I often wondered what Chinese New Year is like for visitors in Hong Kong. This festival is a time for families to reunite, not only to welcome in the new lunar year, but also to feast together with home-prepared meals. Meanwhile, as the expat population flies to places like Bali or Thailand for the extended national holiday, the trains to the rural New Territories would be overflowing, while the bar-filled Lan Kwai would be partly deserted.
To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of my absence from Hong Kong during this festivities-filled celebration, I subconsciously trickle passed the fellow patrons of a local Chinese grocer, fluidly gathered all the necessary ingredients, for the making of my favourite Chinese Daikon Cake (蘿蔔糕).
Chinese Daikon Cake or Lo Pak Gao, is my all time favorite, you can find this all year round in Dim Sum restaurants. Yet, this speciality dish, similar to the Chinese New Year cake, is one that almost no commercial versions would be in competition with ones made at home, filled with joy, love, and hours of grating, chopping, steaming, and enduring the stinging sensation as the daikon juice attacks the skin surrounds your fingers....thanks dear Granny, Mum and Dad for all the decadent daikon cakes I have devoured in the past!
~ Chinese Daikon Cake ~
- 6 lb Chinese daikon - about 3 large ones
- 500 g plain rice flour (粘米粉) - not glutinous rice flour
- 4 long links Chinese sausages (臘腸) - cut into 1/4 inch cubes
- 200g Chinese cured bacon ((臘肉) - cut into 1/4 inch cubes
- 4 dried scallops, 3 tbs dried shrimps, 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
(place all 3 above ingredients in a bowl and soak overnight with cold water just
enough to cover all the ingredients)
- 2 tbs chicken bouillon powder
- 2 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp five spiced powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 tsp sugar
- a bunch of coriander - coarsely chopped
1. Squeeze out the soaking liquid from the hydrated dried scallops, dried mushrooms and shrimps, and finely chop these ingredients. Reserve soaking liquid.
2. Coarsely grate the Chinese daikon and place the grated daikon in a strainer over a large bowl. Squeeze out as much of the liquid from the daikon, but reserve the liquid.
3. Heat up a wok or a large frying pan over medium high heat, add in the Chinese sausages and cured bacon, stir-fry for a 5-8 minutes or until most of the oil has rendered out from the cured meats.
4. Gradually add the finely chopped mushrooms, scallops and shrimps. Keep stir frying them for about 5 minutes.
5. Stir in all the seasonings and allow them to warm in the mixture for a minute before adding the grated daikon. Stir-fry all the ingredients for about 2 minutes and remove from heat
6. In a large baking pan (ideal size would be a 16 inches in diameter and 4 inches deep, or 2 9-inch cake pan would also be fine), pour in the rice flour and gradually stir in the reserved daikon juice and soaking liquid. Mix until smooth.
7. Stir in the solid ingredients from the wok and mix thoroughly.
8. Steam the cake in a large wok with consistent yet vigourous steam for an hour and a half.
9. When it is cooked, remove from heat and sprinkle the chopped coriander on top as garnish.
10. The cake can be served immediately as the steamed version,
11. For the pan-fried version, allow the cake to cool and refrigerate overnight. Cut the cake into slices and pan-fry until golden brown and crispy on each side. Serve with XO sauce or chili sauce if preferred.
12. It can also be transformed into the famed dish in HK XO sauce stir-fried daikon cake (XO 醬炒蘿蔔糕). Cut a portion of the cake in small cubes and stir fry with finely chopped garlic, bean sprouts, sliced red and green bell peppers, eggs, and XO sauce.