Turnip cakes, or lo bak go, are a mouthwatering type of dim sum – a Chinese meal of small dishes usually served with a tea. Easy to find also on restaurant menus, this is a popular dish to serve during Chinese New Year because in the Hokkien language, “radish” is a homophone for “good fortune”.
Made from sausage, mushrooms, dried shrimp, and daikon radish, which you might recognize as the long white root vegetable with a green leafy top, turnip cake has a wonderful savory, umami-rich flavor with a crispy crust and tender, soft inside.
To make this tasty dim sum, the turnip cake is first steamed then pan-fried. Turnip cakes are incredibly easy to make. So whether you're preparing a delicious feast for Lunar New Year, or simply looking for a fantastic dim sum recipe to try, you'll love this excellent, pungent turnip cake recipe.
Chinese turnip cake, or lo bak go, is a delicious type of dim sum. Despite its name, turnip cake is neither sweet nor baked. It's made from Chinese radish (lo bak means turnip in Cantonese).
Also known as luo bo gao (Mandarin), turnip cake is a traditional appetizer enjoyed during the Chinese Lunar New Year. It has a wonderful savory flavor thanks to a variety of aromatic, flavorful ingredients.
To pick the best turnip (daikon radish) for making your turnip cake, look for the heaviest turnips. Heavy turnips have a higher water content, which is desirable when you're making lo bak go.
To make turnip cakes at home, you'll need a few special ingredients.
First, you'll need daikon radishes or Chinese turnips.
To get that wonderful rich umami flavor in your turnip cakes, you'll also need dried shrimp, Chinese sausage, and shiitake mushrooms. You can find these ingredients in your local Chinatown or at brick-and-mortar or online specialty stores.
Rice flour makes up the bulk of the cake, while cornstarch helps thicken up the batter.
Chopped green onions add a bright hint of green.
Salt, sugar, and white pepper are used to season the batter.
The best way to cut the Chinese sausage for your turnip cakes is to dice it into small pieces, the same way you would cut chorizo or dried salami for other recipes.
Use a sharp knife so it's easy to cut through the sausage.
While there are a few steps involved, making homemade lo bak go is super easy. We've broken it down step-by-step so you can make the perfect Chinese turnip cakes whether this is your first time or your fiftieth.
In a large wok, combine the grated daikon with 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook the turnip for 10 minutes, then take the radish out and put it into a bowl.
Pour the leftover cooking liquid into a measuring cup, then add enough water to make up 1 cup. Pour the liquid into the bowl with the turnip and let the mixture cool.
To make the filling, sauté the shrimp, sausage, and mushrooms for 5 minutes. Add in the green onions, then take the wok off the heat. Let the mixture cool.
Mix the rice flour, salt, sugar, and white pepper in with the cooked turnip. Stir in the shrimp mixture, making sure to add in the oil from the wok, then let the batter rest for 15 minutes.
Transfer the batter to a greased loaf pan, then place it in a steamer for 50 minutes. Remove it from the steamer and let it set for half an hour before slicing.
Heat oil in a pan. Working in batches, so you don't overcrowd the pan, fry the turnip cakes on both sides until they're beautifully golden brown and crispy. Serve and enjoy!
Once the turnip cake has set, turn it out onto a cutting board. Cut the cake with a sharp knife into rectangular slices about 1/2-inch thick.
To make vegan turnip cakes, leave out the shrimp and sausage.
Serve your turnip cakes with a side of oyster sauce for dipping.
For softer turnip cakes, add ¼ cup of boiling water to the batter.
If your batter is too thin, cook it on low until it thickens up, stirring regularly.
If you prefer, you can enjoy your turnip cake once it has set. However, this dish is mostly served once the cakes have been fried.
Keep your turnip cakes in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat them, simply fry them in a pan until they're warmed through.
Of course! Frozen turnip cakes will last up to one month.
Place daikon radish and 1 cup of water in a wok. Bring the water to a simmer, and let the mixture cook for 10 minutes, stirring periodically.
After the turnip has cooked, transfer it to a bowl. Set it aside to cool.
Pour any liquid in the wok into a measuring cup. Add water so there is 1 cup of liquid. Mix the liquid into the turnip.
Heat oil in the wok. Sauté the shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, and sausage over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Mix in the green onions, then take the wok off the heat.
Mix the rice flour, cornstarch, salt, sugar, and white pepper into the radish.
Add in the shrimp mixture, including the oil from the pan. Leave the batter to sit for 15 minutes.
Transfer the batter to a greased pan. Put it into a steamer for 50 minutes.
Take the pan out of the steamer and leave the cake to set for about 30 minutes.
Turn it out onto a cutting board. Cut the turnip cake into 1/2-inch thick slices.
Heat oil in a pan. Fry the turnip cakes on each side until golden brown and crispy. Serve and enjoy!
Use a loaf pan for steaming your turnip cakes.