The Cookbook Challenge: Week 19 Rice recipe – Fried radish cake (chai tao kueh)

by April@MyFoodTrail on April 1, 2010

in Asian, Cookbook Challenge 2010, Cooking, Mains, Recipes

Theme: Rice
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)

Fried radish cake 06 - Finished 2

For wet rice flour

310g glutinous rice flour
210ml water

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.

Fried radish cake 01 - Wet rice flour

Wet rice flour

3. Use the amount required and the remainder can be frozen.

For steamed radish cake

310g Chinese radish (lo bak), skinned and finely grated
450ml water
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.

Fried radish cake 02 - Method 1

Chinese white radish; Grated radish

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.

Fried radish cake 04 - Method 3

Stirring the mixture; After taking it out from the steamer

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)
4 eggs
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.

Fried radish cake 03 - Method 2

Frying steamed radish cake; Adding the eggs & cutting into 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.

Fried radish cake 05 - Method 4

Frying off garlic; Frying off salted radish

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.

Fried radish cake 07 - Finished 1

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

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

imasugarjunkie April 1, 2010 at 12:01 pm

wow – this looks really yummy and something I never would have thought to make.


Anh April 1, 2010 at 1:03 pm

I like this rice cake, too. My MIL ate a lot of it. I made it once or twice for her 🙂


OohLookBel April 1, 2010 at 4:10 pm

That looks gorgeous! My mother makes this and I love eating it, especially when it's fried up afterwards.


Jackie April 1, 2010 at 6:44 pm

I often order dishes like this at restaurants – because I've always thought it must be impossibly hard to make. I think you've just proved me wrong and I'm going to have to give it a go. Looks good!


mademoiselle délicieuse April 2, 2010 at 9:45 am

I suspect the carrot part has to do with Chinese naming, with white raddish/turnip being called 蘿蔔 and carrot being called 紅蘿蔔 ie. 'red raddish'. Bit of confusion in translation!


Maria@TheGourmetChallenge April 2, 2010 at 10:49 am

So clever of you to do something different and use rice flour in your recipe. I've never come across this dish before, so its a real eye opener for me!


Rizka April 2, 2010 at 4:36 pm

this looks yum, Rilsta!


penny aka jeroxie April 2, 2010 at 11:53 pm

it is called carrot because of the translation. radish = white carrot! 🙂
I miss this and made a while ago. Need to make it soon again.


Clare @ Mrs Multitasker April 3, 2010 at 4:31 pm

A: Looks awesome and very authentic!
And oh wow I had NO idea it was that much trouble making chye tow kway! What an eye opener!


Agnes April 4, 2010 at 11:33 am

Ahhhh you should've called me, I would have totally helped you out with the eating. 😉

And what mademoiselle délicieuse and Penny said re the carrot.

Reply April 4, 2010 at 5:05 pm

I've never seen or heard of this before, but definitely would like to try it. Sometimes the most simple of flavours are the best.


April @ My Food Trail April 6, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Hi imasugarjunkie: I've been wanting to make this so was trying to fit it into one of the themes!

Hi Anh: Aww, you're such a good daughter in law! 🙂

Hi Bel: Yeah, the steamed cake tastes too plain on its own – it definitely needs to be fried with the other ingredients.


April @ My Food Trail April 6, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Hi Jackie: It's not hard to make, just a bit time consuming! Let me know how you go – hope you enjoy it!

Hi mademoiselle délicieuse: Thanks! I don't know how to read Chinese but it makes sense!

Hi Maria: If you ever go to Singapore, you have to try it there!

Hi Rizka: Thanks!

Hi Penny: Thanks for clearing that up!

Hi Clare: Thanks! Seems like too much work to make it at home when you can get it for $2 at the hawker stall!!

Hi Agnes: Thanks! I shall keep you in mind if I make it again! 🙂

Hi Leigh: Yeah, it was a simple flavour, but one of my favourites!


Conor @ HoldtheBeef April 7, 2010 at 11:39 am

Ooh I can imagine the nice squishy texture! The radish cake I've had has been a little bland, but this looks like it is packed with flavour. I need to have some! I'm feeling a bit lazy these days though, so perhaps you'll have to come make some for me.


Leon April 11, 2010 at 11:01 pm

is there something wrong with ur recipe ?
i tried and turn out watery 🙁


Leon April 11, 2010 at 11:02 pm

i find the grating part the most troublesome.


April @ My Food Trail April 12, 2010 at 9:49 am

Hi Reroyu: Oh no, sorry to hear it didn't work out for you. I've checked the recipe again and that was what I used to make mine. When you originally make the wet rice flour, there will be some left over in the radish cake steps because you only need 310g of it and it produces more than 310g.

Also make sure you drain the radish completely. There should only be a total of 900ml of water used in the recipe.

I actually found grating the radish the easiest. Do you have a large hole grater or mandolin? It is the easiest thing to use to grate radish.

Let me know if you have any further questions.


April @ My Food Trail April 15, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Hi Conor: Come to Melbourne and I will make it for you! 🙂


Leon April 22, 2010 at 9:38 pm

sadly failed again. demoralized after third try.
the cake was too wet and soggy n sticky, i followed all the steps.


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