Did you get the title? If you’ve ever heard Chinese New Year Songs, you would most definitely get it. The Chinese New Year is in two days!! *Gasp* Where did the time go? I haven’t even started spring cleaning yet. Haha! Like I spring clean……It’s like you don’t know me at all. I do cook though. Honestly, that’s about all the CNY celebration I do around here and I’ve already started.
One of the dishes commonly eaten during CNY is the Chinese carrot cake. But because it’s so good, we can’t just have it once a year and that’s why it’s also a Dimsum staple. It is known.
We call it a carrot cake but it’s made with radish. Why? Because the Chinese call radish “white carrot”. Duh. I still remember a funny story from years ago. A Swiss friend had just finished his lunch at a food court in Singapore. He felt that all too familiar need to end the meal on a sweet note and so he went to have a look-see. Imagine his delight when he saw a huge sign that said “Carrot Cake”. After all, carrot cake (the actual cake kind) is so ubiquitous in Switzerland it is practically a national dessert. Now, imagine his confusion and disappointment when he was handed a plate of steaming fried radish cake. I still burst into a fit of giggles whenever I think about it.
Depending on where you have this dish, you might get a plain steamed radish cake or one that is simply a party in your mouth. My version of the carrot cake is the latter. It is choked full of the good stuff. You gotta start the new year right, right? Feel free to adjust the amount of the good stuff, i.e. mushrooms, scallops, etc. to your liking.
Mind you, this is a labour intensive dish but that’s because I don’t have a food processor. So if you have one, it’s gonna be a breeze. It will still be time consuming but oh, so worth it. That being said, I don’t know if I would use a food processor for this even if I had one. I like to julienne the radishes by hand because that way you still keep a bit of bite to the whole cake. Am I the only one who feels weird calling it a cake? You can choose to eat the cake straight out of the steamer but more awesomely, you can pan fry it to a perfect golden crisp and taste heaven on your lips.
This dish freezes very very well. Just slice it up once it’s cool and wrap each portion tightly in clingfoil before putting the packages in a Ziplock bag. Then toss them in the freezer until you’re ready to eat. This is also how I store them in the refrigerator if I’m planning to eat them soonish. They keep well in the fridge for up to a week and months in the freezer.
Chinese Carrot / Radish Cake 萝卜糕
Adapted from Tastehongkong.com
- 700 g Daikon, shredded
- 4 dried mushrooms, soaked and diced
- ½ dried scallop, soaked and shredded
- 1 Tbs dried shrimps, soaked and chopped
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp rice wine
- 3 shallots, minced
- 1/3 cup lardons or chopped lap cheong (I personally prefer the lardons)
- ½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- dash white pepper
- 1 tsp chicken bouillon powder
- 150 g rice flour
- 30 g wheat starch
- 1 1/3 cup water (use the water from soaking the mushrooms and scallop)
- Marinate mushrooms and dried scallops/shrimps in sugar, salt and wine. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Heat 1tbsp oil in a wok and sauté shallots.
- Add in lardons, mushrooms and scallops. Continue to fry for 2 mins.
- Add Daikon and continue to fry until it exudes juice, about 5 mins.
- Add seasoning and mix well.
- Stir in batter and mix well. Turn off heat and continue to mix until mixture is pasty and it gets hard to stir.
- Transfer mixture onto a greased pan, level it out and steam for 40 – 60 mins or until set.
- Allow to cool completely before slicing and frying.