Mom’s radish cake and water chestnut cake
My mom makes radish cakes (lor bak go) several times a year, mostly during the cold months (apparently when daikon radishes are at their best). They are made from grated daikon radishes and rice flour as the base, and a number of ‘fillings’; usually Chinese sausage, smoked dried pork, dried shrimp, dried mushrooms and white pepper (essential). For me, she leaves out the pork. I told her she could leave out the dried shrimp too (the mushrooms are my favorite part) but she insist that it gives it the (Chinese) flavor. She cooks the fillings first and wilts the radish in a pot before mixing in a blend of rice flours. Then the batter is steamed till set. The particular ratio of ingredients I never took notes on and never really tried to make on my own. I’ve only seen her do 10lbs of radish at a time. The restaurant versions can’t compare. I don’t cook much Chinese food (nearly never), the only Chinese food I really want would be my mom’s cooking.
After letting the cake cool, you can slice it and fry it up (which is the best/only way to eat it). Browning it brings out the spiciness of the radish and white pepper, eating it fresh, it’s kind of mushy and somewhat blander. And this way there’s never any stale leftovers.
This is a water chestnut cake (ma tai go); it’s made from water chestnut starch, sugar, water and fresh water chestnuts (for crunch) and it’s also steamed. For some reason the water chestnut starch sets up very gelatinous and has a distinct nutty grassy flavor. And can also be browned on the stove top, but I prefer it plain. I guess I should ask my mom for the measurements to this one, it has very few ingredients and seems pretty easy.
(fresh water chestnut, still has mud on it, needs to be cleaned and peel)
Countdown to Chinese New Year! Tomorrow is going to be the new year’s eve dinner, I already saw my mom soaking the sea cucumber. Plan to take plenty of pics.