Friday, February 02, 2007

Lok Bak Gow/Radish Cake

It has been a tiring week so far. One of the kids has an ear infection and a wet cough, while another has the croup, a viral infection that usually occurs in children 3 months to 5 years of age between winter and spring. The little one has a barking cough and a hard time breathing. Caring for my little darlings has left me little time for anything else, so I have been making the regular stand-by meals of chicken soups, home-made broths and whatever I can get them to consume. I resorted to a little baking and experimenting in the kitchen in the wee hours of the night. It was my little 'me time' with my hobby in my kitchen.

A friend of mine had mentioned about having lok bak gow or radish cake for breakfast in Singapore. The last time I had that was at a local dim sum place and it was greesy and cold. So after she revived my memory of the crispy, savory snack found in Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong (that I've tasted so far), I decided to try my hand on making some too. Tested this recipe on Lok Bak Gow/Radish Cake from Grace Young in Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen which is also available at epicurious, and substituted some ingredients based on what I have in the fridge and pantry. Her description of the method was very thorough, and not complicated at all. I halved the recipe and it came out very tasty. I might have added too much bacon then called for in the recipe this time. Curbed my craving for the time being. Will tweak on this recipe or try another when I have more time on my hands.

Recipe from Grace Young
6 ounces Chinese bacon (lop yok) (I used a slab of smoked applewood bacon)
1 large Chinese white turnip/daikon, about 2 pounds
8 Chinese dried mushrooms
1/2 cup Chinese dried shrimp, about 1 1/4 ounces
2 teaspoons Shao Hsing rice cooking wine
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups rice flour (I used a little more for a firmer cake)

Cut the bacon into 3 equal pieces and place in a 9-inch shallow heatproof bowl. Bring water to a boil over high heat in a covered steamer large enough to fit the bowl without touching the sides of the steamer. Carefully place the bowl into steamer, cover, reduce heat to medium, and steam 15 to 20 minutes, or just until the bacon is softened and there are juices in the dish. Check the water level from time to time and replenish, if necessary, with boiling water. Carefully remove the dish from the steamer and set aside to cool.
Peel the turnip and grate to make about 4 1/2 cups. In a 3-quart saucepan, combine grated turnip and about 1 quart cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes, or until very tender. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, soak the mushrooms in 1/2 cup cold water 30 minutes, or until softened. Drain and squeeze dry, reserving the soaking liquid. Cut off and discard stems and mince the caps. In a small bowl, soak the dried shrimp in 1/2 cup cold water for 30 minutes, or until softened. Drain, reserving soaking liquid. Finely chop shrimp and set aside.
Remove the bacon from its dish and reserve the juices. Cut off and discard the rind and the thick layer of fat. Cut the remaining meat into paper-thin slices and then finely chop. In a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or skillet, stir-fry the chopped bacon over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until meat releases fat and just begins to brown. Add the minced mushrooms and shrimp, and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice wine, sugar, and pan juices from the bacon, and stir to combine. Remove from heat.
Return the cooked, drained turnip to the saucepan, add the bacon and mushroom mixture, and stir to combine. In a large bowl, combine the rice flour and the reserved mushroom and shrimp soaking liquids, stirring until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of the hot turnip broth. Pour this batter into the saucepan, add the salt, and stir until combined. The consistency will resemble that of rice pudding. Pour mixture into a heatproof 8-inch round, 3- to 4-inch-deep, straight-sided bowl, such as a soufflé dish.
Bring water to a boil over high heat in a covered steamer large enough to fit the dish without touching the sides of the steamer. Carefully place the dish into the steamer, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and steam 1 hour, or just until cake is set and is firm to the touch. Check the water level and replenish, if necessary, with boiling water. Carefully remove the bowl from the steamer and allow to cool on a rack for about 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 to 4 hours.
Run a knife along the edge of the cake to loosen sides. Place a cake rack over the bowl and invert to unmold. Flip the cake right-side up onto a cutting board. Wrap the cake in plastic and refrigerate until ready to use.
When ready to eat, cut cake into quarters. Cut each quarter crosswise, not into wedges, but into two 2-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip crosswise into scant 1/2-inch-thick slices. This is the typical way of slicing a cake Chinese style.
Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or skillet, over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add just enough oil to barely coat the wok. Add the turnip cake slices in batches and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden brown.

Serve immediately with chilli sauce.

Recipe from Grace Young in epicurious.


Little Corner of Mine said...

Mmmm...this look yummy! I love radish cake. :) Man, if only we live closer...

You know what, I think your granite countertop looks like the one we ordered for our basement bathroom. It has some gold color in it right?

Anonymous said...

Hi V
this really looks good, really admire your cooking. as for the kids, try not to use too much chicken, when they're having cough.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I love lobak goh too, but now you have given me the receipe. I may want to try it out. but probably not turned out as good as yours.

East Meets West Kitchen said...

Hi Bel,
Thanks! Aiyah, chicken soup is the remedy here, besides they only drink the broth and the veggies lah!:)

Hi Ching,
Err, mine has more of an orangy color leh...:)

A Mature Student said...

Val, this is so good....I will definitely try this now that you have tried it and it looks absolutely scrumptious.

My daughter's favourite.

Thank you! :))

East Meets West Kitchen said...

dr ve thru,
You are welcome! Let me know how yours turn up. Remember to use less rice flour if you want a 'softer' lor bak gao.