Sunday, January 6, 2008

Chinese New Year Series - Hong Kong Style Radish Cake

It is really not that popular for the Malaysian Chinese to have radish cake for Chinese New Year (CNY). I know it is almost a practice to have it during the CNY in Hong Kong though. The main difference between the radish cakes in Hong Kong and Malaysia is that, the chopped ingredients like chinese sausages, mushrooms, dried shrimps and shallots are mixed into the batter before steaming while the Malaysians prefer to first steam a plain radish cake and then the chopped ingredients are sprinkled on to the cooked radish cake before serving with some tim jiong, literally means 'sweet sauce' to the Malaysians or more commonly known as hoisin sauce. These are more like a garnishing although they are actually the heart of the radish cake. During the normally days, you can easily find almost everywhere at the hawker stalls plain steamed radish cakes cut into cubed and fried with preserved radish and eggs.

Hong Kong Style Radish Cake
Makes one 7 inch square

1 radish (approx. 500g)
2 cups water
2 nos. chinese sausages, skinned then diced
4 nos. chinese mushrooms, soaked till soft then diced
20g dried shrimps, soaked till soft then roughly chopped
2 nos. shallots, sliced
3-4 tbsp oil, for frying
Extra oil for greasing
150g rice flour
30g wheat starch (tung min flour)

1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp chicken granules (optional)
Few drops of sesame oil
Dash of pepper

Hoisin sauce to serve


Refer to step-by-step photographs here

  1. Skin and cut radish with a knife to long thin strips. Place radish with 2 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until radish is soft. Let cool.
  2. Clean and grease 7 inch square pan with oil.
  3. Clean and soak oth dried shrimps and dried mushrooms until soften. Chop dried shrimps slightly. Cut mushrooms into small cubes.
  4. Soak chinese sausages in water to ease the removal of casing. Cut sausages into small cubes.
  5. Heat oil in a pan/wok. Fry shallots until fragrant. Add in chinese sausages, mushrooms and dried shrimps and continue to fry until fragrant. Season with the seasoning ingredients. Set aside to let cool a little.
  6. Drain cooked radish well. Save and obtain approx. 200ml of the juice from the boiling of radish. Pour away the excess or top up with water if not sufficient.
  7. Combine rice flour and wheat starch in a large mixing bowl. Pour radish juice and mix with a hand whisk to obtain smooth batter. Add cooked radish and the rest of the fried ingredients into the batter. Mix well. Pour mixture into the greased pan.
  8. Steam over rapid boiling water for 1 hour or until chopstick inserted into radish cake comes out clean.
  9. Remove from steamer and let cool completely before slicing. Reheat in steamer or microwave. Serve with hoisin sauce (tim jiong). Alternatively, pan fry with some oil until golden brown.

  1. The portion of water to radish is important in determining the texture of the final product. I always give flexibility to my students when I teach so I will do the same here. The above suggested amount of the water serves as a guide for a texture that I think is good. Try it out and adjust to your family's preference. At the end of the day, your family members will be the ones who are going to appreciate your goodies :)
  2. Add cooked radish to form a batter while it is still hot so that a thick nice paste is formed before steaming.
  3. To save time, it is actually a more common practice to shred the radish with a shredder. Cutting, instead of shredding, the radish does improve the texture of the radish cake. Again, cutting is an alternative way from me for your consideration.

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