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Turnip cake recipe- How to make as good as dim sum store

Turnip cake (lo bak gou / 蘿蔔糕) brings me back the fond memory of my childhood seeping a pot of bottomless Pu’er tea with my father in the dim sum house every Sunday morning.

Besides the barbecue pork bun, shrimp dumpling, and Shumai, pan-fried turnip cake is the dim sum I always order whenever the lady trundled her cart beside my table with towers of bamboo steamers full of dim sum.

The turnip cake is crispy outside and yet tender, almost melting in the mouth inside. This umani-rich dim sum has been etched in my mind and whenever I think about it, my belly rumbles.

These days I don’t go for my breakfast yum cha session anymore. I make it at home and add some extra ingredients to make it even more delectable.

Turnip cake (lo bak gou / 蘿蔔糕) is the famous Chinese dim sum served in the restaurant. Find out how to make it as good as dim sum store by following this recipe.

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How to Make Chinese Turnip Cakes (蘿蔔糕) | Dim Sum Style (Chinese lo bak go)

This savory turnip cake (also called Chinese radish cake, lo bak go) is a traditional dish served at dim sum restaurant along with other delicacies like shumai and barbecue pork bun.

How to make radish cake (turnip cake)? Easy! I have divided this cake recipe into a few steps. Each step can be done separately and even at a different time.

  1. Stir-fry the dry seafood, sausage and mushrooms
  2. Cook the turnip
  3. Constitute the flour mix
  4. Steam the turnip cake
  5. Pan-fried the turnip cake (optional)

Let’s look at each step one by one.

Turnip cake or radish cake?

The English translation of the Chinese words lo bak go / 萝卜糕 is confusing. In reality, it is prepared with radish which is shredded in this dish. However, since some Chinese describe both turnip and radish as “lo bak / 萝卜”, it becomes a tradition to called it turnip cake. It is also called Chinese carrot cake in Singapore since carrot is also called ‘lo bak’ in Chinese! Therefore, I use both terms in this recipe interchangeably.

Step 1- Stir-fry the dry seafood, sausage and mushrooms

First let me clarify that this Chinese turnip cake recipe is savory, not a sweet dessert! The main ingredients apart from the turnip are Chinese sausage, dry shiitake mushrooms, dry scallops, and dry shrimps.

Dried scallops (Conpoy or 乾貝, 江瑶柱)

You can certainly make changes to this list of ingredients. Most of the Chinese turnip cake recipes of the dim sum house do not include dry scallops due to its high cost. You have the luxury to add some to the turnip cake and transform an ordinary dessert to a drool-worthy and additive delicacy.

The dried scallop is a favorite item in many Chinese gourmet cuisines, notably soup stock, shark fins soup, congee, stew and XO sauce. It has a dominant savory taste, as opposed to the fresh scallops. A small amount of dry scallop goes a long way.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Soak it in water for at least half a day.
  • Do not discard the water after soaking. Use this water to cook the turnip can enhance the flavor. Shred the hydrated dried scallops into small threads.

Dried mushrooms 冬菇

  • Soak the dried mushrooms for half a day or overnight until they are adequately hydrated. The larger mushrooms take a longer time to get hydrated and soft. Remove the stems and cut the mushrooms into small cubes.
  • The water is full of flavor after soaking the mushrooms. Use it as stock to constitute the flour batter and to cook the turnip.

Dried shrimps 蝦米

  • Soak the dry shrimps for an hour. Discard the water and clean the dried shrimps thoroughly to remove any sand and shell.
  • Chop the dry shrimps coarsely into small pieces.

Chinese sausage (lap cheong 臘腸)

  • Soak the Chinese sausage in hot water for ten minutes. The casing of the sausage will puff up which can be removed from the sausage easily.
  • Cut the Chinese sausage into small dices.

Stir-fry the ingredients

  • Pan-fry the Chinese sausage until fragrant. The oil from the sausage will render and turns aromatic.
  • Add the dried scallops and dried shrimps to the pan. Stir-fry over low heat until fragrant. You can add more cooking oil if necessary at this stage.
  • Add the mushrooms. Combined and set aside.

Step 2- Cut and cook the turnip

Choose the turnips that feel heavy when you hold, as they contain more water and is fresher.

Peel off the skin, and divide it into two equal portions. Cut half into fine julienne, and shred the other half with a box grater.

The Chinese turnip is slightly bitter and pungent. Some people like it very much but may not appeal to everyone. You can shred all the turnip instead of cutting half into julienne, and squeezing out the water of the turnip to reduce the pungent flavor.

Chinese white radish (turnip)
To clear the doubt (turnip or radish), this is the ingredient for this radish cake recipe!

I prefer to shred half and cut the other half into small strips which will give the Chinese turnip cake some texture and a slightly crunchy mouthfeel.

  • Put the turnip (shredded and strips) into the pan.
  • Add a small amount of the mushroom water and cook over low heat until the turnip turns slightly off white and translucent, which takes about ten minutes of simmering. Stir occasionally to avoid browning and sticking to the pan.
  • Cook until all the water is evaporated. Otherwise, there will be too much water in the cake, which will make it soggy.
  • Add the stir-fried seafood, mushroom, and sausage and combine with the turnip.

Note: This recipe is called turnip cake since this is how recipes are translated. The turnip is actually the Chinese white radish 白萝卜(daikon radish in Japanese). (Refer to the image above).

Step 3- Constitute the flour mix

Rice flour is the main ingredient in the recipe to hold the turnip cake in shape. Most of the Chinese radish cake recipe also includes a small amount of wheat starch to ensure all the components will stick together. You may use corn starch to replace wheat starch to get the same result.

The ratio of rice flour: starch in this recipe is 5:1, which work pretty well.

Combine the flour and starch in a large mixing bowl. Add the seasoning (salt, sugar, ground white pepper, and sesame oil). Pour the mushroom water to the flour mix and stir well to avoid forming lumps. It should eventually become a smooth batter.

The right amount of water

The water content is critical to the success of the turnip cake. It will become soggy and unable to form if there is too much water, or too hard if it is insufficient.

My magical ratio of the turnip : water : rice flour is 100:40:20. You can follow this ratio or reduce some water should you prefer a firmer texture.

Turnip cake (lo bak gou / 蘿蔔糕) is the famous Chinese dim sum served in the restaurant. Find out how to make it as good as dim sum store by following this recipe.
My pan-fried turnip cake recipe

Step 4- Steam the turnip cake

Once you have the flour batter ready, add it to the turnip and combine well.

  • Let the turnip mix cools down before adding the flour batter because the starch will get cook and turn sticky if it is too hot. It will not affect the result but is messy to transfer the batter to the steaming container.
  • Brush the surface of the container with some oil.
  • Spoon the turnip mix into the container and level the top.
  • Cover with aluminum foil (or cling wrap) to avoid any water from dripping onto the surface during steaming.
  • Steam the turnip mixture over medium heat for fifty minutes.
  • Remove the aluminum foil and insert a wooden skewer to the center of the cake. It is cooked if the skewer comes out clean.
  • Let it cool down and keep it in the refrigerator for a few hours to let it firm up.

Step 5- Pan-fry the turnip cake

  • Remove the turnip cake from the refrigerator. Run a knife along the sides of the container and remove it with a spatula or knife.
  • Cut it into slices or any shape that you like. You can serve by heating it over the steamer again or with microwave oven, but it tastes lovely if you pan-fry the turnip cake slightly before serving.
  • After pan-frying both sides until it changes color, arrange on the plate and sprinkle some chopped scallion and fried shallot as the topping. Serve.

Note: If you find that the turnip cake is too soft, keep it in the freezer until it is firm enough before slicing it.

Storage

  • Portion the turnip cake and keep in separate containers
  • It freezes well up to a few weeks. Defrost at room temperature until it is soft enough before cutting into slices. Pan-fry and serve.

Related recipe- Chinese Taro Cake

If you like this recipe, you may also like the Chinese Taro Cake, which is also a savory dessert. is a popular Chinese dessert for breakfast that you can find in the Dim Sum shops along with shrimp dumplings, Char Siu Pao, Shumai, and others.

The Chinese radish and carrot soup is also one of the common homecooked vegetable soup among the Cantonese. Check this out if you Chinese soup.

The Turnip Cake recipe

Yield: 20 pieces

Turnip cake - How to make as good as dim sum store

Turnip cake (lo bak gou / 蘿蔔糕) is the famous Chinese dim sum served in restaurant. Find out how to make it as good as dim sum store by following this recipe.

This savory turnip cake (also called radish cake, lo bak go ,萝卜糕) is a traditional dish served at dim sum restaurant along with other delicacies like shumai and barbecue pork bun.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

Main ingredients (A)

Flour mix: (B)

Instructions

Prepare the ingredients:

  1. Soak the dried scallop, dried mushroom, and dry shrimps until adequately hydrated.
  2. Shred the hydrated dried scallops into small threads. Remove the stem and cut the mushrooms into small cubes. Chop the dry shrimps coarsely into small pieces.
  3. Soak the sausage in hot water for ten minutes. Remove the casing. Dice the Chinese sausage into small dices.
  4. Pan-fry the Chinese sausage in a pan until fragrant. Add the dried scallops, dried shrimps and mushrooms. Combined and set aside.

Cook the turnip:

  1. Shred half of the turnip with the grater and cut the other half into small strips.
  2. Add a small amount of the mushroom water and cook over low heat in a pan until the turnip turns slightly off white and translucent.
  3. Add the stir-fried seafood, mushroom, and sausage and combine with the turnip.
  4. Mix all the ingredients in (B) to form a batter, add it to the turnip and combine well.  

Steaming:

  1. Brush some oil on the surface of the container. 
  2. Spoon the turnip mix into the container and level the top.
  3. Cover with aluminum foil.
  4. Steam the turnip mixture over medium heat for fifty minutes.
  5. Let it cool down and keep in the refrigerator for a few hours to let it firm up.

Pan-frying

  1. Cut it into slices or any shape that you like.
  2. Pan-frying both sides until it changes color, arrange on the plate and sprinkle some chopped scallion and fried shallot as the topping. Serve.

Notes

If you encounter any audio / visual problem of viewing this video, you can view it from YouTube by clicking this link, which will open in a new tab.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

3

Serving Size:

20 pieces

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 316Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 1373mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 5gSugar: 17gProtein: 11g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 3/8/2019

Mel

Sunday 4th of July 2021

Hello! Thanks for sharing! I love this recipe but my mum would like to have a smoother restaurant style. How would I go about changing the ratio to make it smoother? Should I increase the wheat starch to rice flour ratio (use more wheat starch and a bit less flour)? Or just reduce amount of turnip?

Thanks!

Mel

Thursday 8th of July 2021

@KP Kwan, Hi Kwan, thanks for replying! I tried making again with reduced 10% radish and increased 10% water, and the texture was quite nice and soft! My mum complains that it’s sticky though (although I find it alright).

Got any way to reduce the stickiness? Does it have to do with the wheat starch? Thanks!

KP Kwan

Monday 5th of July 2021

I would try to increase water by 10% and reduce the turnip by 10%. Never try that, but that is my best guess :)

jessie

Sunday 13th of June 2021

can you use the same recipe for the pumpkin cake.pl. let me know

KP Kwan

Monday 14th of June 2021

Sorry, I have never tried that, and I am eager to know too!

Anne

Friday 26th of March 2021

Hi KP Kwan,

Thank you for sharing. I've tried several times the recipe, I succedeed each time ;-)

Annie

Thursday 18th of February 2021

Hi may I confirm the amount of sugar is 30 gram ? Not too much?

Thanks

KP Kwan

Friday 19th of February 2021

It is not too much for me, but you can reduce the amount base on your preference.

Ted

Monday 8th of February 2021

I’m very excited to try this but I’m not sure how to steam this exactly. I could use loaf pans as containers but how would I steam those? Is there a certain kind of steamer that I need for this?

KP Kwan

Tuesday 9th of February 2021

The embedded video on this page does show how to steam it exactly. Please look at it starting at 5.00 minutes for steaming. Thanks.

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