Chinese New Year is one of these holidays that my family celebrates religiously in which we adopt Chinese traditions and superstitions. This is the holiday where I look forward to share with you my mother's recipes. I have to admit that I still haven't perfected the art of making Chinese New Year sweet treats or savoury cakes. This is also the time of the year where I have sweet treats with my colleagues, especially my Chinese friends who either of their parents can't make traditional home-cooked dishes or can't afford to go back home to see their parents. I'm quite fortunate to spend quality time with my family.
Days before the New Year, it is somewhat a tradition to exchange sweet baked goods with family friends. These sweet foods symbolize sweet life for the New Year. You are welcome to have a look at my past Chinese New Year recipes like Fa Gao (Prosperity Cake) and Nian Gao (Chinese New Year cake). We have received quite an abundant amount of baked goods this year, here are a few Chinese treats that I haven't shared with you in the past:
Pai Char/Qiao Guo - Flattened and twisted deep fried bean curd dough with black sesame seeds.
You Jiao - Deep fried sweet dumplings commonly stuffed with coconut and peanuts, these resembles like a purse which means fortune.
Turnip cake or daikon cake is one of the first dishes that most people would associate with Chinese New Year. This is my all-time favourite savoury cakes. Once cooked, they are soft filled with a generous amount of julienned turnip with a bit of dried shrimp and Chinese sausage to add a hint of saltiness. With the leftovers, we pan fried them until golden to give a slight crunch on the outside but still soft in the middle.
As usual, my mother never gives me the exact quantity to her recipes. She mostly eyeballs her recipes. One tip for a good turnip cake is the ratio of turnip to rice flour must be 6 to 1. For every pound of rice flour, one must use about 6 lbs of turnip.
Makes 2 8-inch sized cakes
Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Steaming Time: 25 mins
1 long turnip (about 1 1/2 lbs), julienned
1/4 lb ground pork or pork loin, thinly cubed
1/4 cup dried shrimp
1/2 cup pickled cabbage
2 celery stalks
2 Chinese sausages
1 pack (1 lb) plain rice flour
about 5 cups warm water
1 tsp salt
Chopped green onions for garnish
1. Thinly chopped dried shrimp, pickled cabbage, celery stalks, and Chinese sausages.
2. In a skillet, add julienned turnip and 1/2 cup of water, enough water to cover the bottom of the skillet. Heat over medium-high heat, cook turnip until soft, about 5 mins.
3. Add in pork, chopped dried shrimp, pickled cabbage, celery stalks, Chinese sausages. Cook for 5 mins until pork is fully cooked.
4. Meanwhile, prepare flour mixture. Combine rice flour with warm water. Add in salt. The mixture should be liquid, not thick or gooey. It should thinly coat the back of a spoon similar to a custard or a thin béchamel sauce. Add in 1/2 cup of water if necessary.
5. Transfer turnip filling with its liquid to the flour mixture, mix until combined. Lightly oil two 9-inch round cake pans. Fill batter to the cake pans.
6. Steam for 25 minutes or until firm. Garnish with green onions.
7. Slice cake into rectangles. Serve warm.
Gung Hay Fat Choy!
Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Bonne année lunaire!
Happy Chinese New Year!
May the year of the Dragon brings you and your family good health, wealth, happiness and prosperity.