random musings

April 27, 2012

Turnip cake from CNY

Turnip cake is a savory cake made from the daikon radish, rice flour, chinese sausage, dried shitake mushrooms and dried shrimp. The past two years, I've omitted the dried shrimp, b/c T is allergic. I'm not going to kid, this omission makes it taste different - less salty and briny. On the plus side, it does reduce the aromatics enough for leftovers to be work-friendly :-)  Anyways, if you like dried shrimp, treat them like I do the dried mushrooms.

A new technique I learned this year is to finely julianne the daikon instead of shredding it. It was a lot faster that using the box grater, and I had one less item to clean! The claim is that not shredding adds to texture, but I did not observe that characteristic. Maybe this could be achieved with different cut?

Either way, this recipe is gluten free, and with the omission of sausage/shrimp can be vegan. And although it's not a CNY food, it is something that I only make for celebrations. This dish can be ordered any place that serves dim sum.


daikon, 1.25-2 lbs
2 c rice flour (not glutinous)
2-3 dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrated and minced
2 green onions, minced (I use 1/8 of a white onion)
1 link chinese sausage, minced
salt and pepper to taste


1. Prep your ingredients. I find it is best to rehydrate mushrooms in boiling water for about 30 minutes.
2. Fry the sausage, and add the mushrooms and onion (shrimp if using), once the sausage oils emerge. When these bits are cooked but not yet crispy, set aside.

3. In the same pan add julianned daikon. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. If you are like me and omitting shrimp, up the salt a smidge to compensate. Cook over medium heat until daikon is completely cooked. The texture should be almost mushy. If it feels ready for stir-fry, it needs to cook longer.
4. In a medium bowl, mix the daikon, reserved sausage mixture and rice flour. Add water to achieve the right consistency. This will depend on the water content of your daikon and personal preference, as less water == firmer cake. I used ~3/4 of a cup.

(left) rice flour only (right) rice flour + water

5. Transfer to a greased 9" pie dish and steam for 40-60 minutes.

6. Cut into wedges and enjoy dipped in soy sauce!


  1. I never had anything even close to this. This seems beyond interesting to make. I often look at the daikon in the store, but have no idea what to make with it, so I never buy it. Well, next time I might just have to try this...

    1. daikon tastes like a very mild radish; I often save the leftover bits when making this for use in stir fry. nom nom :-) Thanks for stopping by!