Monday, February 6, 2023
HomeHealthy FoodTurnip Cake (Lo Bak Go/蘿蔔糕/萝卜糕)

Turnip Cake (Lo Bak Go/蘿蔔糕/萝卜糕)

Turnip cake (蘿蔔糕/萝卜糕, lo bak go in Cantonese) is a dish that you just usually discover at dim sum. There are numerous regional variations of turnip cake. The one which’s hottest in dim sum eating places is lo bak go, which is southern Chinese language-style turnip cake. My mother’s recipe is that this southern-Chinese language model turnip cake. There’s additionally Taiwanese-style turnip cake, tsai tao kui (菜頭粿). You’ll be able to take a look at my buddy Irvin Lin’s recipe for tsai tao kui right here.

Pan frying the turnip cake offers it a crispy exterior, whereas the within stays mushy. Whenever you chew into a chunk, you’ll style umami flavors from components like dried scallops, dried shrimp, Chinese language sausage or Chinese language cured pork. Mama Lin has made lo bak go for years, and I’m glad I could make it myself now. I could also be biased, however I believe Mama Lin’s turnip cake is the very best!

Turnip Cake Recipe - this is a recipe for the classic Chinese lo bak go


Attempting to determine how lo bak go became “turnip cake” in English is convoluted and complicated.

Turnip cake is fabricated from daikon (lo bak in Cantonese), an extended white radish that’s generally utilized in Asian cooking. Technically, this dish should be “radish cake.” Nonetheless, lo bak go was translated as “turnip cake” by Chinese language eating places years in the past, and that’s the identify that has caught. We should roll with it.

One other problem is how “糕” (go) is translated into English as “cake.” In Chinese language, the phrase 糕 can check with many various meals: candy or savory batter that’s steamed right into a stable cake, like lo bak go; candy batter that’s steamed into moist and ethereal muffins; or candy batter that’s baked into Western-style muffins. I’ve at all times discovered “cake” to be an imprecise translation, however that’s the phrase you generally see these days.



White radish, like those you see above are generally utilized in Asian delicacies. This radish is available in many types. I generally see them labeled as daikon in grocery shops and farmers markets. Daikon (大根) is the Japanese identify for this radish and means “large root.”

Mama Lin prefers to cook dinner with the radish on the left, which is thicker and extra rounded. In response to my mom, the one of many proper, which she calls “Japanese daikon,” is extra bitter. I can’t say that I discover that large of a distinction between the 2. Any daikon ought to work for this recipe.

Turnip Cake Recipe - this is a recipe for the classic Chinese lo bak go


Flavoring bits


Mama Lin likes utilizing dried shrimp and dried scallops for her lo bak go. Soak them in a single day to rehydrate. The scallops specifically want a couple of hours of soaking earlier than they’re mushy sufficient to be shredded. Mama Lin usually provides Chines sausage (臘腸) and her hand-crafted Chinese language cured pork (臘肉) to taste the lo bak go as properly.

To convey out the flavour of those components, my mother would sauté them together with some shallots for a couple of minutes. She then seasons the flavoring bits with a little bit of salt and oyster sauce.


The very first thing you wish to do with the daikon is to trim the tops and peel the outer pores and skin. As you peel the daikon, for those who discover that the outer layers are dry and fibrous, use a peeler or knife to strip away the dry layers. This is a matter if the daikon you bought shouldn’t be recent. 

Then, grate the daikon. In case you are utilizing a field grater, use the most important grate. Remember to grate the daikon over a big bowl or a 9×13 pan, as you wish to protect all of the daikon juices that run out. If you wish to save time with meals prep, you’ll be able to grate the daikon utilizing a meals processor.


Earlier than mixing the daikon into the batter, Mama Lin often boils the daikon. She’ll hearth up the wok and sauté a couple of smashed cloves of garlic to get the flavors going. Then, she provides the daikon, together with 1 1/2 cups of water and cook dinner the radish for five to 7 minutes.

yellow rock sugar

Daikon is barely bitter, so she provides a couple of small items of yellow rock sugar to steadiness the flavors. Yow will discover it in Asian supermarkets. She prefers utilizing rock sugar as a result of she claims the sweetness is extra pristine (清甜). You’ll be able to substitute rock sugar with 4 teaspoons of granulated sugar. 


For the batter, Mama Lin makes use of a mix of equal components rice flour and cornstarch. The rice flour offers the cake construction whereas the cornstarch makes the cake softer. Should you don’t have cornstarch, you’ll be able to substitute it with one other starch, akin to potato starch or tapioca starch. 


daikon and flavoring bits

After you cook dinner the daikon for a couple of minutes, combine within the flavoring bits. Be sure you cut back the warmth to low. Then, fastidiously pour the batter into the wok. Stir all the pieces collectively till the batter is not runny (see photograph above). This shouldn’t take greater than 1 or 2 minutes. If the batter continues to be very runny at this stage, the turnip cake gained’t cook dinner correctly.

Pour all of the contents of the turnip cake right into a greased pan. Though I take advantage of a 9×2” round cake pan, you should use any pan, like an 8×8 sq. pan. Whichever pan you utilize, you wish to make certain it could possibly match right into a wok or steamer. 


boiling water in wok

To arrange the wok for steaming, place a steaming rack simply over 2 inches excessive within the middle of the wok. Fill the wok with sufficient water to achieve slightly below the highest of the steaming rack. Deliver the water to boil.

Lo Bak Go on Steaming Rack

Fastidiously place the turnip cake above the rack. Cowl and steam the cake for about 40 minutes.

I want utilizing a big wok, like this 14-inch stainless-steel one, for steaming. 

Steamed Turnip Cake


You wish to let the cake cool utterly earlier than serving. Mama Lin likes consuming the cake at room temperature as a result of she likes the mushy texture of the cake. I want them pan fried. Often, I chill the turnip cake within the fridge in a single day. That means, the cake turns into stiffer, which makes it simpler for slicing and pan frying. 

Turnip cake is superb with chili oil crisp, akin to Lao Gan Ma or Fly By Jing, or XO sauce. 

Turnip Cake Recipe - this is a recipe for the classic Chinese lo bak go


Turnip Cake Recipe - Mama Lin's lo bak go


Servings: 8

Writer: Lisa Lin

Turnip Cake (Lo Bak Go, 萝卜糕, 蘿蔔糕)

That is Mama Lin’s tried and true recipe for turnip cake (lo bak go). It’s made with daikon and flavored with dried shrimp, dried scallops, and Chinese language sausage. NOTE: I’ve up to date the recipe on March 4, 2022 to simplify the cooking course of and so as to add some Chinese language cured pork (臘肉). You’ll be able to depart it out or substitute with Chinese language sausage.

Prep Time45 minutes

Prepare dinner Time45 minutes

Complete Time1 hr 30 minutes


Flavoring Bits

  • 5 to six (15g) dried scallops, (see observe 1)
  • 1/4 cup (20g) dried shrimp
  • 3 tablespoons (30g) chopped shallots
  • 1/2 cup (65g) chopped Chinese language sausage
  • 1/4 cup (40g) chopped Chinese language cured pork
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil (any impartial oil works)
  • 1 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; halve the quantity if utilizing desk salt


  • 2 1/2 kilos daikon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 4 to five cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 1/2 cups (355ml) water
  • 2 small items (15g) rock sugar, can sub with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; halve the quantity if utilizing desk salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon floor white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon rooster bouillon powder, (optionally available, see observe 2)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


  • 1 cup (115g) rice flour, measured with spoon-and-sweep technique (see observe 3)
  • 1 scant cup (115g) cornstarch, measured with spoon-and-sweep technique
  • 1 cup (255ml) water


  • Soak the dried scallops and dried shrimp in water in a single day. Drain the water. Use your palms to shred the scallops. Roughly chop the dried shrimp.

  • Warmth 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet (or sauté pan) over medium-high warmth. Add the shallots and cook dinner for about 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Subsequent, add the dried shrimp, sausage, and cured pork and cook dinner for a minute. Then, add the dried scallops and cook dinner a minute extra. Combine in 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and oyster sauce. Flip off the warmth and switch all the pieces to a bowl. 

  • Peel the daikon and slice off the highest. Grate the daikon right into a 9×13 pan or a bowl. You’re doing this to make sure that you save all of the daikon juices that launch as you might be grating the turnips. Alternatively, grate the daikon utilizing a meals processor. 

  • Warmth 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a big wok (or deep sauté pan) over medium-high warmth. Add the garlic to the wok and sauté for a few minute, till aromatic. Switch the grated daikon (and any daikon juices) into the wok. Add 1 1/2 cups of water, the rock sugar, salt, white pepper, rooster powder, and garlic powder to the wok. Ensure that to put the rock sugar into the water to make sure that it dissolves correctly. Cowl the wok with a lid and cook dinner the daikon on excessive warmth for about 5 to 7 minutes.

  • Whereas the daikon is cooking, make the batter. Whisk the rice flour and cornstarch in a mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of water and stir. The batter is likely to be stiff at first, however maintain stirring till the batter is clean. 

  • Uncover the wok and cut back the warmth to low. Dig out the items of garlic. You don’t need massive chunks of garlic contained in the cake. Add the flavoring bits and stir to mix. Then, add the batter to the daikon and stir till batter is not runny. The batter ought to thicken in a minute or two. Flip off the warmth.

  • Calmly grease the cake pan with oil. Switch all of the components from the wok to the cake pan. Use a versatile spatula to clean out the highest of the turnip cake.

  • Wash the wok. Place a steaming rack within the middle of the wok and fill it with sufficient water in order that the water stage is slightly below the highest of the steaming rack. Deliver the water to boil.

  • Fastidiously place the turnip cake on high of the steaming rack. Cowl the wok and cook dinner on medium-high for 40 minutes. Ensure that to replenish the water after 25 minutes as a result of it’s going to evaporate.

  • Flip off the warmth and uncover the wok. Utilizing oven mitts, switch the cake to a cooling rack. You could discover some water on high of the steamed cake due to condensation that builds up underneath the wok lid. That’s okay. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes. If there’s nonetheless a skinny layer of water on high, fastidiously tip the cake pan to empty the water.

  • Let the cake cool for half-hour to 1 hour earlier than slicing and serving. If you wish to pan-fry the cake, let it cool utterly earlier than pan frying. The cake must set earlier than pan frying. In any other case, the cake will probably be mushy and mushy. It is even higher whenever you refrigerate the cake in a single day earlier than pan frying.

  • To pan fry, slice the cake into small squares or rectangles. Warmth 2 tablespoons of oil in a big skillet over medium-high warmth. Add the turnip cake items and pan fry both sides for about 3 to 4 minutes, till golden brown. Serve the turnip cake with Lao Gan Ma chili crisp or soy sauce.



  1. These scallops are about 1/2 to three/4 inch in diameter (dried). 
  2. My mother makes use of rooster powder usually to reinforce the umami taste of her dishes. Be at liberty to go away it out. You’ll be able to substitute the rooster powder with onion powder to present the dish extra taste. 
  3. I often use Thai rice flour that comes within the bag with the purple label. That is NOT glutinous rice flour or mochiko. Candy rice or glutinous rice flours gained’t work with this recipe as a result of they’ll make the cake chewy. I usually weigh my flours. See right here for more information concerning the spoon-and-sweep technique of measuring flour.
  4. You should utilize an 8×8-inch sq. pan or any pan that matches inside a wok. Should you use a loaf pan, you’ll probably want so as to add one other 5 to 10 minutes to the cooking time due to the depth of the pan.


Serving: 1serving | Energy: 266kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 8.1g | Fats: 8.9g | Saturated Fats: 3.1g | Ldl cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 653mg | Fiber: 2.8g | Sugar: 5g

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