Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chinese Radish Cake- Loh Pak Ko

I had the urge to clean my fridge today, especially the vegetable and fruit compartments as it looked rather full with stuff. I found a chinese radish or daikon and a large carrot sitting in my fridge since Chinese New Year. The leftover daikon and carrot from making homemade yee sang for Chinese New Year. Three bunches of scallion, some leftover dried shrimps from my taro cake making experiment last year, two chinese sausages that has been sitting in the freezer for a while now and a bunch of shallots on the counter.

Immediately I thought of making Loh Pak Ko or Chinese Radish Cake. I am a big fan of radish cake and I am the only fan of radish cake in my house. I figure if I make a batch and save the leftover in the freezer, it should be good for a while. I never make Loh Pak Ko that often as I will be the only one to eat it. No one else in the family likes Chinese steamed Ko as they said the texture is strange.

To the uninitiated, Chinese Ko is made out of meat, veggies and rice flour mix. I can definitely see why, since it comes out soft. If you think of oatmeals and the like, it may help you to accept it somewhat. Beyond that, I really can't name other food here in the States which resembles the texture of Chinese Ko. Ko can be either sweet or savoury, depending on the ingredients available in the kitchen pantry.

Every cook has their own version of Loh Pak Ko. I have seen some recipes which called for soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil in making the dish. I prefer to season the Ko with only salt and pepper as I like to dip my Loh Pak Ko in soy sauce after it is done steaming. Don't ask me why, maybe I am just used to it that way.

The biggest thing when it comes to Loh Pak Ko is the Ko or cake part. Some recipes has the tendency of using too much rice flour, which to me if I want a cakey Loh Pak Ko, I can definitely find it in most of the dim sum place which tends to do just that to save on cost. I prefer my Loh Pak Ko with lots of ingredients and a lot less cakey than the commercial ones.

Rice flour played an integral part in making this Ko. I prefer using the Thai's Erawan Brand rice flour as it doesn't have the weird aftertaste unlike some of the Vietnamese brand rice flour. I find that the 1:1 ratio of flour-water mix to daikon-carrot mix is the perfect combination as the Ko will not come out too cakey. As I prefer my Loh Pak Ko with lots of ingredients, I tend to go overboard with the shitake mushrooms, Chinese sausage, dried shrimps, shallots and scallions. You can decrease the amount, if you wish, but why would you?

Chinese Radish Cake-Loh Pak Ko
3 cups shredded daikon/chinese radish
1 cup shredded carrots
5 dried shitake mushrooms (soaked in hot water for 30 minutes and diced)
2 links chinese sausages, diced
A handful of dried shrimps (soaked in hot water for 30 minutes and chopped)
3 shallots, finely sliced
3 scallions, chopped
2 cups rice flour (preferably Erawan Brand)
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of white pepper powder (black pepper is fine too)
1 tablespoon of oil

Step 1: Prepare all the ingredients.

Step 2: Shred daikon and carrots using a box grater or mandoline.

Step 3: Mix rice flour with one cup of water. Whisk till it is lump free. Batter will be fairly thick.

Step 4: In a wok, heat a tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Stir in shallots, chinese sausages, mushrooms, dried shrimps and scallion. Cook for a few minutes till aromatic.
Step 5: Add in shredded carrots and daikon. Stir to mix well with other ingredients. Add in water and let mixture comes to a boil.
Step 6: Add in the rice flour batter. Stir quickly to mix as it will get thick really quick

Reduce heat if necessary.

Step 7: Place mixture into a well greased saucepan or baking tin.

As I do not have a steamer at home, I made my own make-shift steamer using a pot filled with boiling water and a heavy bottom saucepan. If you are using this method, sprinkle about 2 tablespoon of water onto top of radish cake to avoid dryness.

Step 8: Steam for an hour. Let cool completely before slicing.
To serve: You can serve as is or pan fried the sliced radish cake in a non-stick pan using a teaspoon of oil.

Serve with some sweet hoisin sauce and chilli sauce like sriracha.

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