Turnip Cake (Lo Bak Go)!

I can't believe how easy it is to make this! I've always had this elaborate process built up in my head... like most things sometimes. Turnip cake or also known as lo bak go in a very rough Cantonese translation is one of my favorites. If you're not familiar with it, you can find them in places where they have dim sum. It's not cake at all so don't be misled by its name, its a bit dense, savory, and creamy, okay forget my description, its good stuff.  Its one of those common foods that many people already know how to make at home but with their own personal touches and preferences. My mom started making them for my brother and I while I was in high school. It's tasty but not my favorite (sorry...). The one my aunt makes, definitely up there on one of the top favorites. While I was in China, she made a boat load for my cousins and I to devour. My cousin is a big eater, at one point I seriously thought about hiding some so I would have some left over... 

Now that I'm much more interested in cooking and what not, I was, of course, poking my head in and out of the kitchen like some kind of creepier while she was throwing it all together. Like all traditional old fashion home cooking, there are no written notes, no recipes to follow, she did it all from memory - down to the very last grain of salt. The best kind of cooking there is and the product was tasty as ever. Now its my turn. Gave her a call the other day via WeChat and asked for some instructions (because its been a few months and I've forgotten about half the things she told me). By the end of the conversation I had to pause and be a little proud, not everyday you get to translate a recipe from a completely different language instantly in your head and writing it down in English. It was kind of fun in a nerdy kind of way. 

So anyways, here is MY version of this dish. For my first time, pretty good. I will need to play with it again to adjust to my liking - it was a little too doughy but the flavor was spot on! I had to make some changes because some of the more traditional Chinese ingredients were not as accessible but also Caveman is anti seafood (sad...). The recipe below has been readjusted with the appropriate amount of flour. One advice my aunt had was you really can't mess it up because some people like it super dense and other people like it semi-solid. Really a preference type of a thing. The consistency of this will be close to the ones you can get at dim sum but do adjust the flour levels as you see fit. Enjoy!

Turnip Cake (Lo Bak Go)
  • 2 lbs of turnip (or daikon radish), shredded
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • 4 strips of thick bacon, chopped
  • 2 Chinese sausages (or Chinese BBQ pork), chopped
  • 1/4 cup re-hydrated dried shrimp (optional or use 1 tsp of fish sauce)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1-2 tsp ground five spice
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 1/2 cup of rice flour *
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  1. Saute/cook bacon and sausages together, set aside, keep the grease. Leave a little on the pan to cook radishes with.
  2. Cook radish and sugar together until tender, radish will water, that's okay, you will use it.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine radishes, meats, and the rest of the ingredients, mix until well combine. Transfer into a metal pie tin or stainless steel plate that is steam friendly.
  4. Place into a large stock pot with about 1/4" of water and steam rack and cover. Bring water to a boil and turn down to medium low, steam for about 20-30 minutes until cake is slightly white translucent in color. Insert a knife or chopstick to check for doneness.
  5. Remove from heat, enjoy it now or cool completely and store in the fridge overnight, cut them into slices or cubes and pan fry with a bit of oil olive to give them a nice crispy outside (as pictured). Dip with some Sriracha, heaven!
* If you do not have any rice flour or would like an even smoother consistency in the turnip cakes,  you can make your own by soaking the same amount of rice in the amount of  water noted for the recipe for about 1-2 hours and using a food processor blend everything until smooth.