Last week, my dad bought 2 big Korean radishes because they were on promo. I had just cooked some Beef with Radish last week and I didn’t feel like making something like that again, not even the Korean Beef & Radish Soup (Soegogi Muguk). Those two are my favorite recipes for radish (labanos) for ulam, but I wanted to do something else, and the radish has been sitting in the vegetable drawer for a week already, I need to cook them asap! Why not make radish cake? 😀
Radish cake is one of my favorite dimsum items, but Chinese restaurants rarely make it the way I like it. Most of them scrimp on the ingredients, and while the strips of radish are traditional, I don’t like them. I like my radish cake texture smooth, with enough of the “filling” but not too much.
I used to help my grandmother make this, but it was just too much work and took all day and I can’t remember making it since she passed. We grated the radish by hand then!
Anyway, I wanted to make radish cake, and I thought things might be easier if I incorporated modern conveniences 😀 It turns out, making this radish cake only took about an hour of prep + steaming time! I was expecting it to take at least 4 hours or so.
I’m using Korean radish here because that is what I had, but it’s ideally made with regular radish (daikon / labanos).
HOW TO MAKE RADISH CAKE AT HOME, QUICKLY AND EASILY
First things first, check if you have the ingredients handy.
- 1 – 1.2 kg of radish (it’s difficult to get exactly 1kg of radish, but just buy several radishes until you have around 1kg – 1.2 kg)
- 2 cups rice flour (NOT glutinous rice flour, that’s different! The rice flour is only around P40 per pack, I usually find them at Unimart Greenhills or Landmark supermarket)
- 2 cups water/soaking liquid + more if you want softer radish cake
- 1 tsp salt (I used kosher salt, you can also use sea salt; if you are using iodized salt, reduce the amount by about half since iodized salt is saltier by volume)
- 1 tsp sugar
- generous dashes of white pepper
- Chinese sausages (don’t get the cheap ones that are P12-20 per stick at the palengke; get the good ones, I usually see some good ones at S&R and also at Robinsons Supermarket; or you may have some from Hong Kong)
- Small dried shrimps (hebi)
- Chives or green onions, chopped
- Dried scallops (optional)
- Dried shiitake mushrooms (optional)
We always have dried scallops, dried shiitake mushrooms, dried oysters, Chinese sausages, Chinese liver sausages at home. When we are running low on these things, we panic! Haha. Those are essential ingredients to most traditional Chinese dishes, especially those for special occasions. We buy most of them in Hong Kong, sometimes they are pasalubong from other friends and relatives who went to HK. If we’re out of them, we buy locally at S&R or at Robinsons, or from the Ongpin shops.
For the Chinese sausages, there are the “good” branded ones that we eat by themselves, steamed with the rice, and these are usually sold by shops in HK that specialize in cured meats. For something like the radish cake, I just used Chinese sausages we bought from the Hong Kong palengke. Yes, we have several kinds of Chinese sausages in stock. Haha 🙂
As for the mushrooms, you don’t need to buy the expensive ones. The thicker, whole-r (mas buo) mushrooms are more expensive, but since we’re going to cut up the mushrooms anyway, you can buy the cheaper ones.
For the dried mushrooms, scallops, etc… you can buy them all over HK (avoid Nathan Road shops, they are more expensive), but in general, mushroom prices are not as expensive as they used to be years ago. We haven’t bought dried scallops locally and I haven’t seen them at any supermarket, but I’m sure you can find some in Ongpin.
If you don’t have dried scallops or mushrooms, that’s totally fine. What’s important is having Chinese sausage and small dried shrimp (hebi).
We need to soak the dried stuff in water. This usually takes 30 minutes or more, but I popped them in the microwave for 30 seconds each (dried ingredient + enough water), took them out, and let them continue soaking in the hot water, and they were soft in 10 minutes. The quantity of the ingredients depends on how much filling you like in your radish cake. Put as much, or as little, as you like.
While the dried ingredients are soaking, I rinsed the Chinese sausages and cut them up. I used 3 sausages, but you can use more or less, depending on how much you like, but most people use 2 sausages. They are usually cut quartered, 1/4-inch rounds cut into 4 pieces, but my dad requested for a smaller cut so it would be easier for him to chew.
Peel and cut up the radish:
Cut up the mushrooms. By the time I’m done cutting up the sausages and radish, the mushrooms are soft and ready to be cut up, as well. Roughly cut up the shrimp into smaller pieces. Loosen the dried scallops, break apart the big chunks. Don’t throw away the soaking liquid!
Slice some green onions/ chives, separating the white parts and the green parts.
Process the radish in the food processor until chopped fine! This is such a time-saver, I will forever do this 🙂 What used to take so much effort, and sometimes even gave me wounded fingers, is now finished in a few seconds!
Alternatively, you can use the grating attachment in your food processor. My food processor is an ancient Moulinex Regal La Machine II and I can’t remember if it came with attachments. If it did, I’ve already lost them. 😀 That’s why the plastic is already yellowish. It used to be white! Hahaha. But it still works very well so I haven’t replaced it.
Even during the days when we grated radish by hand, we used a fine grater so I am used to finely grated radish. If you prefer your radish in larger strips, you can totally do that, too.
All of this prep took me about 30 minutes.
Now that all the ingredients are ready, it’s time to start cooking!
Cook the radish. No need to add water. Just cook it until the radish is soft, about 10 minutes on medium heat, stirring to make sure they are all cooked evenly. Cover your pan for faster cooking. If your radish is very watery, that’s fine. Transfer to a big mixing bowl.
Saute the filling. While the radish is cooling on the mixing bowl, on the same pan that you used to cook the radish, add a small amount of oil and, on medium high heat, saute the Chinese sausages, mushrooms, hebi, scallops, and white part of green onion until fragrant. You don’t need to cook them, we just want them to get fragrant. When they smell nice and aromatic, turn off the heat and add the green onions. Stir to mix.
Add the 2 cups of rice flour to the radish and mix with the radish. I do this to prevent the flour from making big lumps once I add the liquid.
This is what the rice flour package looks like. There are several brands. There’s a price tag pa, it’s P34.75 🙂
Add the liquid. I carefully poured all the soaking waters into a measuring up, making sure not to get any of the sediments at the bottom. This liquid is very flavorful, however, the mushroom liquid will make the radish cake a bit brownish. If you want a very white radish cake, just use water instead of the soaking liquids.
Pour the 2 cups of liquid into the radish and rice flour mixture, mix. My radish was quite dry, so I actually added an extra 1/2 cup of water because I wanted my radish cake on the softer side. You can adjust the liquid based on your preference – add a little more for softer radish cake, use a little less for firmer radish cake.
Add the filling, mix. Season with the salt, sugar and white pepper. Mix well.
Steaming the Radish Cake
Prepare your pan. You can use whatever you like, glass, stainless, etc… as long as it fits into your steamer and there’s enough room for the steam to circulate. This all fit into an old cake pan – I lined the bottom with foil to make it easy to take the radish cake out, and I oiled the inside of the pan. Ideally, the radish cake should be about 3-4 inches tall.
Transfer radish cake batter to the pan. Steam for 1 hour.
This is not a sensitive cake, so don’t worry about the temperature. Just keep it steaming, using medium heat would be my recommendation.
I did some research about steaming this in a pressure cooker, thinking it would be faster. But from what I’ve found online so far, steaming with a pressure cooker still takes 40 minutes. I just don’t feel like it’s worth the effort to take out the pressure cooker just to save 20 minutes of cooking time.
Serving the Radish Cake
You can eat the radish cake as is, but most people like it better pan-fried.
If you are going to pan-fry the radish cake, you need to refrigerate it first so that it will be firmer. Or else it’s going to be too soft and will break apart. Pan-fry slices of radish cake until they are toasted and soft.
You can serve the radish cake with some good soy sauce, like the sweeter, Chinese-style Lee Kum Kee Soy Sauce. My personal preference is with some hoisin sauce. Some people like it with hot sauce. Others like oyster sauce.
I like mine very toasted, but I also fried some “less-toasted” ones. Fry it however you like it 🙂
Some of you might find this radish cake made with food-processor-chopped radish a bit mushy, but for me, it’s alright. Just pan-fry it very well. I would rather have this than spend an extra how many hours and effort to grate the radish by hand. 🙂 Still delicious, and it was gone in a few days.
Hope you found this post helpful. Please let me know if you like this recipe 🙂
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