Tag Archives: CNY

Chinese Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕


Chinese Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕

Chinese Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕

Chinese Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕

Chinese Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕

I have fond memories of making delicious food with my mum and grandmother around Chinese New Year. When making Turnip cake, Mum always put copious amounts of sausage and mushrooms and I got so used to that ratio, that I would snub other store- bought ones in favour of hers.

This is one of my favourite Chinese New Year celebration dishes. It’s not just for Chinese New Year though – you can have it year round and quite often at yum cha too.

The recipe says to chop and grate the turnip. The reason for this is purely for texture. You can really taste the sweet turnip with the thicker strips and the grated portion contributes to the overall sturdiness of the cake.

As the batter will be really sticky, I highly recommend cooking this in a non stick pan, rice cooker or even the pot of the pressure cooker, which is what I used. The clean up is so much easier!

Highly non-traditional, is the use of a sharp edged tray to cook these in. This is to facilitate equal sized pieces and hasten the preparation of all welcoming dishes before guests arrive. You can make them in many types of pans: round baking pans, rectangular loaf pans and if they are for gifting, make them in foil trays so they can be transported easily.

Wrap any left overs with food wrap and place in a sealed container. It will keep well refrigerated for up to 5 days.


Ingredients:
800g chinese Turnip 白蘿蔔
170g rice flour 粘米粉
30g wheat starch 澄麵
4 Chinese sausages (about 120g), diced
8 Chinese mushrooms 冬菇 (soaked 240g), diced
5 dried scallops 60g, chopped
2 shallots, diced
3/4 cup Chicken stock (I use Gault’s)

Instructions:

  1. Peel the skin off the turnip. Grate half into a bowl, and chop the rest into fine strips (around 0.5cm)
  2. Oil your steaming pans.
  3. Mix the flours in a bowl, set aside.
  4. In a hot pan, fry the diced sausages, mushroom and scallops for a few minutes, until fragrant. Remove from pan and set aside.
  5. Add a tablespoon of oil in the pan and fry the shallots until fragrant. Add turnip and cook for a few minutes, then add chicken stock, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the turnip is soft.
  6. Turn off the heat and add in flours in a quick motion. Stir to create a semi cooked batter. It should be thick and not watery.
  7. Add the cooked sausages, mushroom and scallop, stir to mix well (you can also reserve some of this cooked mixture and layer it on the top).
  8. Pour mixture into your oiled steaming pans and steam on high for 45 to 60 minutes. It’s done when there are no opaque batter when poked with a toothpick.
  9. Cool thoroughly for it to harden.
  10. Slice into 1 to 1.5 cm pieces and pan fry both sides till golden.
  11. Serve with sriracha hot sauce or XO sauce.

Chinese Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕

Chinese New Year cake 新年年糕


Chinese New Year cake

Chinese New Year cake

Chinese New Year cake

Chinese New Year is coming early this year (25 January 2020 instead of the usual February timeframe). With just a week before the first day of the Lunar New Year, I thought I’d better get some of the traditional celebration food items ready.

Now traditionally these steamed cakes are made in round pans, then cut into thin slices before the last bit of pan frying. I thought, since the end game is to have relatively similar sized pieces for ease of cooking, why don’t I use a rectangular loaf pan? That way I can cut pieces of the same size throughout, easily. Unconventional I know, with the use of a sharp-edged loaf pan, as the Chinese uses the round shape for its auspicious meaning of fulfillment, completeness and unity. I made a little round one to satisfy tradition but am not afraid to break from it.

These are sticky when it first comes out of the steamer; allow it to cool for a good few hours in the fridge to firm up. This will make it much easier to cut. It will look opaque when it is cold. Don’t fret: once pan fried, the cake softens, turns slightly transculent and is so moreish and lovely to eat. It’s not overly sweet either, and is the perfect sweet dish to serve any guests who come to wish you well/ “bai nin” 拜年.

I’ve shown the Chinese translation of some of the ingredients below, just in case you need it to find the right kind.

These cakes symbolizes a pay rise or promotion in the coming year. Happy New Year!

Ingredients:

  • 320g Glutinous flour 糯米粉
  • 115g Wheat starch 澄麵粉
  • 400ml water
  • 400g Chinese brown cane sugar (rectangular pieces) 片糖
  • 130ml coconut cream
  • 30g Rice Bran oil
  • Egg, beaten, for frying

Makes 1 large 6 inch cake or
1 small 4 inch and a bread loaf pan

Method:

  1. Sieve flours into a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a deep saucepan, add water and bring to a boil. Add sugar and dissolve. Add coconut cream and rice bran oil. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Add flours in small portions to the sugar syrup, all the while stiring. Ensure mixture is homogenous and lump free. If required, push mixture through a sieve to remove all lumps.
  4. Oil your choice of cake pan(s) and line with baking paper. Pour the cake mixture in and steam over a high heat till fully cooked, 65 to 75 minutes. I place a round steaming rack on the bottom of my wok, add hot water right up to the bottom of the pan and cover it with the lid to steam. Remember to check often and add hot water to the wok from time to time, to maintain the water level – be careful not to let the water run dry. Test with a skewer to ensure the centre isn’t watery.
  5. Remove from the steaming station to cool. Leave in the fridge to harden for a few hours. This will make it easier to slice.
  6. Slice into 1 cm thick pieces. Beat an egg in a bowl and dip each piece of steamed cake in the egg to coat.
  7. Pan fry both sides till golden and the cake has softened.

Chinese New Year cake

Hundred flower chicken – 百花鸡 – Chinese New Year prawn cake


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A hundred young chickens? Or a new species of chicken called ‘hundred flower’ that is being cooked here? Don’t be fooled. I’ll let you in on a secret: There is no chicken in this except the skin and the hero of the dish is prawn actually.
I’m sure if you google this you will find some mythical story behind the birth of this dish, involving some ancient Chinese palace kitchen maid who was forced to create something for the king who has demanded a new dish or else heads will roll. Said maid thought long and hard and came up with such a dish – crispy on the outside and springy on the inside. King loved it and everyone was saved. The End. Anyway they all seem to have similar stories like that.
This isn’t one of those recipes that then passed from the palace kitchen to the general populace, from one generation to another in the family home. At least not to our family home. It was a case of ‘wow that’s an expensive dish! Should we try to make it at home with ingredients on hand?’
My mum went about trying it and it became one of those special dishes we do for special occasions or guests. I’ve simplified it a bit here by removing the crushed cashews – they just burn too easily and I reckon I could save on the calories for dessert instead!

Ingredients:
500g raw prawn cutlets
1 ‘sheet’ of chicken skin from two chicken breasts (tear the skin off a double chicken breast)

Marinade:
2 tsp chicken powder
2 tbsp mirin
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp ground white pepper
1.5 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp cornflour (corn starch)

Drain excess water from prawns and tip them onto a chopping board.
Stand tall, roll your shoulders back and prepare yourself (well your arms at least) for a good workout. Using first 1 knife chop the cutlets small. Best to use a chefy technique where you hold the tip of the knife down with your left hand while moving the blade up and down with your right.

When they have been all chopped, proceed to use two knives to give the prawn meat a good hammering. This is also good for your mind as you channel all your negative energy into moving your arms and mincing the prawns.

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Scrape the flattened prawn meat into a heap and give it another hammering.

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Repeat for a few times until you feel calm and all zen-like. I would suggest 4-5 times is enough. If not, you may benefit from some kick boxing classes!!

Put the prawn meat into a bowl and add the marinade in. Give it a few crazy stirs and when your arms are tired, leave it for 10 minutes.

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Dry the chicken skin and pat a good amount of cornflour on the inside of the skin, covering it all over.

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Using a large soup spoon, smear the prawn meat onto the chicken skin. Smooth it down and even. Now you have a large pattie.

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Heat the pan up and add a tiny teaspoon of oil. When it is hot, place the pattie in, skin side down.

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Pan fry for 1 minute on high and then 2 minutes on medium, till golden. Turn over and fry for another 3 minutes. Watch it to make sure it doesn’t burn.

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Remove from pan and cool on some kitchen paper. (the edges look a bit dark and it is really just the lighting!)

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Slice and plate up.
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Served here with some magic sauce – better known to most children as tomato sauce.
Wish you all a joyful and bountiful year of the Snake! (like what I did with the sauce squiggle?)

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Ps. If I ever have the guts to apply for a spot in Masterchef, this would be my audition dish!!