and dessert steamed cakes (e.g. red bean, water chestnut, sticky brown sugar coconut) represent optimism towards a more prosperous year. (“Cake” in Chinese is homonymic with “rising up”).
So here it is, my friends. This is the ultimate recipe for the best Chinese radish cake that I’ve ever had, just in time for Lunar or Chinese New Year. Exaggeration, you ask? You be the judge.
This particular recipe was passed down to me from an auntie that I love. She learned how to make this traditional dish from a Michelin Star chef in Hong Kong.
I adapted the recipe by increasing the amount of Chinese sausage and bacon. I also added dried scallops to fancy it up some more, but that’s entirely optional. Also, depending on how juicy your radish is, you may want to adjust the amount of liquid or flour. My grandmother would have simply told me to “adjust it by touch” and I’m not about to intervene with her golden words.
Try it, enjoy it, and have a wonderful year of the snake!
Easy Recipe for the Best Chinese Radish or Turnip Cake (Lo Bak Go 蘿蔔糕)
- 800 grams (about 2-3 radishes) white Asian radish or daikon, peel and jardiniere (batons) or julienne to desired thickness
- 90 grams rice flour (not glutinous)
- 50 grams water chestnut flour. Use rice flour if you cannot find this.
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar, and more for tossing with the radish
- 120 mL chicken stock
- 1-2 links Chinese sausage, diced
- 2 thin slabs Chinese bacon (cured pork belly), diced
- 2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
- Salt and white pepper to taste
- 2-4 (optional) dried scallops, soaked in water over night and shredded
- Toss the radish with 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoon of brown sugar. Steam for 20 minutes until tender.
- In the mean time, sauté the Chinese sausage and bacon in a heavy bottom pot until edges are golden. Deglaze with Chinese cooking wine. Turn off the heat.
- Add the steamed radish into the pot and toss with the meat.
- In a large bowl, combine the chicken stock, flours, and 200 mL of the liquid left from steaming the radish. Add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt, and white pepper to taste to the slurry.
- Pour the slurry in with the radish and meat mixture and stir to combine. Add the dried scallops if you have some on hand.
- Transfer the mixture to an oiled, heat resistant dish. Steam the mixture over medium heat for 1 hour. Alternatively, cover and bake in a bain-marie at 300ºF for 1 hour.
- Test for doneness with a skewer. It should be slightly soft, but not pasty.
- Allow it to cool completely. Slice into 1/2 inch slices and pan fry until golden brown. Serve with your favourite chili paste.