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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bánh Củ Cải Trắng (Daikon Radish Cake)

One of my favorite food bloggers is Andrea Nguyen.  She is a writer, a cooking teacher and the author of Into the Vietnamese Kitchen and  her recent  cookbook Asian Dumplings which was just published in September 2009.  I knew of her since the last couple years when I was in the middle of making Gỏi Đu Đủ Khô Bò Gan Cháy (Papaya Salad with Beef and Liver Jerky) and my  Beef didn't turn out like Beef Jerky at all.  So I searched the web to find the secret to making beef jerky, but I didn't find what I was looking for.  Subsequently, I discovered Andrea's blog, so I decided to email and ask her instead.  Surprisely, I received her reply immediately.  She's very good at answering anyone's questions and that make her a great cooking teacher, in my opinion.   Since then, we comunicated through emails; I followed her through her blogs and facebook.  I wanted to thank her for all her great recipes that she shared with everyone through her blogs so  I sent her a bag of our homegrown chili peppers.  I didn't expect it but she spent her time writing about it and posting pictures of my gift and my vegetable garden.  That was very thoughtful of her.  

So this post is really about one of my favorite dishes that I learned from her; it's Andrea Nguyen's delicious Daikon Radish Cake recipe.  I followed her recipe and only adjusted a little bit such as increasing the amount of lap xuong (chinese sausages) and dried shrimps.  I also prefer spicy vinegar soy sauce dip over oyster sauce or plain soy sauce.  I am sure her original recipe is great but I changed it a little bit to my liking.  The Daikon Radish Cake turned out beautifully and deliciously.  This Daikon Radish Cake tastes so good when it's still hot and crispy.  Just dip it in the spicy vinager soy sauce or your favorite sauce and and enjoy. Yummy!
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RECIPE:  Bánh Củ Cải Trắng (Daikon Radish Cake)
Luo Bo Gao
Serves 6 to 8 (makes 2 dumplings)
Luo bo gao is a dim sum dish made with daikon, or winter radish. Daikon is juicy like an apple, shaped like a large, white carrot, and has a smooth radish flavor. To make the batter for luo bo gao you need to cook the daikon, break it down, and mellow out its flavor while concentrating its essence. You can eat this fresh from the steamer, but it’s most popular sliced and lightly seared for a crispy skin.
For the Dumplings
2 cups white rice flour, preferably from China or Thailand
¼ cup wheat starch
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
10 to 12 small or medium dried shrimp, soaked in hot water to cover for 30 minutes
1 pound daikon radish
1 link Chinese pork sausage (la chang), chopped very fine (about ⅔ cup)
3 scallions, chopped fine

I used 2 chinese sausages and about 20 of medium dried shrimps

For Cooking and Serving
(I used vinegar soy sauce with hot sauce)
Grapeseed or other neutral oil to coat the cake pans and the skillet
Oyster sauce or hot sauce

(I used my steamer and 1 square cake pan)
2-inch-high steamer rack
Two 9-inch round cake pans
Pot large enough to hold both the rack and the cake pan when covered
1. Make the Batter: Combine the rice flour, wheat starch, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and set aside. Drain and finely chop the shrimp.

2. Peel the daikon and grate it through the small holes of your grater onto a kitchen towel. Bring together the ends of the cloth and twist to squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can into the bowl. Measure out the collected juices and add enough water to the juice to make 3½ cups.
My cooking assistant is my Mother-In-Law who is a great helper.
She used her hand to squeeze out the liquid instead using the kitchen towel. Three balls of daikon you see in the picture are 3 pounds of daikon after 
grated and squeezed out the liquid

3. Pour the daikon liquid into a medium pot. Add the grated daikon and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes. Mix in the sausage, scallions, and chopped shrimp, cover, and cook for 5 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Slowly add the rice flour mixture and whisk continuously until free of most large lumps. The batter will be thick and sticky and a little lumpy.

4. Steam the Dumplings: Place the steamer rack in the pot, add 1½ inches of water to the pot, and bring to a boil over high heat.

5. Brush both cake pans with a little oil and divide the batter between the 2 pans. Dip a spoon into cool water and use the back of the spoon to smooth out the surface of the batter.

6. Carefully place one of the filled pans on the steamer rack, cover, and steam for 40 minutes. The other filled pan should be covered and left sitting at room temperature while the first one cooks, or it can be cooked simultaneously in another pot.

7. Remove the pot from the heat. Carefully lift the pan out of the pot, place it on a folded kitchen towel, and allow the luo bo gao to cool to room temperature. Cook the other filled cake pan.

8. Unmold the luo bo gao and gently turn it onto a cutting board. Cut each dumpling into 8 equal slices. (Do not slice the luo bo gao if you are planning on serving it later. They can be refrigerated, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 days.
Slice and fry just before serving.)

9. When ready to serve, coat a large skillet with oil and heat over medium heat. Carefully place the slices of luo bo gao in the pan and cook until their bottoms are crispy and golden brown, about 4 minutes. Turn them over to brown the other sides. Serve with a side of oyster sauce or hot sauce.


  1. very detailed recipe. I will try it. Thanks.

  2. DELICIOUS. Just made this. Couldn't find Daikon radish so I substituted with rutabaga and it worked beautifully. I also substituted the wheat starch with corn flour.

  3. I love this cake and will try this week. I want to make sure I understand the instruction correctly. You grate the daikon,, squeeze the water out of it. Then put the grated and squeezed daikon (the 3 balls in your picture) back to its juice + water? Thanks

  4. Measure all the daikon juice + water = 3 1/2 cups
    Add 3 1/2 cups daikon juice mixture + squeezed grated daikon to the pot.
    I need to make this dish again and will update the post with better pictures. Have fun cooking!