How to make Taiwanese turnip cake, a popular dim sum dessert filled with umami

Tsai Tao Kui (Taiwanese turnip cake)

active time:45 minutes

total time:2 hours, plus at least 4 hours of cooling time

stakes:5 to 6

active time:45 minutes

total time:2 hours, plus at least 4 hours of cooling time

stakes:5 to 6


This daikon cake is traditionally referred to as a turnip cake in Chinese and Taiwanese homes, on restaurant menus and in cookbooks. It is often eaten during the New Year because the Taiwanese word for “turnip” 菜 (chai tu) is very similar to the word for “good luck” 彩 (chai tu), says Irvin Lin, food blogger and cookbook author.

In Taiwan, Lunar New Year is called 農曆 (nong li xin nian) and is celebrated for two weeks, ending with the Lantern Festival. These crunchy little cakes are a popular dim sum dessert, and are often fried to order at the table. The Cantonese-style version of dim sum is usually made with Chinese sausage, while the Taiwanese version that Lin grew up eating dried shrimp, shiitake mushrooms and sauteed leeks for a delicious umami-packed bun.

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Although the dish is not complicated, it does require time to allow the dried shrimp and shiitakes to rehydrate, as well as for the steamed bun to cool and cool, so consider making it a day in advance, refrigerating overnight, and frying just before serving.

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moving forward: The rice cake should be steamed and refrigerated for at least 4 hours before frying and serving. May be wrapped in plastic or transferred to an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Sliced ​​and uncooked cakes can be frozen. Place in an airtight container, with parchment or wax paper between layers, and freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before frying and serving.

storage: Refrigerate remaining fried buns in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Heat in a frying pan with a little oil.

Where do I buy: Dried shrimp and dried shiitakes can be found in Asian markets or online; Daikon radish can be found in well-stocked supermarkets or in Asian markets. Rice flour (not sticky), such as the Erawan brand, can be found in Asian markets or online. It is best not to use stone-ground flour in this recipe.

  • 5 medium dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) dried small or medium shrimp
  • 2 pounds daikon radish, peeled and coarsely grated (about 6 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or other neutral oil, divided, plus more as needed
  • 3/4 cup chopped shallots (2 to 3)
  • 1 green onion, sliced ​​white and light green, separated from the dark green
  • 1 3/4 cups (8 ounces) rice flour (not glutinous), plus more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • coriander leaves for serving (optional)
  • Soy sauce for serving (optional)
  • Sesame oil for serving (optional)
  • Chili or Sriracha sauce, for serving (optional)

Place the shiitakes and shrimp in separate heatproof bowls. Pour enough boiling water into each bowl to submerge its contents. Cover and leave for 30 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, lift the mushrooms out of the water: If the shiitakes are not completely moistened, return to the water and check within 10 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a cutting board and chop off the stems and discard them. Cut the caps into 1/4 inch pieces. Once the shrimp is dry, drain and chop coarsely.

In a large saucepan over high heat, combine daikon with ½ cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently to ensure the radishes at the bottom of the pot do not burn, until most of the moisture has evaporated, for 15 to 20 minutes. A little moisture at the bottom is fine. Take off the fire.

In a large, clean skillet or skillet over medium heat, combine 2 tablespoons of the oil, mushrooms, shrimp, shallots, and the white and light green parts of the green onion. Cook, stirring constantly, until shallots soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer it to the bowl with the cooked radish.

In a medium bowl and using a silicone spatula, mix the rice flour and cornstarch with the remaining 1 cup of the water, stirring until a thick, smooth slurry forms. Scrape the liquid into the saucepan with the radish, mushroom and shrimp mixture and season with salt and pepper.

Stir the ingredients together until well combined, and return the saucepan to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until ingredients form a hard lump that becomes increasingly difficult to stir, scraping sides and bottom of saucepan while stirring, about 5 minutes. Take off the fire.

Line a 9- or 10-inch bamboo steamer basket with two to three layers of cheesecloth (if you don’t have a bamboo steamer, see note). Scrape the dough and pour it into the lined steamer, pressing down with a silicone spatula to smooth the top surface into an even layer.

Place a skillet, wide enough in diameter to accommodate the pot of steam, over medium heat, and fill it just enough to reach the bottom edge of the steam, and simmer, reducing heat as needed.

Place the steaming basket in the wok or skillet, cover with a lid and steam over the simmering water until a chopstick or skewer in the middle of the daikon comes out mostly clean, 45 minutes to 1 hour – more steam will produce the thinnest bun, which will steam faster.

Check the skillet or wok every 15 minutes to make sure there is enough water for steaming, refill it and adjust the heat as necessary.

After the cake has steamed, set the covered steamer basket aside on a plate and let cool completely. Then put it in the fridge for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.

When you’re ready to fry, remove the cake from the steamed bamboo pan and remove the muslin. Cut the cake into 10 to 12 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Some pieces may have rounded edges.

In a small skillet over medium heat, heat remaining tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Fry the chops until golden brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side, adding more oil to the skillet as necessary. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with green onion greens and/or cilantro leaves and serve hot, with a sauce made from a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil and/or chili sauce or sriracha on the side.

note: You can also put the cake mixture in an oiled loaf pan and steam the loaf pan on a wire rack inside a frying pan or skillet. Steaming a thicker cake will take longer, so add 10 minutes or so to the steaming time and check for doneness with a chopstick or skewer.

Per serving (2 cakes) based on 6

Calories: 270 Total Fat: 8g; saturated fat: 1 g; cholesterol: 30 mg; Sodium: 590 mg; carbohydrates: 44 g; Dietary fiber: 5 g; sugar: 6 g; Protein: 8 grams

This analysis is an estimate based on the ingredients available and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietician or dietician.

From food blogger and cookbook author Irvine Lane.

Tested by Kara Elder; Email questions to [email protected].

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More recipes for the upcoming Lunar New Year

Ngo hyang (five spice pork and shrimp roll)

Tang Juk (Beef and Radish Soup)

Keo Me Xung Dau Phong Gung (Sesame, Ginger, Peanut Candy)

Ko Nastar (Indonesian pineapple pancakes)

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