September 10, 2010

Turnip Cake (Law Bok Gow)

Law Bok Gow (萝卜糕) is one of the beloved dishes from dim sum restaurants. "Law Bok" in Cantonese means "daikon radish" and "Gow" means cake. Of course, "cake" in this instance is not referring to the quintessential American cakes. Law Bok Gow is more of a semi-firm savory pudding. Traditional Law Bok Gow is a steamed velvety "cake" studded with daikon radish, Chinese sausages, shiitake mushroom, scallions and dried shrimp. Law Bok Gow is to Chinese New Year as gingerbread cookies is to Christmas. While mostly served in dim sum restaurants, Law Bok Gow is an auspicious dish served during Chinese New Year. Law Bok Gow is sometimes referred to as Turnip Cake or Daikon Radish Cake.

This is a vegetarian/vegan version of the recipe. Dried shiitake mushrooms are used in this recipe (optional if you don't like its taste). Soak dried mushrooms for a few hours and then it's ready to be used. I omitted shiitake mushrooms when I was making this because Vance hates shiitake mushrooms. Other possible filling for Law Bok Gow are chopped Chinese sausage, dried shrimp and chopped scallions. The recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups of filling so adjust as you see fit. Your main ingredient, however, should be daikon radish.

Daikon radishes, photo from Wikipedia.

I like to make my Law Bok Gow with roughly chopped daikon radish because I like to bite into pieces of daikon radish. You can chop them smaller if that is what you prefer. You might want to make Law Bok Gow the day before you plan to serve it because you have to steam it and then let it cool before slicing and pan frying it. Law Bok Gow is served with soy sauce or oyster sauce (or vegetarian oyster sauce).

Here's a tip for steaming. If you are steaming something for a long time, you might encounter instances where water inside your wok is drying out. Keep a pot of boiling water next to you when you're steaming so you can just pour hot water into the wok to replenish the water. This saves the steaming time because you don't have to wait for cold water to boil again.

2 cups chopped daikon radish
1/2 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms
1 cup water
2 cups rice flour
1 teaspoon oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine

In a pan, heat oil over medium heat. Saute daikon radish and shiitake mushrooms. When the radish starts to turn translucent, turn off the heat and set the mixture aside to cool.

Combine water, rice flour, salt, white pepper, sesame oil and Chinese cooking wine. When the radish mixture had cooled, combine them and pour into a loaf pan (or a cake pan). You are gonna get a batter with the consistency of milk. That's normal. It will congeal as it steams.

Set up your steamer. Place a metal rack in the middle of the wok or a pot. Add in about 3 inches of water. Cover your wok or pot and let the water boil over high heat. Once the water starts to boil, turn the heat down to medium.

Place the loaf pan on top of the metal rack. Cover and let it steam. Check occasionally to replenish water. Let  it steam for about 1.5 hours. The cake is done if a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Depending on the cooking vessel, steaming time range between 1.5 hours to 2 hours.

 Once the Law Bok Gow is cooked, let it cool for at least 2 hours. You can just put plastic wrap on top of the Law Bok Gow and  store it inside the fridge for a few days.

To serve, invert the pan and cut the cake into squares. Cut to about an inch thick. The thicker they are, the less likely they will fall apart.

In a pan, heat some oil over medium heat and pan fry Law Bok Gow until it's browned on both sides

Serve Law Bok Gow with oyster sauce (or vegetarian soy sauce) or soy sauce.


Vance said...

Reading this blog post makes me want to eat it again :)

winniethepooh said...

hi raymond,
was looking for a vegetarian turnip cake and came to your blog. was trying out this when i mix the flour mixture i think there might be something wrong with the portion of flour and water? it didnt came up to a milk like consistency, but a paste like..its is 1:1 for flour and water? can you verify? thanks..and send regards to ur grandma too! :)


Raymond Ho said...

Hi Winniethepooh, I'm gonna have to revisit the recipe and make it again to verify. I know I had make this a few times because the cake is either too hard or too soft.

It's also probably because of my daikon that's watery (making the batter much more watery than yours).

Haruto said...