Vegan Turnip Cake or Daikon Radish Cake

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Turnip cake or daikon radish cake (law bock gaw in Cantonese, called daikon mochi (大根餅)in Japanese) is a staple of dim sum. It’s also part of the Chinese New Year feast. It is dense, a bit sticky, and very filling.

Traditionally it’s made from shredded white turnip, or more commonly from shredded daikon radish, rice flour, various shredded or chopped vegetables, plus dried shrimp, Chinese ham or bacon and/or sausage and so on, and it’s fried in lard. Given that it’s pretty good to eat hot or at room temperature, I tried making a vegan version, which could be the main protein in a vegan bento, or a combination protein-carb. I am pretty happy with the results.

I’ll show you two ways to make this. The first is the traditional method of putting the batter into a heatproof dish or mold and to steam it for about an hour, let it cool, and then slice the cake and fry the pieces. The second method omits the steaming stage and is a lot faster. Both methods yield little cakes that are dense, filling and mochi-like on the inside with a sweetness that comes from the shredded daikon radish, and crispy-salty on the outside.

It’s not exactly a quick recipe, though the second method is a lot faster. But you can make a lot of them at once and freeze the extras. Weekend project perhaps?

Vegan Daikon Radish Cake or Turnip Cake

This amount of batter will make a square cake that yields about 48 little cakes, each about 50-60 calories depending on how much oil you use to fry them in.

  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 200g / 7oz (about 1 1/4 cups) rice flour (see Notes)
  • 200g / 7oz (about 1 1/4 cups) sweet or glutionous rice flour or mochiko
  • 1 small to medium daikon (mouli) radish, yielding about 4 cups (880ml) shredded
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 1 cup boiled edamame (beans only)
  • 3 tablespoons white miso
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 cup drained canned white or cannellini beans
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (fresh coriander) leaves (optional)
  • 1 Tbs. sesame oil
  • Vegetable or olive oil for frying the little cakes
  • Additional soy sauce or hoisin sauce, optional (use a gluten-free version if you have a problem with gluten)

Traditional long method

Equipment needed: bamboo steamer, heatproof square or circular mold, frying pan

Equipment suggested: a food processor

Soak the shiitake mushrooms in enough warm water to cover, until they are softened. (Or you can leave them overnight in the refrigerator in cold water.)

Combine the rice flours in a bowl.

Peel the daikon radish and shred them with the fine shredder attachment of a food processor, or by hand with a grater. You should end up with around 4 cups. Squeeze them out by hand and reserve the liquid.

Shred or julienne the carrot. Chop up the green onion and optional coriander finely.

Drain and squeeze out the shiitake mushrooms and reserve the soaking liquid. Te the stems off the shiitake mushrooms and slice thinly.

Heat up a wok or frying pan with the sesame oil, and briefly stir fry the vegetables, white beans and edamame (but not the the daikon) just until it’s all coated with the oil and smelling very nice. You can add some red chili pepper flakes or chopped fresh chili pepper if you want some spiciness. Add the soy sauce, stir around a bit and take off the heat.

Dissolve the miso in the mushroom soaking liquid.

Stir the daikon into the rice flours. Add the mushroom soaking liquid with the dissolved miso. Add the sautéed vegetables. Add just enough of the reserved daikon liquid until the batter like a very thick pancake batter (it shouldn’t be liquid-runny, but rather heavy).

Lightly oil your mold. Pour in the batter. Put the mold in the steamer. Here’s how the batter looks in the mold:

daikonmochi1.jpg

Steam (don’t forget to add more water if the steamer is running dry!) for 1 hour or it’s firm to the touch in the middle. Take the mold out of the steamer and let cool, then refrigerate, covered, overnight. Here’s how the cake looks un-molded:

daikonmochi2.jpg

Take out the cold cake, and cut with a sharp, wet knife inti squares. You can just cut off as much as you want to use at one time. Fry the squares in a little vegetable oil until golden brown on both sides.

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Optionally brush the surface with a little soy sauce or hoisin sauce, or dip in some vinegar-soy sauce when eating.

The much faster method

Equipment needed: A frying pan (no steamer, mold, etc), lid

If you are thinking to yourself, Steamer? Mold? Steam 1 hour? Refrigerate overnight? No way! - there is a much easier and faster method. Just drop tablespoons of the batter onto a hot oiled frying pan, lower the heat to low, put a lid on, and steam-fry until the bottoms are a golden brown. Turn over and repeat on the other side. This only takes about 10-12 minutes, and tastes just as good, even if they aren’t the traditional square shape.

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If you are making the cakes with this method, you might consider halving the recipe. Extra cakes freeze very well, either after frying or before. (I prefer to fry them so they can just be defrosted quickly in a toaster oven or a dry frying pan.)

Notes

  • A mixture of regular and glutinous or sweet rice flour (or mochiko) is used here for the combination of denseness and gooey-ness. You can find both at an Asian or Chinese grocery. If you are in Japan, you’ll want to use joushinko (上新粉)and shiratamako (白玉粉).
  • The key to converting this from the traditional omnivore version is to add as much umami as possible to the batter. This is accomplished here by adding shiitake, the soaking liquid, miso, soy sauce and sesame oil. Stir-frying the vegetables briefly also adds flavor.
  • Try substituting natto for the edamame or the white beans. You can try other beans here too. The beans are there to add protein and texture.
  • You can add more or other shredded or finely chopped vegetables to this.
  • If you use gluten-free soy sauce and miso, this will be gluten-free.
  • For a traditional omnivore version, try this recipe on Epicurious.

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And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.

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Re: Vegan Turnip Cake or Daikon Radish Cake

Thanks so much for this! I tried veganizing a turnip cake recipe last week, and it was the biggest failure my kitchen has ever seen. It was probably because I tried to make my own rice flour, which explains my cake's gloopiness, but not it's less-than-savory taste.

I'll be trying this soon. You're recipes have filled my bentos and my tummy for a few months now, and I'm really grateful for the posts.

Re: Vegan Turnip Cake or Daikon Radish Cake

Just wondering about a couple of substitutions -- can I use all sweet rice flour, or will that result in too much stickiness? Also, can I substitute regular radishes for the daikon (or another vegetable for that matter)?

I'm just trying to stop myself from heading to the Asian grocer this weekend -- I always end up leaving with WAY more than I intended...But, if I have to, I have to, right? ^__~

Re: Vegan Turnip Cake or Daikon Radish Cake

I did try it with all sweet rice flour, and it was well, quite goopy. When I tried the 'quick' method (basically little patties fried in the frying pan) they spread all over the place! So I think the mixture works better, or maybe even just the non-sweet rice flour. As for using radishes...if you can manage to grate that amount, sure! You will surely need a food processor though I think for that.

Re: Vegan Turnip Cake or Daikon Radish Cake

Thanks for the insight, Maki! I think you just twisted my arm into going to the Asian grocer this weekend. ^__^

Re: Vegan Turnip Cake or Daikon Radish Cake

I make salmon patties in my double-sided burger grill, so I think I'll use that when I try version 2. And try natto for the first time, since I've wanted to try it for its health effects (bones, heart, anti-stroke), but was scared off by the stories that westerners don't usually like the taste that much. If you have other recipes that natto can be used in, but have other flavors to offset the taste, then I might be able to use natto even more frequently. Thanks!

Re: Vegan Turnip Cake or Daikon Radish Cake

Hi Maki, thanks so much for posting this recipe! This is one of my all-time favorite dim sum and I never thought I could have it in a bento from home. Looking forward to trying it soon.

About to post my first bento to the Flickr pool for the Bento Challenge...!

Re: Vegan Turnip Cake or Daikon Radish Cake

this sounds yummy! can't wait to make this =)

Re: Vegan Turnip Cake or Daikon Radish Cake

Thanks for the recipe, I'm going to try it for Lunar New Year. I really like the way the steamed version is, but don't have a steamer, so I'm trying to think of how to rig up a soup pot and baking pan to do this. How big is the mold you used for the steamed version? Thanks for the vegan versions of Asian recipes. Anything with daikon is a winner in my book!

Vegan Turnip Cake!

I can't thank you enough for posting a vegan version of this recipe. I can't wait to go shopping so I can try it out this weekend!

Re: Vegan Turnip Cake or Daikon Radish Cake

I was thinking of giving this a go today but there are a couple of things I'm not sure about. Firstly I have a steamer but it's a standalone electric one so I'm going to try a bain marie in the oven. Secondly I only have normal rice flour - so I'm not sure if I can just get away with using that. Is there an alternative to sweet rice flour that I can use?

Re: Vegan Turnip Cake or Daikon Radish Cake

Hey Maki,
Love your recipes. In this particular recipe, are the edamame supposed to be cooked or raw? I would guess cooked, but just to be safe ;-)
I am going to fry them in coconut oil - yum!
Gambarimas ;-)

Re: Vegan Turnip Cake or Daikon Radish Cake

Hi GL, I guess I didn't state that clearly but I do mean preboiled edamame (if you have frozen edamame though, you can just use the beans as-is since they are already boiled). I've added the 'boiled' to the ingredients listing.

Re: Vegan Turnip Cake or Daikon Radish Cake

This is awesome! I haven't eaten these in a while (since I was little) and I was beginning to miss them. My dad would always make up a batch for me when my mother wasn't home and we'd eat them together with hoisein sauce, delicious! I think I'm craving them now!
I'll try this out for myself, thank you for posting this up!

Re: Vegan Turnip Cake or Daikon Radish Cake

I've just finally tried this today, and though the texture are quite different from what I'd normally get from my favorite cantonese restaurant (probably because my ingredients proportion are all wrong since i don't have any measuring cups and stuff), it tastes great, so this goes to my list of regular bento food

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