Chinese White Radish Cake (Lor Bak Goh / Luo Bo Gao)

There was a period in time where I’d wake up every Saturday morning craving yum cha. Spinach dumplings, pork dumplings, beef rice noodles, pork buns, taro puffs, radish cakes, mango pancakes, that thing with the tofu skin wrapped around it.. you name it. Lucky for me Mr Girl Meets Sugar and I share pretty similar tastes in food so it was never a hard task to convince him to trek it down with me to the closest yum cha restaurant where we’d stuff ourselves silly with dim sum.

The annoying thing about yum cha is you have to go in with a big group to really enjoy the variety of dishes on offer. Each dish usually has 3-4 servings so it makes it impossible for people who want to dine on their lonesome to have the same enjoyable experience. Do people even go to yum cha alone? It occurred to me that there could come a day where I’d be in the mood to go on a dumpling rampage but not be able to get my fix because there’d be no one to go with.. so why not just make these dishes myself?

While researching I stumbled across a dumpling recipe goldmine, that is Andrea Nguyen’s asiandumplingtips.com. My first tried and tested recipe of her’s was for Chinese White Radish Cake and it did not disappoint. The outside of the dumpling is seared to a crisp which contrasts amazingly with the smooth and fluffy textured innards. Slap on some hot chilli sauce and you’re winning. I was so impressed with the end result that I went out and bought her book “Asian Dumplings“. The best thing about this recipe is that it makes a batch big enough to have leftovers ready to be fried off at a later date. These can be stored in the fridge for about a week, or frozen for a couple of months. Sometimes I’m lazy and don’t even bother frying; I just defrost and heat them up and they taste just as good.

Chinese White Radish Cake

Dumplings
2 cups white rice flour, preferably from China or Thailand
1/4 cup wheat starch
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
10 to 12 small or medium dried shrimp, soaked in hot water to cover for 30 minutes (I replaced this with a handful of shitake mushrooms soaked for an hour – I’m not the biggest fan of shrimp)
1/2 kilo daikon radish
2/3 cup Chinese pork sausage (lup cheong), chopped very finely
3 shallots, chopped finely

Cooking and Serving
Neutral oil to coat the cake pans and the skillet
Oyster sauce or hot sauce

Equipment
2-inch-high steamer rack
Two 9-inch round cake pans
Pot large enough to hold both the rack and the cake pan when covered

Method
Make the Batter: Combine the rice flour, wheat starch, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and set aside.  Drain and finely chop the shrimp.

Peel the daikon and grate it through the small holes of your grater onto a kitchen towel.  Bring together the ends of the cloth and twist to squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can into the bowl.  Measure out the collected juices and add enough water to the juice to make 3½ cups.

Pour the daikon liquid into a medium pot.  Add the grated daikon and bring to a boil over high heat.  Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes.  Mix in the sausage, scallions, and chopped shrimp, cover, and cook for 5 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Slowly add the rice flour mixture and whisk continuously until free of most large lumps.  The batter will be thick and sticky and a little lumpy.

Steam the Dumplings:  Place the steamer rack in the pot, add 1½ inches of water to the pot, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Brush both cake pans with a little oil and divide the batter between the 2 pans.  Dip a spoon into cool water and use the back of the spoon to smooth out the surface of the batter.

Carefully place one of the filled pans on the steamer rack, cover, and steam for 40 minutes.  The other filled pan should be covered and left sitting at room temperature while the first one cooks, or it can be cooked simultaneously in another pot.

Remove the pot from the heat.  Carefully lift the pan out of the pot, place it on a folded kitchen towel, and allow the radish cake to cool to room temperature.  Cook the other filled cake pan.

Unmold the radish cake and gently turn it onto a cutting board.  Cut each dumpling into 8 equal slices.

When ready to serve, coat a large skillet with oil and heat over medium heat.  Carefully place the slices of radish cake in the pan and cook until their bottoms are crispy and golden brown, about 4 minutes.  Turn them over to brown the other sides.  Serve with a side of oyster sauce or hot sauce.

Enjoy!

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Minced Pork & Century Egg Congee

Happy new year’s eve to anyone everyone who’s reading! :)

Today I managed to fit in some last minute Christmas shopping.. and yes I know I’m about a week late but I realised I hadn’t bought any gifts yet for my family and I’m seeing them on Monday oops. Anyway, along the way I managed to pick this up for myself from a little stationery store called Typo:

It’s a recipe stand that I scooped up for 5 bucks (reduced from $20 – yay). How cute is it! Anyone who’s seen my soy sauce/cake batter/tomato paste etc splattered recipe folder will know that I’m in terrible need of one of these.

Of course I just had to use it straight away so I trawled the net to find a recipe for something that I’ve wanted to try to cook for a while now – congee! Pronounced con-jee for those of you who aren’t familiar with Chinese cuisine, and it’s essentially a rice soup/gruel type dish that you can flavour with anything really. The creaminess of the rice, velvetyness of the century egg, and warm clouds of steam that emit into your mouth with each delicious spoonful make this the ultimate comfort food.

Minced Pork & Century Egg Congee 

Ingredients
100g minced pork marinated in soya sauce
1/2 cup rice (long-grained) – I know some people use those really small cups to scoop rice but these measurements are for a normal 250ml cup size
1 1/2 litres of water (to initially boil rice)
1 chicken stock cube (or more if you like it salty)
2 slices of ginger
1 century egg
sesame oil, white pepper, soya sauce, fried shallots, chopped spring onions, fried dough fritters (optional but recommended for topping)

Method:
Add rice, water and ginger to a pot and bring to a boil.

When rice has softened (around 15 minutes), lower to a simmer and stir to ensure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

After simmering for around 30 minutes top up with another cup of water.

Add chicken stock cube/s to desired taste (be careful not to add too much as the century egg will add some saltiness into the mix later).

Add in minced pork and stir to break up the meat.

Simmer for 30 minutes more and add water to the desired consistency.

Remove ginger slice, mix in century egg sliced into small wedges or cubes.

Top with soya sauce, sesame oil, pepper, spring onions and/or fried shallots.

Note: keep an eye on the water level as the congee is simmering – you don’t want the water to evaporate too much as the rice will burn. Also, stir frequently to prevent pot stickage.

Enjoy!