It’s Chinese New Year, or as we say “Xin Nian Kaui Le” / 新年快樂!! For my last Chinese New Year I did some speeches in Glasgow but this year I neither planned to do speeches or really cook a lot of food as I’m 33 weeks pregnant.
It’s quite painful for me to stand for a whole day so big meals are completely out of the question right now. So this year I wanted to do something really simple but really delicious and so I decided to prepare some sweet rice cake and this turnip cake (the sweet rice cake will come in a later blog post).
I’ve always been a big fan of turnip cake. Yeah I know what a lot of people are thinking, turnip, gross(!), which is exactly how my husband described turnip. Whenever I eat dim sum at a Chinese restaurant one of the things I absolutely have to eat is turnip dim sum. There sadly aren’t any restaurants in Edinburgh that sell turnip dim sum and the one time we ordered turnip cake at a restaurant here it was really bad.
So this is my style of turnip cake. I took some influence from recipes I found online but also added my own touches to it. One of these touches was to use gammon steak instead of Chinese ham or Chinese sausage. These ingredients are quite hard to find here but they can also be expensive and as you can imagine with a baby on the way we’re trying to cut down on costs. Also as a note Chinese ham and sausage tends to have really strong flavours which take over the dish. This is something I don’t want.
The main ingredient of this turnip cake is white radish, which is available in most Chinese supermarkets. We believe white radish has a meaning of “lucky” and rice cake has a meaning of “get a promotion or good grade at work or through your studies”. So I hope this New Year dish will bring you good luck, promotion or good grade for your job or study in dragon year.
Just also a quick mention, of course it is now year of the dragon so I will be making some design changes to my website to reflect this really soon.
400g Thai rice
100g rice flour
1000g Shredded radish
Handful dried prawns. Soften in hot water then drain. Chop finely.
6 dried shitake mushrooms, soften in hot water then drain and chop finely
Handful pork mince, marinade with 2 tablespoons light soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, ½ teaspoon five spice powder
1 slice gammon steak, cut into tiny dice
2 shallots, chop finely
3 garlic, chop finely
Seasonings for mince garnish:
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
Some pepper powder
Seasonings for radish:
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
- Soak thai rice in 600g water overnight (at least 6 hours) then use a smoothie machine or blender to blend the rice and water until it looks like soy milk.
- Mix step one with 100g of rice flour and make sure there are no lumps at all.
- Heat some oil in the wok and sauté shallot and garlic first until the aroma comes out.
- Add shitake mushroom, dried prawn to stir fry it for a good 2~3 minutes.
- Add mince and gammon steak into step 4 and all the seasonings from mince garnish. Stir-fry it for another few minutes until the mince is totally cooked. Put the mince garnish on a plate and leave it aside.
- Use the same wok with a little bit more oil and cook the radish with seasonings. You need to cook the radish until it’s soft and the water comes out from the radish. If the water doesn’t come out it could affect the quality of the final turnip cake.
- Add mince garnish into step 6 after the radish is soft and mix them evenly.
- Combine step 2 with the radish and turn the gas power down. Keep stirring until it looks like “paste” and turn off the cooker. If you feel the mixture is a little dry or too solid, you can add some water.
- This recipe can make 5~6 (6”x4”x2”) tin foil boxes size turnip cakes. So brush thin layer of oil in the tin foil boxes and pour the rice cake mix into the box.
- Use a steamer to steam the rice cakes. If like myself you’re using a metal steamer, use a clean tea towel to effectively tie down the lid. This prevents water dripping from the lid onto the rice cake, which can affect the final result. Once the water is boiling under the steamer, steam for around 45 minutes.
- You have to wait until the rice cakes have totally cooled down to allow you to remove them from the tin (otherwise they stick). Cut your turnip cake into 1cm thick slices. Heat up a little bit of oil in a frying pan or wok and fry the cakes until it’s golden brown colour on both side. Serve with a little bit of soy sauce or sweet chili sauce. Note the sweet chilli sauce isn’t the traditional condiment to go with your turnip cake but Chris loves it!