It’s Lunar New Year tomorrow, the most important time of year for Chinese people all over the world. Even more excitingly, we are entering the Year of the Dragon – a year filled with expectations of success and prosperity.
One of the traditional dishes you eat around Chinese New Year is radish cake, or lo bak goh in Cantonese. It’s radish as in the Japanese daikon (rather like a turnip), rather than the little red spicy things. It’s common to see radish cake on a dim sum menu all year round, but there’s something special about making it at home yourself. Mum always makes a mean radish cake, but I thought I’d give it a go myself this year.
I followed the recipe from the amazing Appetite for China blog, here. The core ingredients are the radish, rice flour, lap cheong (a dried, smoked fatty sausage, which my mum sent to me from Hong Kong), shiitake mushrooms and dried shrimp. The whole thing looks quite disgusting and probably perplexes most non-Chinese people, but I can assure you it’s delicious when done right.
I could only find a normal turnip – which is slightly different to a daikon. The cake turned out ok, but I think it needed more of ‘umami’ ingredients to balance out. I also found it didn’t steam and set properly so was a little bit wobbly. There are many schools of thought on how to prepare it, and I think the turnip would have been better suited shredded rather than cut into matchsticks.
I served the cake by cutting slices off the cake and frying it for breakfast. Next year, I will make it better!
Tune in tomorrow to see a traditional Chinese pork belly recipe using field&flower pork…