Turnip Cake

February 14, 2023

This lo bak go, a savory turnip cake (also called radish), is a traditional meal typically offered at dim sum places; I remember eating it every Chinese New Year when I was a youngster. For this reason, I will always remember this custom fondly as one that is both delicious and meaningful.

After trying many different restaurants’ takes on turnip cake (or lo bak go, as it’s known in Cantonese), I’ve concluded that none of them come close to our family’s secret recipe. The eateries could be more generous with the dish’s centerpiece ingredient, the Chinese turnip. Rice flour and starch make up the bulk of the ingredients.

But I will admit that the restaurant versions are significantly smoother, almost like pudding, because they use fewer filling ingredients. The Chinese turnip is another highly acrid vegetable that is either loved or hated. Everyone in the house will be aware of your Chinese turnip cooking endeavors, for better or worse.

The lo bak, or Chinese turnip, is a long white vegetable with a green tip. Until recently, I didn’t realize that they were synonymous with Japanese daikon radishes, but now I think they are. Make sure the turnips or radishes you pick are substantial. Due to their high water content, it can be deduced that they last sat around for a while. The one called for in this recipe should be at least 20 ounces in size.


  • 20 ounces of grated daikon radish
  • 3-5 washed, soaked and chopped dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 Chinese sausage (diced)
  • 1 scallion (chopped)
  • 1-1 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 1/4 cups of rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon of washed, soaked and chopped dried shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of sugar
  • white pepper (to taste)
  • vegetable oil
  • Oyster sauce (for dipping)


  1. Put 1 cup of water and the grated turnip in a wok or a big pan and heat to a simmer. Keep the turnip from browning by turning it occasionally while it simmers for about 10 minutes. Since the turnip will secrete liquid, some of it will be lost through evaporation. The liquid that accumulates in the wok while cooking the radish can also be put to good use. Take the turnip out of the oven and place it in a big bowl. Transfer whatever liquid is left in the wok to a liquid measuring cup and add water to make 1 cup. Throw it in the basin with the cooked turnip.
  2. Put some clean water in your wok or pan and heat it up on the stove. Get out a couple of tablespoons of oil and throw that in. After about 3 minutes, add the sausage and cook until it is no longer pink. Combine the chopped scallion with the dish when it has been taken off the stove, and set aside to cool.
  3. Mix the radish and the cooking liquid in a mixing bowl, then add the rice flour, cornstarch, salt, sugar, and white pepper. Thoroughly incorporate the dry ingredients by mixing them in. Scrape the pan’s oil and add it with the cooked shrimp, mushrooms, and sausage. An additional 1/4 cup of boiling water, or more, can be added to the batter if you prefer a softer radish cake. If the batter seems too watery, you can return it to the pan and cook it over low heat while stirring to thicken it. Combine, then set aside for 15 minutes to sit.
  4. Do one last toss, then transfer the batter to a loaf pan that has been greased. Saturate the pan with water in a steamer and cook it for 50 minutes over medium heat.
  5. After half an hour, remove the pan from the steamer and cool the cake completely. When it’s cold, flip it over onto a cutting board by loosening the edges with a spatula. It ought to be simple to remove.
  6. The half-inch thick slices can be easily cut with a sharp knife and a small amount of water. Some people would eat it raw, but the turnip cake tastes best when pan-fried first. Over medium heat, add a couple of teaspoons of oil to a cast-iron or nonstick frying pan. Toast the cakes in a hot pan until brown on both sides. Add some oyster sauce, and eat up!
  7. Note that this turnip cake can be prepared in advance, stored in the loaf pan in the refrigerator, and sliced and fried later. Turnip cakes, after fried, are best reheated by giving them a second fry in a skillet before being served again.
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