Friday, June 14, 2024
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Brunei Town

Oriental turnip cakes

Hetty Lui McKinnon & Lisa Lin

THE WASHINGTON POST – This daikon cake is traditionally referred to as a turnip cake, on restaurant menus and in cookbooks. It is eaten during the Lunar New Year, said food blogger and cookbook author Irvin Lin.

Make Ahead: The rice cake must be steamed and refrigerated for at least four hours in advance of frying and serving.

It can be wrapped in plastic or transferred to an airtight container, and refrigerated for up to three days. Sliced, uncooked cakes can be frozen. Place them in an airtight container, with parchment or wax paper between the layers, and freeze for up to one month. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before pan-frying and serving.

Storage Notes: Refrigerate leftover pan-fried cakes for up to two days. Reheat in a skillet with a bit of oil.

Tsai Tao Kui. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

TSAI TAO KUI (TURNIP CAKE)
Active time: 45 mins;
Total time: Two hours, plus at least four hours of refrigerating time
Serving: Five to six

INGREDIENTS
Five medium dried shiitake mushrooms
One-quarter cup small or medium dried shrimp
Two pounds daikon radish, peeled and coarsely grated (about six cups)
One-and-a-half cups water, divided
Three tablespoons vegetable oil or another neutral oil, divided, plus more as needed
Three-quarter cup chopped shallots
One scallion, sliced, white and light green parts separated from dark green
One-and-three-quarter cups rice flour (not glutinous)
Two teaspoons cornstarch
One teaspoon fine salt
Three-quarter teaspoon ground white pepper
Cilantro leaves, for serving (optional)
Soy sauce, for serving (optional)
Sesame oil, for serving (optional)
Hot chilli sauce or sriracha, for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS
Place the shiitakes and the shrimp in separate heatproof bowls. Pour enough boiling water into each bowl to submerge its contents. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, lift the mushrooms out of the water: If the shiitakes aren’t completely hydrated, return to the water and check in 10 minutes.

Transfer the mushrooms to a cutting board, cut off the stems and discard. Chop the caps into one-quarter-inch pieces. Once the shrimp has rehydrated, drain and coarsely chop them.

In a large pot over high heat, combine the daikon with half cup of water and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently to ensure the radish on the bottom of the pot doesn’t burn, until most of the moisture has evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes. A little moisture at the bottom is okay. Remove from the heat.

In a large, clean skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat, combine two tablespoons of oil, the mushrooms, shrimp, shallots and the white and light green parts of the scallion.

Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and shallots are softened, four to five minutes. Transfer to the pot with the cooked radish.

In a medium bowl and using a silicone spatula, mix together the rice flour and cornstarch with the remaining one cup of water, stirring until a thick, smooth slurry forms.

Scrape the liquid into the pot with the radish and the mushroom-shrimp mixture, and season with salt and pepper.

Stir the ingredients together until thoroughly combined, and return the pot to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the ingredients form a solid mass that will become increasingly harder to stir, scraping the sides and bottom of the pot as you go, about five minutes. Remove from the heat.

Line a nine – or 10-inch bamboo steamer basket with two to three layers of cheesecloth.

Scrape and spoon the paste into the lined steamer, pressing down with a silicone spatula to smooth the top into an even layer.

Place a wok or skillet, with a diameter wide enough to accommodate your steamer, over medium-high heat, fill with just enough water to reach the bottom rim of the steamer, and bring to a very gentle simmer, decreasing the heat as needed.

Place the steamer basket in the wok or skillet, cover with a lid and steam over simmering water until a chopstick or skewer inserted in the middle of the daikon cake comes out mostly clean, 45 minutes to one hour – a wider steamer will yield a thinner cake, which will steam faster.

Check the wok or skillet every 15 minutes to ensure there’s enough water for steaming, and replenish and adjust the heat as necessary.

After the cake has been steamed, set the covered steamer basket aside on a plate and let cool completely. Then, refrigerate for at least four hours and up to three days.

When ready to fry, remove the cake from the bamboo steamer and peel off the cheesecloth. Slice the cake into 10 to 12 pieces about half-inch thick. Some pieces may have rounded edges.

In a small skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining one tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Fry the pieces until golden brown on both sides, three to four minutes per side, adding more oil to the skillet as necessary.

Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with the reserved scallion greens and/or cilantro leaves and serve hot, with a sauce made from a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, and/or chilli sauce or sriracha on the side.

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