Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Law Bak Goh (Turnip Cake)
There is two parts to making this cake. First you must cook the cake by steaming it, then let it sit overnight or 12 hours in the fridge; at which time, you can then take out from the fridge and slice thinly and then fry. While this is very much a tradition at Chinese New Year, you can make and eat this year round and is served often at Yum Cha (tea time) also known as Dim Sum.
This is the delicious savoury cake served in dim sum restaurants throughout the year and, most auspiciously on Chinese New Year's day as a symbol of prosperity and rising fortune.
Turnip cake is made with Chinese turnip (law bak) which is a type of daikon radish. Not to be confused with the Japanese daikon radish, the Chinese turnip is more blemished looking and preferable to the Japanese turnip when making this dish.
This recipe makes one 8-inch cake and will keep nicely in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for about 10 days - chances are it will be eaten WAY before that!
6oz Chinese sausage - turkey (in Cantonese they would use pork and the sausage is called "Lap Cheung" you can ask at the store if they have it in turkey/beef/chicken)*
2-3lbs Chinese white turnip
8 Chinese dried mushrooms (shitake)
1/2 cup Chinese dried shrimp, about 1 1/4 oz
2 stalks Chinese green onion, sliced (optional)
2 teaspoons rice cooking wine
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups rice flour
Toasted Sesame Seeds
1. Soak the mushrooms in 1/2 cup of water for about 30 minutes, or until softened. Drain and squeeze dry, reserving the soaking liquid. Cut off and discard the stems and dice the mushroom caps. Also soak the shrimp until they are hydrated.
2. Meanwhile, peel and grate the turnip into a large saucepan. Add some water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until tender. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.
3. Dice the bacon or sausage. In a wok or skillet, stir-fry the meat until they begin to release fat and start to brown. Add the diced mushrooms and shrimp and stir-fry until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in rice wine and sugar. OPTIONAL: sliced green onion added to this will also give some more flavour. Add salt to taste.
4. Add drained turnip to this mixture. Stir to combine and remove from heat.
5. Place rice flour in a large bowl and slowly mix in the reserved liquids until the consistency of pancake batter. Stir batter into turnip and meat mixture until combined. The consistency will resemble that of rice pudding. Line a 8-inch baking dish with parchment paper at bottom and along the sides, then pour mixture into a greased 8-inch round.
6. Steam for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, or until the cake is set and firm to the touch. Continually check the water levels and replenish as needed with boiling water. (If the top becomes “wet” from the water from steaming, use paper towels to soak it up)
7. When ready, carefully remove from steamer, sprinkle with some sesame seeds, and allow to cool on a cooling rack for about 1 hour, then carefully remove the parchment paper from the sides and refrigerate for several hours or overnight until firm, covered in plastic wrap.
8. When ready, slice to desired thickness (about ½ - 1”), heat oil in a frying pan and fry until golden brown on both sides. Serve hot.
Good with chili sauce like Sri Racha, but traditionally eaten with oyster sauce.
(While this is a very traditional recipe, I must give credit to my friend Alison who gave me the recipe which I have used for a couple of years now.)
* Originally, this recipe calls for 6oz Chinese bacon (lap yuk) or Chinese sausage (lap cheung) and/or BBQ Pork (Char siu), for those who do not eat pork, you can find Chinese sausage made from turkey and is a perfect replacement. Or you can omit this ingredient altogether to make it a completely vegetarian law bak goh (also omit the shrimps if doing this).