Monday, January 3, 2011

Chinese-style steamed carrot cake (萝卜糕)

萝卜糕 is made with grated radish and rice flour.  But, this common breakfast snack is widely-known as steamed carrot cake rather than steamed "radish" cake.  Other similar varieties are steamed yam cake and steamed pumpkin cake .  The ingredients and method for making these steamed cakes are pretty much the same, except that you replaced the "grated radish" with chopped yam or pumpkin.  

For this carrot cake, I added a thin layer of mashed pumpkin before steaming.  I happened to have a small piece of pumpkin left in the fridge, so just add it in.  I did not write down the exact amount of ingredients used.  You can always adjust the ingredients and their respective amount to suit your own preference.  The most important is the amount of rice flour and water.  As a general guide, I used around 3 to 3.5 times the water to rice flour.  For example, for 200g of rice flour, I will add approximately 600ml water or a little more for a softer texture.  In addition, I will use a little water for stir-frying/simmering the other ingredients, before adding to the flour mixture.

List of common ingredients used for carrot/pumpkin/yam cake:

* Grated radish, chopped pumpkin or chopped yam.
* Dried Chinese mushroom - soak in water and slice (Dried mushrooms adds more aroma, compared to fresh shitake mushrooms.  Reserve water for soaking mushroom to mix with rice flour.
* Chinese sausage - remove plastic wrap and slice thinly.
* Dried shrimps - soak and chop.  Reserve water for soaking dried shrimps to mix with rice flour.
* In addition to rice flour, I usually add a little corn flour to the rice flour solution.  Corn flour gives a smooth texture to the steamed cake (approximately 1 tbsp corn flour for 200g of rice flour used)
* Fried shallot - leave the sliced shallot to dry in the open for an hour before frying to get crispy fried shallots.  Use shallot oil to prepare carrot cake and reserve some to brush over the top to retain moisture in cake.  Sprinkle the fried shallots as a garnish.  
* Five-spice powder.  This adds aroma to the carrot cake.  

1) Mix rice flour, corn flour, water, salt and five-spice powder.  Set aside.
2) Use shallot oil to stir-fry the Chinese mushrooms, sausages and dried shrimps to release their aroma.
3) Add grated radish/ chopped pumpkin/ chopped yam.  Cover wok and simmer for about 5 minutes to release aroma.
4) Pour in rice flour solution and stir until mixture thickens (about 3 to 5 minutes).
5) Pour into well-greased steaming pan, smooth the top with an oiled spatula (or spoon) and steam on high heat for 45 minutes to an hour.
6) Brush the top with shallot oil and garnish with fried shallot, chopped spring onion and chillies.

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