Author & Photographer: Rebecca Chen
Known by many names-- daikon cake, Chinese turnip cake, white radish cake-- this classic dish is always on my table at any dim-sum meal. Usually steamed and then pan-fried, daikon cake is made mainly with shredded daikon, water, and rice flour. It’s lightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and filled with mushroom, shrimp, and Chinese sausage. This recipe is highly customizable-- you can adjust the amounts of filling ingredients to your preference, or omit them entirely for a smooth cake with pure daikon flavor. Whatever you decide, don't use more than the higher recommended amounts in the recipe, as the cake will fall apart when cut.
Yields: 4-6 appetizer portions
Active Time: 30 - 45 min
Total Time: 1½ - 2 hr (plus cooling time)
1 large daikon radish (approx. 1.25 - 1.5 lb, 3 cups shredded)
2 cups rice flour*
1-2 Chinese sausage, diced*
2 tbsp - ¼ cup dried, small shrimp*
3-5 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 scallion, chopped
1 small shallot, minced
1¾ cup water
3 tbsp neutral oil
Salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste
¼ cup rice wine (optional)
Soy sauce paste*, for dipping (optional)
Soak dried mushrooms in warm water and dried shrimp in rice wine or water for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are soft.
2. While mushrooms and shrimp soak, peel and shred daikon radish on coarse side of a box grater into a large bowl. Optional: For additional texture, reserve ⅓ daikon and cut into short sticks. Mix in with grated daikon.
3. Remove stems from rehydrated mushrooms and roughly chop, along with shrimp. Reserve ¾ cup of mushroom water for later.
4. Heat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat in wok or other large pan. Cook sausage, shrimp, mushrooms, and shallots for 3 minutes or until fragrant.
5. Stir in scallion, daikon, and ¾ cup mushroom water. Season generously with salt and white pepper. The water level may seem low, but the daikon will release liquid as it cooks. Let simmer for 10 minutes or until daikon is tender.
6. In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup water and 2 cups rice flour. Stir until smooth and no clumps remain.
7. Turn heat off and stir in rice flour mixture over residual heat until thoroughly combined into a paste. Mix in 1 tbsp oil.
8. Transfer mixture to lightly-oiled loaf pan. Transfer to steamer set-up and steam for 50-60 minutes.**
9. Remove pan from steamer and let cool to room temperature for 30 minutes. Cover loaf pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until completely cool and firm.
10. Once cooled, remove from loaf pan and slice into ½ inch thick rectangles. Heat 1 tbsp oil in non-stick pan over medium heat and pan-fry until golden on both sides, about 2-3 minutes. Optional: once golden, pour over 2-3 whisked eggs and cook until no longer runny.
11. Serve immediately with soy sauce paste or oyster sauce. Wrap leftovers completely in plastic wrap and store in fridge for up to 3 days.
* Be sure to use rice flour (frequently found in red bag pictured) and not glutinous rice flour (green bag). Chinese sausage can usually also be found under the name "lap cheong." You can also substitute the sausage with Chinese cured pork belly or even bacon. For shrimp, use small, shelled varieties. These are darker orange, not the thin, light pink shrimp skins that you might also see. Soy sauce paste is a thicker, sweeter, soy sauce, also sometimes labeled as "soy paste."
** Use whatever pan you have on hand that fits with your steamer set-up-- you can use a round or square cake pan as well. There are many creative ways to get around using an actual metal steamer if you don't have one. In the picture here, I've elevated the loaf pan by using the handles and sealed the gap between the lid and pot using wet kitchen towels. For other set-ups see: https://thewoksoflife.com/how-to-steam-food/