Chinese Turnip Cake (蘿蔔糕)

I had planned for this recipe to be published last week before Chinese New Year but I was too caught up enjoying the family gatherings and catch ups with friends that I only had time to put the finishing touches on it today! If you’ve ever been a dim sum restaurant you will most probably have had turnip cake before. This dish is especially popular around Chinese New Year along with the “Year Cake”. One of the words for cake in Chinese is 糕 and shares the same pronunciation with 高, the character for high. So starting eat cakes and start the new year on a high, not a bad deal right?

 The Recipe

For his recipe you will need a heat proof container as we will be steaming the cake. No need to go buy one especially for this, any glass containers or baking tins should do the job! This recipe is enough to fill a 15cm (w) x 15cm (l) x 10cm (h) container.

For the shortcrust pastry

  • 800g Turnip or Daikon
  • 3 x Dried Shiitake Mushroom
  • 75ml Warm Water
  • 15ml Soy Sauce
  • 15ml Cooking Rice Wine
  • 5g Sugar
  • 1 x Chinese Sausage
  • 1 x Small Onion
  • 20g Slab Sugar or Brown sugar
  • 25ml Water

Step 1: Soak it!

Soak the dried shiitake mushroom in 100ml of warm water at least 30 minutes before getting started.

Step 2: Chop it!

Dice your mushrooms, sausage and onions into small chunks (see video). The size of these is down to personal preference, so for example if you like more bite then you may want to chop them into chunky pieces. Remember to keep the water used to soak the mushroom for later!

Step 3: Marinate it!

In a separate bowl, mix the chopped mushroom with soy sauce, sugar and rice wine before leaving to marinate.

Step 4: Shred it!

Moving onto the turnip, start by removing the skin as this is too bitter for our cake. Then either by hand or using a food processor, grate the turnip into shreds. Just like our chopped ingredients, how finely you want to grate this depends on how much texture you want in the cake. I personally prefer using a medium grater as this provides just the right amount of texture (see video).

Step 5: Fry it!

Fry off your diced ingredients in a pan with a little bit of oil on a medium-high heat. Remove from pan once caramelised and golden brown. No need to wash the pan as we want to keep all that wonderful flavour for our next step.

Step 6: Cook it!

Dissolve the brown sugar in the pan with the rest of your water. Once completely melted, add in the shredded turnip and cook on a medium low heat until transparent (see video).

Step 7: Mix it!

Whilst the turnip is cooking, make a thick paste by adding the mushroom water from step 1 to the rice flour in a bowl.

Step 8: Stir it!

Once the turnips are transparent, mix in the fried ingredients and thick rice flour paste. Keep on stirring until it is incorporated fully.

Step 9: Steam it!

Transfer the mixture into a heatproof container and steam on a high heat for 40 minutes.

Step 10: Cool it!

The turnip cake is now read to eat at this point! However, to get that crispy finish like the in dim sum restaurants, we are going to wait for it to cool completely. You can even leave it in the fridge overnight if you have time. This will solidify the turnip cake and allow us to cut it into slices about 1 inch in thickness.

Step 11: Fry it!

Finally, in a clean pan fry each slice in a bit of oil for a couple of minutes each side until golden brown. All that is left is to plate and enjoy a delicious slice of turnip cake!


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