Shiitake and tofu turnip cake
This recipe is by editor Hetty McKinnon, and appears in Issue One: Chinatown
Lo Bock Gow or ‘turnip cake’ is made of daikon. This is one of my favourite Cantonese dishes at Yum Cha (or dim sum), but the restaurant dish simply can’t compare to the plump and juicy homemade version. The shredded daikon is combined with fillings and rice flour, which, when steamed, gel together to become a solid, silky ‘cake’. Traditional recipes use Chinese sausage or dried scallops but I have improvised with robust shiitake, five spice tofu and the addition of scallions. It takes about 2 hours to steam, and is best eaten pan-fried, topped with a mother-load of coriander leaves, scallions and sriracha!
Use a 20cm/8inch square pan, lined with baking paper, or a 22cm/9inch greased springform pan.
Makes 20 pieces
1kg (2lb) daikon radish, peeled
50g (1.8oz) dried shiitake, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes
2 tablespoon sunflower or olive oil
½ teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon five spice powder
200g (7oz) five spice tofu, finely diced
3 scallions, finely sliced
1 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari (for gluten free)
2 cups rice flour
scallions, finely sliced
sesame seeds, toasted
Shred the daikon with the widest setting on a box grater or the grater attachment on food processor and set aside. Prepare the mushrooms by removing the stems and then finely dicing.
In a large pot or dutch oven, add 1 tablespoon of oil and then the mushrooms. Season the mushrooms with sugar, sea salt, white pepper and five spice powder. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then add the tofu and the soy sauce/tamari. Cook on medium heat for another 2 minutes, stir in the Chinese scallions/scallions and then transfer everything to a bowl and set aside.
Place the same pot on medium heat, drizzle in 1 tablespoon of oil, along with the shredded daikon and a big pinch of salt. Cook until translucent, about 10-12 minutes. When ready, turn the heat down to low and, preferably using a pair of chopsticks, stir in the mushroom tofu mixture. Now, add the rice flour a little at a time, stirring constantly to combine well. If the mixture is too thick to stir, just add 1-2 tablespoons of water to loosen it up enough to combine but the final mixture should be very sticky and tight.
Spoon the mixture into your prepared pan, patting and smoothing the top with the back of the spoon. Set up a wok or large saucepan to steam. I use a wok with a little steamer tray but you could use any metal objects such as strong cookie cutters or even several balls of foil to balance your dish. Fill the wok or pan with plenty of water, bring to the boil, and steam on medium heat for 1 – 1.5 hours – you will need to refill the water at the bottom of the pan several times during this period as the water will evaporate.
The turnip cake is cooked once it is firm to the touch. You can cut into slices and eat immediately, but I prefer to allow it to cool for 2-3 hours (or overnight in fridge), then pan-fry squares. To serve, top with chopped scallions, coriander leaves, sriracha sauce and toasted sesame seeds.