Turnip Cake (Lo Bak Go, 萝卜糕, 蘿蔔糕)
This is Mama Lin’s tried and true recipe for turnip cake (lo bak go). It is made with daikon and flavored with dried shrimp, dried scallops, and Chinese sausage. NOTE: I've updated the recipe on March 4, 2022 to simplify the cooking process and to add some Chinese cured pork (臘肉). You can leave it out or replace with more Chinese sausage.
- 5 to 6 (15g) dried scallops, (see note 1)
- 1/4 cup (20g) dried shrimp
- 3 tablespoons (30g) chopped shallots
- 1/2 cup (65g) chopped Chinese sausage
- 1/4 cup (40g) chopped Chinese cured pork
- 1 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil (any neutral oil works)
- 1 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon (1g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt, use 1/8 teaspoon if using table salt
- 2 1/2 pounds daikon (lo bak)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- 4 to 5 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 1/2 cups (355ml) water
- 2 small pieces (15g) rock sugar, can sub with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon (4g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt, use 1/2 teaspoon if using table salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder, (optional, see note 2)
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup (115g) rice flour, measured with spoon-and-sweep method (see note 3)
- 1 scant cup (115g) cornstarch, measured with spoon-and-sweep method
- 1 cup (255ml) water
Prepare Flavoring Bits
Soak the dried scallops and dried shrimp in water overnight. Drain the water. Shred the scallops with your hands. Roughly chop the dried shrimp.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet (or sauté pan) over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Next, add the dried shrimp, sausage, and cured pork and cook for a minute. Then, add the dried scallops and cook a minute more. Mix in 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and oyster sauce. Turn off the heat and transfer everything to a bowl.
Peel the daikon and slice off the top. Grate the daikon into a 9x13 pan or a bowl. You are doing this to ensure that you save all the daikon juices that release as you are grating the turnips. Alternatively, grate the daikon using a food processor.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large wok (or deep sauté pan) over medium-high heat. Add the garlic to the wok and sauté for about a minute, until fragrant. Transfer the grated daikon (and any daikon juices) into the wok. Add 1 1/2 cups of water, the rock sugar, salt, white pepper, chicken powder, and garlic powder to the wok. Make sure to place the rock sugar into the water to ensure that it dissolves properly. Cover the wok with a lid and cook the daikon on high heat for about 5 to 7 minutes.
While the daikon is cooking, make the batter. Whisk the rice flour and cornstarch in a mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of water and stir. The batter might be stiff at the beginning, but keep stirring until the batter is smooth.
Mix Daikon, Flavoring Bits & Batter
Uncover the wok and reduce the heat to low. Dig out the pieces of garlic from the daikon. You don’t want large chunks of garlic inside the cake. Add the flavoring bits and stir to combine. Then, add the batter to the daikon and stir until batter is no longer runny. The batter should thicken in a minute or two. Turn off the heat.
Lightly grease the cake pan with oil. Transfer all the ingredients from the wok to the cake pan. Use a flexible spatula to smooth out the top of the turnip cake.
Wash the wok. Place a steaming rack in the center of the wok and fill it with enough water so that the water level is just below the top of the steaming rack. Bring the water to boil.
Carefully place the turnip cake on top of the steaming rack. Cover the wok and cook on medium-high for 40 minutes. Make sure to replenish the water after 25 minutes because it will evaporate.
Turn off the heat and uncover the wok. Using oven mitts, transfer the cake to a cooling rack. You may notice some water on top of the steamed cake because of condensation that builds up under the wok lid. That’s okay. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes. If there's still a thin layer of water on top, carefully tip the cake pan to drain the water.
Serving Turnip Cake/Lo Bak Go
Let the cake cool for 30 minutes to 1 hour before slicing and serving. If you want to pan fry the cake, let it cool completely, preferably overnight. The cake needs to set before pan frying. Otherwise, the cake will be soft and mushy.
To pan fry, slice the cake into small squares or rectangles. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turnip cake pieces and pan fry each side for about 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown. Serve the turnip cake with Lao Gan Ma chili crisp or soy sauce.
- These scallops are about 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter (dried).
- My mom uses chicken powder often to enhance the umami flavor of her dishes. Feel free to leave it out. You can substitute the chicken powder with onion powder to give the dish more flavor.
- I usually use Thai rice flour that comes in the bag with the red label. This is NOT glutinous rice flour or mochiko. Sweet rice or glutinous rice flours won't work with this recipe because they will make the cake chewy. I typically weigh my flours. See here for more info about the spoon-and-sweep method of measuring flour.
- You can use an 8x8-inch square pan or any pan that fits inside a wok. If you use a loaf pan, you'll likely need to add another 5 to 10 minutes to the cooking time because of the depth of the pan.
Serving: 1serving | Calories: 266kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 8.1g | Fat: 8.9g | Saturated Fat: 3.1g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 653mg | Fiber: 2.8g | Sugar: 5g
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