Saturday, January 1, 2011

Chinese Fried Turnip Cake--Lor Bok Goh Dzin

I and the rest of my family have to credit my wife for introducing us to the pleasure of lor bok goh dzin.  Although we had long been fond of going out for dim sum, these had never appealed to us, primarily because of their English name.  Turnips just don't have much appeal, at least in my family.  How these acquired their English name is a mystery, for they contain no turnip.  Their primary ingredient is daikon, a large, mild white radish.

The best lor bok goh are almost pudding-like in their consistency, firm enough to cut into rectangles to be fried, but still soft and gelatinous.  When fried, there is the contrast between the crisp crust and the silky interior.  We prefer to eat these with a generous amount of crushed chili in oil and soy sauce.

Erring on the side of caution, I steamed these a little too long, which produced a firm cake that was easy to slice and fry, but lacked the suppleness I was aiming for.  Next time I will cut back on the steaming time, removing the pan just when the edges of the cake begin to pull away from the sides.
The recipe is adapted from Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's The Dim Sum Book.

Lor Bok Goh Dzin

21 ounces (about four cups) fresh daikon radish, washed, peeled, and coarsely grated
25 ounced cold water
1 quarter-inch-thick slice of ginger, peeled and mashed
1 clove of garlic, peeled
2 TBS Shaoxing rice wine
pinch of white pepper

1 pound of rice flour (not glutinous rice flour)
2 cups cold water
2 TBS dried shrimp, soaked in water to soften, then diced
2/3 cup Chinese bacon (lop yuk), diced
3 dried shitakes, soaked to soften and diced
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 TBS salt
1/2 cup liquefied fork fat (or vegetable oil)

2 TBS dry-roasted sesame seeds
4 green onions, finely sliced
1 TBS cilantro, finely minced

Placed the grated radish, ginger, garlic, wine, pepper and water in a large pot.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  When it comes to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Discard garlic and ginger, drain.

Mix together flour and water in large mixing bowl.  Add shrimp, bacon, mushrooms, pepper, salt, and oil.  Stir to mix well.  Add the drained daikon and stir until everything is thoroughly mixed.

Pour into a greased 9-inch-square cake pan and steam until cooked, about 1 hour.  I would recommend steaming until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan but the center is still slightly jiggly.

The cake can be served warm, cooled slightly after removing from the steamer and then sliced.  Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, green onions and cilantro.

To fry, refrigerate the cooled cake overnight and slice into 1/3-inch-thick rectangular slices.  Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of peanut oil.  When it is almost smoking, plan fry the slices for about 3 minutes on one side until browned, then turn and brown on the other side.  Sprinkle with the garnishes and serve hot.

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