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Friday, 14 March 2014

Don't Ask Me Where's the Carrot...

One of my favorite chinese cakes is the Loh Pak Kou or in the Hokkien dialect, we call it Chai Tao Kuey.  Those days i only get to eat them when Ah Mah made them during festivals.  I remember Mum pan frying them and how i love eating them with chilli sauce. I never learnt how to make it from Ah Mah though, which is a pity. It's a good thing that they easily available in dim sum restaurants and food stalls nowadays :)

The Loh Pak Kou is a steamed savoury cake made with grated white radish/daikon.  Instead of Radish Cake, it's more popularly known as Turnip Cake or Carrot Cake.  Quite a misnomer since you won't find turnips or carrots in them.  The name Carrot Cake came about probably because a radish is known as 'white carrot' in chinese.

These cakes are mostly served pan fried or stir-fried with some condiments like the one i have here although i don't mind eating it plain.

Apologies for not having any photos to show what it looks like right out of the steaming pan.   It was dark by the time this was ready and i didn't have any time for photos before i stir-fried it for breakfast the next morning.

I already have a keeper recipe for this but decided to give Anne's recipe a try this time.  I noticed hers has a higher ratio of radish to flour/water than most of our local recipes and sounded luxurious with a generous addition of other ingredients.  I am guessing hers is more towards the Hong Kong style of making it since that's where she's residing.  I like the idea of having a lot more radish in it but i have to admit i was a little worried that it might turned out hard for my liking judging from the amount of water used. Surprisingly it wasn't, probably water/juice from the large amount of radish helped balance the ratio.  But i would note that it's a little firmer than the our local ones.

Btw, Anne has quite a repertoire of Chinese dishes although she is not a Chinese and this Chinese here has actually picked up quite a few dishes from her :)

The most difficult part (painful to be exact) in making this cake is grating the radish (unless you have some sophisticated grater which i don't), the rest of the steps are fairly easy.  All it requires is to stir-fry the other ingredients before adding flour to bind everything together and then it goes into the steamer for an hour or so.

I thought since the cake is Hong Kong style and taking a cue from Anne, i might as well  give it a Hong Kong style stir-fry, with some XO sauce where it originated.   You have to give it to them when it comes to putting lavishness into food.  For the uninitiated, XO sauce is a spicy seafood based sauce, some say it's the king of all sauces.  A typical Malaysian version will use its cheaper cousin, soy sauce to flavor our loh pak kou instead.

The cake was delicious, soft and flavorful.  The little pieces of sausage and mushroom added some flavors and bites into the dish while the XO sauce provided umami flavors that blended well with the cake.   Downed with a glass of lemon barley, it made a satisfying breakfast!

Thank you, Anne for this recipe!

Source: Anne of My Bare Cupboard

  • 1 kg (970 grams peeled weight) Chinese white radish - mine was 950g peeled weight
  • 2 pieces Chinese sausage (lap cheong / pork sausage and yun cheong / duck's liver sausage) - cut down to 1.5 piece lap cheong since i had 1/2 left
  • 3 tablespoons dried shrimps
  • 4-5 dried mushrooms 
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp chicken powder
  • 1 tsp raw sugar (or granulated sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 180 grams rice flour
  • 35 grams potato starch (or cornstarch/tapioca)
  • 1 cup water
  1. Grease a 8x8 inch square pan or a 8 x 3-inch round cake pan. (A loose bottom pan will make it easier to remove or cut the cake, i normally leave the cake in the pan and cut out the portion needed)
  2. Radish- grate finely.
  3. Chinese Sausage-place in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes to allow it to soften then remove the membrane casing and dice it.
  4. Dried Shrimps-soak in some water to soften, discard water then chop coarsely.
  5. Dried Mushrooms-soak in some water to soften, remove stalk, squeeze to remove soaking water then dice.
  6. In a small mixing bowl, combine rice flour and potato starch, mix well then add in the water.  Use a wire whisk to combine everything together until there are no lumps, set aside .
  7. Heat wok or a large pan, pour 2 teaspoons of oil then add in the sausages, shrimps and mushrooms, cook for about 3 minutes .
  8. Add in the grated radish, season with pepper, chicken powder, sugar and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes or until  radish is soft and translucent.
  9. Take pan off heat.
  10. Give the flour/water mixture a stir to make sure flour doesn't sink to the bottom before adding it into the radish mixture. Mix and stir thoroughly, it should look like a sticky batter.  If it is a bit runny, put back the pan to the stove, over low/medium heat stir the mixture for few seconds for it to thicken.
  11. Transfer to the prepared pan and steamed over medium-high heat for 1 hour. 
  12. Leave turnip cake inside the wok , for it to cool completely.
Serving Methods
  1. Serve warm-When the cake has cool slightly, cut rectangular pieces and serve with chilli sauce or a drizzle of soy sauce.
  2. Pan Fry-Cut rectangular pieces and pan fry both sides until golden brown.  Serve with chilli sauce or a drizzle of soy sauce.
  3. Stir Fry (Portion for 1)
    1. Cut cake into small cubes, pour in 1 tbsp of oil pan fry until lightly-browned, transfer to a plate . 
    2. In the same pan, add 1 tsp of oil followed by 1 tbsp of preserved radish (optional but if used it is to be washed and drained), stir fry until fragrant.
    3. Add in 1 tbsp XO sauce, mix well.
    4. Add in cake cubes, stir gently to combine and cook for about a minute . 
    5. Spread cake cubes in 1 layer then pour in 1 beaten egg.   
    6. Add in some slice spring onions when egg is about to set. Fry until golden brown.
    7. Transfer to a plate and garnish with more sliced spring onions and XO sauce if preferred.  Serve hot.
    1. With minimal variations from the original recipe in the steps taken.
    2. I would normally chill the cake overnight before pan frying it the next day.  The cake becomes firmer after chilling making it easier to cut and fry.


    Mine too, mine too! The stir-fry looks droolworthy!

    Mmmm......YUM.....this is one of my favourite be it having it for breakfast or for lunch!! I frequent make this too when Im out of ideas what to prepare for breakfast. The only thing I dreaded is having to shred the radish....tiring!

    Beautiful savory breakfast! Very creative...:) ela

    looks delicious! I have bookmarked this recipe to try too! Now wait for water rationing to stop:P

    Luce delicioso y bello a toda hora como desayuno me encanta,abrazos.

    Ade , I'm coming over right now ! I'll probably bring in some bottled water lol Hope the rationing of water is over ?! I'm so glad that you like the recipe ! Actually , I keep changing the recipe depending on how much radish I have on hand , good thing that it almost always turn out okay since grating radish is a lot of work , okay , maybe not now that I bought a box grater :D

    Fried Chai Thow Kuih [Fried Carrot Cake] - definitely can't see the carrot but can taste it. My late FIL's favourite. I prefer this compared to Fried Rice Cake [Char Koay Kak].

    Oh dear, I love chai tao kueh very much and I do miss it a lot! Eating it is so comforting and I can really polish off quite a lot hah..hah...

    I have never made this, but always bring it home when my mom makes it...yours look delicious!
    Hope you are having a great week :D

    Chai tao kueh with XO sauce! Ohhh... It does very luxurious to me and surely it tastes with an XO standard! It's ok even if no one can spot the carrot... It is the taste that matters!


    Love this and if stir fry with some chillies, wow, yummy and irresistible.

    i nvr tried xo sauce, i think i hv never tasted the sauce before..this must be so delicious cos it looks really good here!

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