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20100217 Chinese New Year Celebrations

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Yippee's picture
Yippee

20100217 Chinese New Year Celebrations

This year is the Year of Tiger.  It’s a tradition for Cantonese to make cakes for the Chinese New Year.  The pronunciation of cakes, which is ‘GO’, is the same as the word ‘tall’ in Cantonese.  Seniors in the family like to wish their grandchildren grow tall and healthy (快高長大) in the New Year.  Therefore, cakes are an indispensable part of the Chinese New Year celebrations. 


 


We make all sorts of cakes, sweet and savory, from rice or glutinous rice flours.  My favorite is radish (daikon) cakes.   You’ll find them where dim sum is served in a Chinese restaurant or they are sold pre-packaged in a Chinese grocery store when it’s close to the Chinese New Year.  But let me tell you, these are no comparison to the homemade ones. For the ones money can buy, they are usually made with a very high proportion of flour and very little radish and other ingredients.  Therefore, these cakes often turn out very hard and have very little flavor. 


 


Before the New Year, I usually prepare a very fancy version of daikon cake which consists of Japanese dried scallops(瑤柱), dried shrimps(蝦米), Virgina ham (金華火腿), Chinese style cured and smoked ham(臘肉), Cantonese style sausage(臘腸), plenty of shredded daikon and a small amount of rice flour. The mixture of all ingredients is steamed for about 45 minutes and let cool on wire rack.  During the New Year, we normally lightly pan fry the cake before enjoying it. It is crispy outside with flavorful seafood and meats.  Instead of the usual gumminess you’ll experience from store-bought daikon cakes, the mouthfeel of the inside of this cake is moist and soft, with the fibrous chunks of shredded daikon coming apart.  With all the ingredients, it’s a big, tasty meal in itself and I like to dip it with Lee Kum Kee (李錦記) chili sauce before serving.


 

I must give credit to my husband for his efforts to assist me in the preparation of radish cakes this year.   He took on the role of dicing and weighing ingredients and shredding the radish, which are the most time consuming parts of the process.  He wanted to do this with me so that we can spend more precious time together.  I truly appreciate his thoughts and prepare many good foods in return. The radish cake served today was pan fried and pictured by my husband as well.    

 

As a parent, I too wish my children grow tall and healthy after eating my radish cake, the ‘GO’, and have a head start in the New Year.

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/33569048@N05/sets/72157623330067415/show/

Comments

DonD's picture
DonD

Hi Yippee,


The radish cakes are one of my favorites at Dim Sum especially when they are pan fried. Yours look delicious. I have a question for you. Recently, I was given as a present a wooden mold to make Moon Cakes. Do you happen to have a recipe for the mixed nuts kind? Thanks.


Happy New Year!


Don

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Don:


Happy New Year!  I know of a homebaker in Hong Kong who makes professional quality Moon Cakes at home.  I could contact her for you if you're serious about trying it out.  I haven't tried making Moon Cakes myself because it's quite time consuming.


Yippee

rts306's picture
rts306

Don, you can look over Yochana's blog...she has lots of recipes for mooncakes...just google yochana cake delights.  She is based in SG.

DonD's picture
DonD

I found the website and there is a lot of good stuff there. Thanks for your help.


Don

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Yippee those look great! Are the ones in the pictures the version with the shrimp ham and sausage inside? They have a nice color.


Happy New Year!


Eric

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Eric:


These were made with all the ingredients I mentioned in my post.  Thank you for your compliments.


Yippee

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Love those when I go to dimsum, never thought that you can make them at home!

LeeYong's picture
LeeYong

That looks delicious!!!! I made some Nan Gao right before Chinese New Year and I'm enjoying every bit of it!!!! WOOHOOOO!!! Go Tiger!

Yippee's picture
Yippee

for your kind words.  Happy New Year!


 


Yippee

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

Happy Year of the Tiger, Yippee!


I have always wanted to try making daikon cake.  Got the recipe, daikons & other ingredients but was afraid hubby and little man wouldn't like it.  My biggest problem is that I don't have a wok or bamboo steamers.  All I have is a plastic veggie steamer that's too small to put any pans in it.  Any suggestions?  Al



Yippee's picture
Yippee

Hi, Al:


From what I remember, my aunty bakes some of her New Year cakes when steamers cannot meet the demands. Whether or not daikon cake is on the to-bake list, I need to clarify.


My kids and hubby really enjoy my daikon cakes.  Why don't you try yours once so you'll know for sure whether they like it.


Yippee 

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

Thanks Yippee!  My veggie steamer comes with a plastic "basket" for vegetables that is about 9" X 5" in oval shape, about 2" deep.  I filled the basket with 5 cups (750ml) of water and is about 1/2" from the rim.  I imagine 6 cups will fill right to the top & that would be too much.  


This is the recipe I am interested:


Golden Crisp Daikon Cake with Spicy Herb Sauce adapted from Feb 2007 Bon Appetit


1 1/2 pounds daikon (Asian white radish),* peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces


2 Chinese sweet pork sausages (lop chong),* cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 3 ounces)


1/2 cup finely chopped green onions (about 3 large)


2 tablespoons small dried shrimp,* finely chopped


1 small shallot, finely diced


1 1/2 cups water, (squeeze the diced daikon to extract some of the liquid, and top up the volume with water)


4-5 pieces of dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water for 30 minutes.


Nonstick vegetable oil spray


1 1/2 cups rice flour*


1 cup soy sauce


1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil


2 tablespoons (or more) vegetable oil, divided


1 cup fresh cilantro leaves


1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger, juices included


2 small Thai red chiles*, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, thinly sliced crosswise or 1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)*


1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted


I need to know how much daikon and other ingredients to put in my plastic basket & how long to steam the cake for.  Do you have any suggestions? 


Thanks again.  Al




 



Yippee's picture
Yippee

Al:


Your basket is about the same volume of a 9' tin foil cake pan, which I use to give away radish cakes to friends.  I usually use 1.5 lb of radish as well whenever using this pan.  Make sure you don't fill it all the way up to the top as the 'batter' will expand after steaming. Fill it to about 1 cm below the top. The rest of the ingredients really don't take up much room since the radish will soften. 


I normally cover the pan with non-stick foil to prevent condensed steam from the lid dripping back to it, which will make the cake very watery. (Bamboo steamer may not have this problem, mine is metal)  Nevertheless, the steamed cake will appear watery but will firm up after cooling overnight.  Use paper towel to lightly and quickly absorb the excess water on top of the cake before cooling.  I usually leave the cake out in room temperature the first night since it's very hot and move it to the fridge the next day. 


Steaming for about 30 minutes works fine with this size of pan, give it extra 10-15 minutes will guarantee your first cake is absolutely cooked. 


If you already have all the ingredients called for in this recipe, I'd go for it if I were you.  This way you'll have a better idea of this cake and the preferences of your family before exploring other variations.   


Yippee  


 

rts306's picture
rts306

Al. do you plan to steam the daikon cake then cut it up into slices and pan fry before serving?  Then you need to shred or at least cut the daikon into small match stick size (not cut into one inch pieces)...you prob shd also cut the sausage and mushrooms (soaked then drained) into smallish stripes/pieces as well.  Otherwise, when you cut the cake into thick slices to pan fry, you will have a hard time. 


I usually stir fry the daikon, dried shrimps, mushrooms and sausage first (to bring out their aromas and to wilt them a little) before adding the seasoned rice flour solution.  Stir this well to evenly distribute the ingredients. I would not season the solution with soy sauce....I would only use salt and freahly ground pepper.  You can sprinkle the sesame seeds and cilantro leaves on top toward the end of the steaming which will prob take close to an hour.  To test if your solution is just right, you can try microwaving a small bowl of the mixture - not totally accurate but will give you an idea if you need more or less water/more rice flour)


Oh, yeah....do not use sweet or sticky rice flour...use regular rice flour.....or the cake will never harden.


No offense...but some Asian blogs would prob give you a more authentic recipe for the dimsum type daikon cake.  Try these blogs: Kitchen capers, Yochana, Lily Ng or Angie's recipes.


My personal preferences:


Using stored bought shallots rather fresh shallots are much much better and fragrant.


You don't really need the vegie steamer basket....any deep dish will do....you can even use a cake pan or casserole dish.....you can also improvise and use any big pot to steam the daikon cake....just find a rack (maybe your local Asian store will have them) or a couple of old tin cans (remove both top and bottom) and use them as the rack.


Help thes help!


 

rts306's picture
rts306

Al, I found some blogs with radish cake recipes...hope these links work.


http://lilyng2000.blogspot.com/2007/03/radishdaikonturniplaw-pak-koh.html


http://wlteef.blogspot.com/2006/01/law-pak-ko.html


http://jodelibakery.netfirms.com/


OR just google these blogs:  Lily Ng, Jo's deli and do what I like

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

Thanks so much rts360! I am going to check out those links once little man goes down for the night.


Yippee, this is a recipe I found online.  I chose it simply because I have everything the recipe calls for.  I only copied and pasted the ingredients.  The blog actually has a lot more details on how to prepare the cake.  The daikon pieces are to shred with a grating disc in a food processor.  The blogger, Mandy, probably came from Singapore/Maylasia who now lives in the US.  She did mention the difference between regular rice flour and glutineous rice flour, in the comments section. Here's her recipe:


http://novice-baker.blogspot.com/2008/01/favorite-dim-sum-item-golden-crisp.html


I love Angie's recipes but her daikon cake recipe calls for carrots.  I just thought it was a bit strange.


I asked my husband to buy a bamboo steamer but he said we already had one.  I didn't know that.  :-o  Now we have to go look in the basement to find it.  Hopefully it's the right size to fit into the largest pot in the kitchen.  I have a couple of questions about using a bamboo steamer though... do I need to line the bamboo steamer before pouring the ingredients in for steaming?  How do I know if the bamboo steamer is the right size for the recipe?  Do I take the cake out once it's done or do I refrigerate the cake in the steamer overnight as Mandy (the blogger) mentioned? 


I will also check out the other recipes; hopefully the ingredients required are not too different than what I have already bought. 


Al


 


 


 


 


 


 


 




Yippee's picture
Yippee

Al:


The thicker the cake, the longer it takes to cook thoroughly.  Use a chopstick to poke the cake to make sure it comes out clean.  Whatever container you use in the steamer really doesn't matter. For the amount of ingredients called for in your recipe, I'll give it 1 hour top if it's thicker than 2'.


No need to line the steamer unless you're steaming buns in it.


Yippee


 

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

I am steaming the daikon cake right now.  I did find the bamboo steamer but it was too big even for the largest pot in my kitchen.  I ended up using the veggie steamer with the plastic basket for that purpose.  I pretty much followed the recipe; everything looked good until I added the rice flour & water mixture.  I thought it would look like wet batter but it was quite thick and drier than what I thought it would be.  I used 1:1 flour:water ratio so not sure if its normal or not. I used a spoon to smooth down the surface then steamed away.


Anyway, I filled the basket to 1/2" from the top so it should have enough space for the cake to expand.  The thickness of the cake is a bit over 1-1/2" but I decide to steam it for 45 minutes just to make sure it's done. 


Now the cake is in and all I do is to hope for the best. :-)  Thank you again for your assistance.  I will let you know how it turns out - and how my family likes it.


Al


 




Yippee's picture
Yippee

Al:


I noticed the ratio as well.  I didn't make any comments even though my favorite ratio differs.  The first time you try a recipe, it's better to follow it faithfully.  Considering the amount of daikon used, I bet this cake will come out pretty firm, which makes it easier to achieve the golden color when pan fried.  I like it softer so I use about 3 lbs of daikon in my cake with similar amount of liquid and flour.  Either way, it works.  It's all about personal preference. You're so confident when you make bread that you can do it without a recipe.  You will do the same with this cake after making it a few times and knowing what you and your family like.


Yippee

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

Yippee,


you're absolutetly right about the texture of my cake.  It turned out quite firm; flavor was good though.  I pan fried some, this morning, for hubby and little man for breakfast to go with the fish congee that I'd started in the crockpot last night.  They ate a small amount of pan fried daikon cake but not much.  Well, at least they ate some! :-)  As for me I didn't mind and I ate most of the fried cake (I eat pretty much every so go figure)! :-o


Here's a picture of a freshly cut daikon cake ready to be fried:



And this one is ready for the table:



If I will ever make this cake again I will use 1/2 the amount of rice flour/water to daikon.  It was just a bit too cake-y for my family.  With the three of us together, we ate about 1/3 of the cake.  That high amount of rice flour made the cake very filling.  I don't think I can eat the rest of it all by myself.  What is the shelf life of steamed daikon cake if kept in the fridge?  Can it be frozen? 


Al

Yippee's picture
Yippee

is about a week in the fridge but I would slice and freeze it now if you don't feel like eating it again this week. Your cake looks very authentic!


Yippee

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

I will slice and freeze the cake today.  Will keep it for special occasions.  Maybe hubby and little man will eat some more in the future.  :-) Al


rts306's picture
rts306

So sorry...Yippee....this is your blog...not the forum...did not mean to butt in.

Yippee's picture
Yippee

We all benefit from an open disucussion. 


Yippee