Turnip cake is a popular dim sum appetizer. This recipe packs in extra daikon and is super flavorful from the addition of dried shrimp, shiitake mushroom, and fried shallot.
Turnip cake (lo bak go in Cantonese, 蘿蔔糕 in Mandarian) is a classic dim sum appetizer. Although Chinese turnip cake has the word ‘turnip’ in it, this dish does not include the western style turnips. Instead, this dish uses daikon, which is a white winter radish with a mild flavor.
The most common way of serving this appetizer is cutting the steamed cake into squares/rectangles and pan-frying it. This process makes the turnip cake soft in the middle and crispy on the outside. However, some people choose to eat this dish without pan-frying. Some recipes also add in Chinese sausage and Jinhua ham for extra umami flavor. Turnip cakes at dim sum places can tend to have less daikon and more rice flour. So making this turnip cake recipe at home is a great way to make a version with more daikon flavor!
How to Make Turnip Cake
Prepare the Filling
First, reconstitute the shiitake mushrooms and dried shrimps in water. If using the smaller, papery dried shrimps (like the ones I am using), you do not need to reconstitute them. If you want the mushrooms to hydrate quicker, use warm/hot water to speed up the process.
Once the mushrooms and shrimps are fully hydrated, squeeze out and reserve any excess liquid. This reconstituting liquid is used in the batter later. Dice the mushroom into small cubes.
Prepare the Daikon
After making this dish several times, I found that Korean daikon (shown below) is the best. It is less bitter in comparison to the Chinese variant. Also, since daikon is a winter radish, daikon used during the winter season will taste better.
Begin by peeling and grating the daikon. Add the grated daikon to a wok or large pot and enough water until the daikon is almost covered, around one to two cups. Turn the stove on and bring the daikon to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes, stirring a few times, until the daikon is tender.
Prepare the Batter
While the daikon is cooking, mix the dry ingredients. Once done boiling, measure the liquid reserved from the mushrooms/shrimps. Then, add the water from boiling the turnip for a total of 1 cup. Add it to the dry ingredients.
Dry the wok/pot and heat some oil. Add the shrimp, mushrooms, and shallots and stir fry for a few minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant. Mix the cooked shrimp, mushroom, and shallots into the batter.
Cook the Turnip Cake
Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan or glass container and steam for 50 minutes. Remove and let the turnip cake cool before taking it out of the container. Slice into squares of desired thickness and pan-fry over medium heat for a few minutes on each side. Serve with or without dipping sauce.
Refrigerate or freeze the leftovers. It will last up to 3 days in the fridge. To freeze, you can freeze the turnip cake whole or sliced. Note that frozen turnip cake becomes softer and falls apart more easily
Turnip Cake (Lo Bak Go, 蘿蔔糕)
- 1 daikon radish 567 g grated
- 1 tbsp dried shrimp 10 g
- 4 shiitake mushrooms 20g
- 3 tbsp fried shallot
- 1 1/4 cups rice flour 130 g
- 1 tbsp cornstarch 8 g
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
- Reconstitute the dried shrimp and shiitake mushrooms in some water until softened. Squeeze out and reserve the excess water. Chop the mushroom into small cubes. Note 1
- Grate the turnip and add it to a wok or large pot. Add just enough water so that the turnip is almost covered (1-2 cups). Boil the turnip for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to cook evenly.
- Add all of the dry ingredients to a large bowl. Measure the liquid reserved from the mushrooms/shrimps and add enough water from boiling the turnip for a total of 1 cup of liquid. Add it to the dry ingredients.
- Drain out the rest of the turnip cooking liquid and add the cooked turnip to the mixing bowl.
- Dry your wok/pot and place it over medium heat. Add some oil. Add the shrimp, mushrooms, and shallots. Stir fry for a few minutes until golden brown and fragrant.
- Add the cooked shrimp, mushroom, and shallots to the mixing bowl. Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan or glass container. Place the pan into a steamer and steam for 50 minutes.
- Remove and let the turnip cake cool before taking it out of the container. Slice and pan-fry over medium heat for a few minutes on each side. Refrigerate or freeze the leftovers. Note 2
- Reconstituting whole shittake mushrooms can take up to several hours. If you are in a rush, use warm/hot water to reconstitute the mushrooms quicker. Also, if you are using the paper dried shrimp like I am using, you do not need to reconstitute them.
- You can freeze the turnip cake whole or pre-sliced. Note that the turnip cake will get much softer after freezing.