Friday, September 19, 2008

Mom's Recipes: Bánh Củ Cải (Turnip Cake)

**Sept. 20/08. Correction: For the recipe, I halved the ingredients except for the daikon. So it should be 500 g (about 1 medium daikon).

Bánh củ cải (turnip cake) is not the most fitting as the first of my mom's recipes because it's Chinese. It is fitting, however, as in I had a hankering for it and my mom was happy to deliver! I asked my mom whether this was something she ate in Vietnam. Yes, but it's not something that her family made at home. Rather, she said she had it once in a while when Chinese relatives offered some to her family.

Bánh củ cải is a dim sum dish that I never order at dim sum because I eat my mom's! Củ cải refers to daikon in Vietnamese. My mom has had a version with taro. This "cake" is steamed and can be eaten as is, but I like it best cut into pieces and fried. My sister and I will put a bit of soy sauce on it, or preferably Maggi sauce.

Bánh Củ Cải (Turnip Cake) - for 1 cake
My mom has tweaked the recipe herself, but what's really important is the rice flour mixture. It requires a ratio of 100 g flour to 1-1/2 cup of water. The rest she just eyes it. I wrote down the recipe as my mom made it but it can be altered to taste: less pork, more shrimp, etc.

* 1 medium daikon - about 500 g, peeled and sliced (not too thinly so they keep their shape in the cake)
* 1 small onion, chopped
* 100 g ground pork
* 100 g shrimp, coarsely chopped (dried shrimp can be used instead)
* 1-½ tsp salt
* ½ tsp pepper
* 200 g rice flour
* 3 cups water

Line a 9" cake pan with aluminium foil and slightly coat with oil to prevent sticking.
Saute onion until soft in a big pot. Add the ground pork and shrimp.
Season with half the salt and all the pepper.
Once the mixture is cooked, add the daikon.
Add the remaining salt. Re-adjust seasoning to taste. (It can be slightly underseasoned if you like eating it with soy sauce.)
Once the daikon has softened, add the 1-1/2 cup water.
Meanwhile, to make the flour mixture: Mix the rice flour with 1 cup water until there are no more lumps. Add another 1/2 cup water and mix.
When the water has heated up, pour the rice flour mixture and mix. The heat should not be too high - around medium - to prevent lumps.
The mixture should be on the thick side - no runny liquid. Place the mixture into the oiled cake pan. Smooth out the surface.
Steam the cake in a steamer for 40 minutes. Make sure the cake is cooked through. (If you don't have a steamer, you could probably place the cake in a hot water bath and bake but my mom has never tried this.)

Daikon roots, whole or sliced.

Oiled and lined 9" cake pan.

Daikon mixture with pork and shrimp.

Pouring flour mixture.

The mixture is ready when it is rather thick.

Filling the cake pan with mixture and smoothing surface.

Cooked bánh củ cải (turnip cake).

Bánh củ cải can be eaten as is or fried up. If you want to eat it fried, let the cake cool overnight or until the cake has firmed up. Slice the cake into pieces and pan fry it. Serve with soy sauce or Maggi sauce.

Fried and simply heated up pieces.


Wandering Chopsticks said...

I made this once with turnips instead of daikon. It tasted pretty good. Will have to try it again with your mom's suggestion of pork and shrimp. I'd probably like it better. :)

Miss.Adventure said...

I looked on the internet (incl. your site) and it seems everyone calls this turnip cake. I've never made it with turnips but I'm guessing it's similar?

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Turnips are a little stronger in flavor, less watery than daikon. I just used them because I came across some at the farmers' market and decided to use them. I should revisit that recipe though b/c that was early on in blogging. I think my cooking skills have improved since then.

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craftysanderella said...

Thank you for showing how to make turnip cakes. Your pictures are very helpful!