Cookbook: Everyday Favourites by Mrs Leong Yee Soo
The obvious choice for rice theme week would have been fried rice or risotto, but I’ve strayed away from using the rice grain and used rice flour for my Cookbook Challenge recipe this week.
Fried radish cake is better known as fried carrot cake or chai tao kueh in Singapore, and pretty much every hawker centre in Singapore will have at least one stall selling it. You can get it black or white, black meaning it has dark sauce added to it. It’s one of the first dishes I eat when visiting Singapore and one of my favourites.
I’m not sure why it is called carrot cake in Singapore as there is no carrot in the recipe! It does have the white Chinese radish, which looks like a large white carrot and perhaps that is where the name comes from. Carrot cake means an entirely different thing here in Melbourne, being a sweet dessert type cake with actual (orange) carrots.
Fried radish cake is not very common in Melbourne, the only place I have eaten it was at Penang Coffee House in Hawthorn. I don’t why I have developed such a taste for it since it doesn’t really have any ingredients, but I guess it is more of a textural thing and the sauce and preserved radish makes it tasty.
Fried radish cake (chai tao kueh)
For wet rice flour
310g glutinous rice flour
1. Place flour in a mixing bowl and gradually pour in the cold water.
2. Stir until it becomes a firm paste. Mine didn’t turn out as a paste – it was more like chalky clumps, but it was fine.
3. Use the amount required and the remainder can be frozen.
For steamed radish cake
310g Chinese radish (lo bak), skinned and finely grated
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
310g wet rice flour (see recipe above)
155g rice flour
450ml water, extra
1 tbsp oil
1. Place grated radish in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil for 10 minutes. Drain and repeat boiling process, then drain and set aside.
2. In a saucepan, combine the first 450ml water, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil.
3. In a large bowl, combine the wet rice flour, rice flour and the second 450ml of water and stir until well blended.
4. Pour the flour mixture gradually into the saucepan of boiling water, stirring constantly. Add the radish and oil and reduce the heat to low.
5. Using a wooden spoon, stir mixture until it becomes thick and pasty and is only half cooked.
6. Remove saucepan from the heat and pour the flour mixture into a round 22cm tin (not springform or it will leak).
7. Place tin in a steamer and steam for 1 hour or until cooked through.
8. Leave steamed radish cake to cool completely in tin.
For fried radish cake
550g steamed radish cake, cut about 1 inch thick (see above)
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp garlic, crushed
2 tbsp chilli sauce, optional (I left this out)
2 tbsp sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
2 tbsp salted radish (also known as preserved radish/turnip or chai poh)
Spring onions to garnish
1. Heat oil in a wok and fry steamed radish cake until brown and slightly crisp.
2. Break in eggs and spread in a thin layer to cook. Meanwhile cut up the radish cake into smaller pieces.
3. Add in the dark soy sauce and stir fry.
4. Push radish cake mixture to one side, add some oil and stir fry garlic. Mix through radish cake.
5. Push radish cake mixture to one side again, add some oil and stir fry salted radish. Mix through radish cake.
6. Add chilli sauce and sweet soy sauce and stir fry everything for another 1-2 minutes.
7. Transfer to a plate and garnish with spring onions.
Results: One of the prerequisites of a good fried radish cake is the smoky flavour which comes from a very high heat and a good wok. That was missing from my dish, but it still tasted pretty close to what I can get in Singapore. It was very tasty and had a good texture. However, the portion of the original cake makes way too much for two people and after eating it for several meals in a row, there was still quite a bit left. There’s only so much of it you can eat on its own since there are no other ingredients. I’m glad I tried to make it, but I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble for only two of us – there are so many steps!
Would I make it again? Yes, but only if there are more than two of us eating it.
Over & Out, April xx