You Dunzi are a crispy cake made from shredded daikon radish, cilantro, and scallions, then deep-fried.
The fried radish cakes you see here are a typical breakfast or snack in Shanghai. I’ve known them for as long as I can remember because I grew up in and around that city.
However, you dunzi go by several names. The equivalents in Hong Kong and the surrounding areas are zhà yóu c in Mandarin and zaa yau ci in Cantonese, respectively.
Zhà luóbo sī bǐng is the common name for fried shredded radish cake throughout much of China.
How Does it Taste?
You probably are familiar with this snack if you’ve been to Shanghai. It was a novelty even to my family of four (husband and two kids).
The golden daikon and rice flour used to make the crust add the most value. The interior is softer and gooier, with a texture and flavor reminiscent of a Cantonese radish cake (AKA turnip cake, or lo bak go).
Delicious, Crispy, and Salty Delicacy
You may only look at the picture of this recipe to know it exists. However, you must taste these if you ever find yourself in China and come across a mom-and-pop frying them off a tiny stand.
These deep-fried snacks are best saved for special occasions. My arm often has to be twisted before I give in to temptation.
Knowing what they are and where they came from is quite neat.
Batter (To Prevent Running Short, Make Just a Bit More Than 8 Servings):
- 1 cup of all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup of rice flour
- 1 tsp. of baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. of sea salt
- 1 tsp. of sugar
- 1/2 tsp. of white pepper
- 1/2 tsp. of five-spice powder
- 1 1/4 cups of water
Filling (Divide into 8 portions):
- 18 oz. of daikon radish(shredded)
- 1/2 cup of cilantro
- 1/4 cup of finely chopped scallions
- vegetable oil for frying (can also use peanut or canola oil)
- Make the batter using the rice flour first. Throw the all-purpose flour, rice flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, white pepper, and five-spice powder in a big basin. Slowly pour the water in a while, continuing to whisk the ingredients until it forms a thin batter. Put an upside-down plate on top of the batter and let it sit while you prepare the other stuff.
- You can grate the daikon radish for the filling using a box grater or the grating attachment of a food processor. Squeeze the daikon in your palms to extract as much moisture as possible.
- The scallions and cilantro should be washed and dried well before use. The scallions should be finely chopped, while the cilantro should be coarsely chopped. Combine with the daikon and stir until combined. The batter and the filling are now ready to be fried. There should be no temptation to combine them.
- Prepare 350 degrees Fahrenheit oil in a medium-deep pot. There should be enough oil to cover the food by three inches. Keep your ladle or metal containers in the oil as it heats up. This prepares the pans for frying and keeps you dunzi from sticking.
- When the oil reaches the proper temperature, you can remove the oil from the ladle (or carefully lift the tins out of the oil using tongs).
- A small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the ladle or tin, should be added immediately. Daikon radish filling should be added to the top, with the edges neatly tucked in. Spread another thin layer of batter equally on top.
- Put the ladle or can gently into the oil. Allow you dunzi to fry for 2 minutes to harden. Ladle it out without much difficulty. Fry it for 3–4 minutes after flipping it to ensure even browning. You can get the next one ready while this one is cooking.
- Cooked you dunzi should be cooled on a wire rack. Carry on until no more batter or filling can be utilized. There may be some extra, but that’s so you can make at least 8 decent-sized radish cakes.
- Serve immediately but be careful; they’re piping hot inside. These are at their best when served fresh. Still, they will also reheat nicely and retain their crispiness if prepared in a conventional oven or toaster oven.