Chinese Radish Cake is a Teochew cuisine mostly consumed by the Chinese all around the world such as Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Taiwan and Singapore. It is often eaten during Chinese Yumcha (tea time) and served with a sweet oyster sauce or sriracha for dipping.
If you cut the Chinese radish cake in to bite size cubes and stir fry them with other ingredients (bean shoots' a must), they become a street food in Malaysia!
Night street market (Pasar Malam) was one of my favourite Friday routine with my caretaker when I was a kid. In Kuala Lumpur, where I grew up, Night Street Market operates once a week in selected neighbourhood and very often you will find the same vendors at different postcodes at different nights of the week. The home my brother and I grew up in happens to be a Friday. Some markets runs during the weeknights as well and the market is always located at the most populated postcodes. When you have friends that live all over, it is very common to find out about the days that the night market will happen at your friends neighbourhood and it is normal that people travel far just for the local street delicacies and also a reason to go for a drive, something Malaysian love doing a lot.
Night market usually operates from 7 pm and there is little point in going there on time, nonetheless early because you will never get the chance to experience the market with fully stocked vendors. In the market, it is not just local food that you get, as a kid, there were toy stalls, children clothing, and back then for me it was pirated movie and music CDs before it was banned and taken over by technologies. Perhaps you can already guess how old I am.
My favourite time to visit the night market is when they are about to finish setting up. As a local, I don't really go to the night market to ponder about the culture and absorb the atmosphere, I knew exactly what I am there for. Malaysian love getting not one but a variety of street food and lay them out on the table to share with their family and friends. As a more introverted family like a lot of family, we love to pick numerous street food and "Da Bao" (Takeaway) so we can enjoy it over our television table at the comfort of our own home and enjoy the Friday night X-Files on television. Seriously, there is nothing in enjoying food that can surpass the way night market food does for me as a kid.
Regrettably not often enough, I miss food from home. Buying take away and whipping up a quick stir fry was my usual dinner routine. There was seriously no time to even think about exploring in the adventure of making something from scratch, let alone testing a recipe. Perhaps the pandemic serve this purpose for me. Sounds crazy considering I am a pastry chef but never really get the time to explore cooking the delicacies from my root. So, here I am!
The below recipe can be made as two different type of dishes, the dim sum part as well as the street food. My mother handed me this recipe over the phone, although it was more like "a bit of this, then add a bit of that, stir and add more of this if.......".
At first, I was a little sceptical with how I am going to find all the ingredients and make them taste like home but I managed! Although, I have to say you will never get it to the point with how it taste from when you get it at the local street market because I honestly think it is the old wok that gives it that extra "OMG". Regardless, I think this is on par with what I expected the dish to taste like.
For best result, it is advised that you steam the radish cake the day before and let it rest over night in order for the cake to firm up a little for easier handling.
Serves 4 people
White Radish 150 (1 small Radish)
Water (1) 250 g
Rice Flour 75 g
Corn Flour 25 g
Water (2) 100 g
Salt 1/2 teaspoon
1. Start by bringing water (1) to a boil. Shred the radish and add in to the water and leave to boil for roughly around 20 minutes or until the radish are slightly soft and translucent.
Meanwhile, line a round or square baking tin with a parchment paper at the bottom. Make sure the tin is small enough to fit into your pot for steaming.
2. Strain the radish and safe 500 g of the radish water, discarding the excess. If you do not have enough, simply add in additional water.
3. In a clean bowl, mix the rice flour, corn flour, water(2) and salt and stir with a fork until it forms in to a smooth white mass.
4. Add in the hot radish water and stir to mix.
5. In a deep non stick frying pan over low heat, transfer the batter on to the pan while constantly stirring until it slightly thickens.
6. Add in the shredded radish and keep stirring until the entire mix are thick and gooey.
(The mix should not be watery nor too thick to the point you are unable to stir the mix)
7. Transfer the Radish mix in to the prepared baking tin and place in over the pot to steam for roughly around 50 minutes to 1 hour.
note: If you are using a larger and shallow pan, steaming time will be lesser. To know when it it is ready, touch the top of the batter, it should be firm to tough and when tested with a skewer, it does not come out too wet, although it should still be slightly sticky
8. Remove the tin from the steamer and let cool, then wrap and place in fridge to fully chill overnight.
note: you need to let the starch absorb all the moisture, therefore it is easier to handle if you let it rest for a day otherwise it can be too soft.
9. The next day, cut the radish cake in to individual rectangles (half if it is too thick) and pan fry over a non stick pan slightly oiled until both sides are light golden in colour.
Serve with oyster sauce or Sriracha.
Alternatively, cut the radish cake in to individual cubes to make Chai Tow Kway (Recipe below)
To make the Chai Tow Kway (Pan fried Chinese Radish Cake with eggs and bean shoots)
Minced Garlic 1 tablespoon
White Onion 1/2 onion
Bean Shoots 250 g
Fried Tofu Puffs 6-8 puff
(cut in to bite sizes)
Bird Eyes Chilli 4 (Optional)
Dark Soy Sauce to taste
Chinese cooking Wine 1 tablespoon
Sesame Oil qs.
Oyster Sauce qs.
Spring onion Optional
Eggs 4 eggs
Chinese Radish Cake Above Recipe
(Pan fried and cubed)
If you are planning to use the radish cake for a stir fry dish (in Malaysia, we call this a Chai Tow Kway), simply follow the Radish cake recipe and instructions, pan fry the individual rectangle radish cake until they are golden and crispy on both sides, then cut up the radish cake in to bite size cubes, set aside until ready to use. I find that it is easier this way than trying stir fry the radish cake in cubes but you can definitely do it this way.
Note: If you want to make it savoury, add chinese sausage or a.k.a "Lapcheong" or soaked and strained dried shrimp that you can very easily find in Asian supermarket.
1. Once you have followed the above steps, start by preparing the ingredients for the stir fry.
2. Place the minced garlic, chilli, bean shoots and tofu in to an oiled non stick deep frying pan and sautee until they turn fragrant over high heat.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs together, then make a well in the frying pan and place the whisked eggs on to the hot pan. Gently stir the eggs until it is cooked, the stir through the ingredients together.
3. Mix Soy sauce, cooking wine oyster sauce and sesame oil together then stir in to the stir fry and toss the ingredients to incorporate, put the cubed radish cake in to the mix and adjust the taste to your taste by adding more soy sauce or pepper. Garnish with diced spring onion.