Home-made Lo Bak Go – Chinese Turnip Cake

Popular and savory Chinese turnip cake made from scratch with basic ingredients and cooked in two ways.

When I was spending my gap year in New Zealand, one thing I missed the most is the Chinese turnip cake. It’s crisp on the outside. And when you take a bite, the slight sweetness and umami melt in your mouth. But there were not many dim sum restaurants in the area, so I decided to make my own. 

What is Lo Bak Go (Chinese turnip cake) and how to make steamed and pan-fried Lo Bak Go from scratch

It took me a couple times to figure out how to make turnip cake. But just like dumplings, once you nail it, you can make in bulk, store in the freezer, and eat whenever you want. 

So today, I will be sharing with you how to make Chinese turnip cake at home. If you love dim sums, you can’t miss this one.

What is Lo Bak Go?

Lo Bak Go, the Chinese turnip cake or white radish cake, is one of the most popular dim sum dishes around the world. Lo Bak means radish and Go refers to cake, just like in Ma Lai Go

The cake originated in the Chao Shan area in Guangdong, Southern China. It was first named 菜粿. Because in Mandarin, 菜 pronounces the same as 彩, it then became a symbol of 好彩头, meaning good luck. That’s why many families regard it as a must-have on their New Year’s menu.

What is Lo Bak Go (Chinese turnip cake) and how to make steamed and pan-fried Lo Bak Go from scratch

How to make Lo Bak Go?

Ingredients

What is Lo Bak Go (Chinese turnip cake) and how to make steamed and pan-fried Lo Bak Go from scratch
  • Turnip (White radish), medium-sized, about 250 grams
  • Rice flour, 100 grams
  • Tapioca flour, 10 grams (optional)
  • Cornflour, 10 grams
  • Salt, 0.5 tsp
  • Chinese sausage, 1 medium
  • Oyster sauce, 1 tbsp
  • Shiitake mushrooms, 5 medium

Notes: 

  • You don’t need to be too precise on the numbers of supplementary ingredients. As long as the proportion of flour and water is right, you will have perfect Lo Bak Go.
  • If you are a vegan, feel free to leave the Chinese sausage and dried shrimps out. Replace oyster sauce with a vegan one.

Step-by-step instructions

Preparations

  • Soak shiitake mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes until they soften completely. Remove the stems and dice.
  • Soak dried shrimps for 10 minutes. Wash and dice. 
  • Chop the Chinese sausage into small pieces.
  • Rinse scallions and dice finely. Separate the white stems from the green. Set aside for later. 
What is Lo Bak Go (Chinese turnip cake) and how to make steamed and pan-fried Lo Bak Go from scratch
  • Wash and peel the white turnip. Slice it finely.

Note:

I use a peeler for the first time. And the slices turn out to be too wide. So I chopped them with a knife again. And I suggest to cut them directly from the beginning:)

What is Lo Bak Go (Chinese turnip cake) and how to make steamed and pan-fried Lo Bak Go from scratch

If you like your cake to be less fibrous, you can also use a grater.

Making the batter

  1. On a pan, bring one cup of water to boil and add the turnip slices. Cook for 2 minutes and transfer the turnip to a plate and the remaining water to a bowl. Set aside for the water to cool down to room temperature.
What is Lo Bak Go (Chinese turnip cake) and how to make steamed and pan-fried Lo Bak Go from scratch
  1. In a bowl, mix rice flour with 0.5 cups of water, cornflour, tapioca flour(optional), salt, oyster sauce, and the turnip water (about 0.5 cup). Stir and mix evenly. 

Tip: Instead of adding water to the flour mixture, we use the boiled “turnip juice”. It will make the Lo Bak Go extra sweet and fragrant.

  1. On a pan, add one teaspoon of cooking oil and white stems of the scallions. Stir-fry till fragrant.
  2. Add the diced mushroom, Chinese sausage and dried shrimps to the pan and sautée for 3 minutes.
What is Lo Bak Go (Chinese turnip cake) and how to make steamed and pan-fried Lo Bak Go from scratch
  1. Add turnip. Sautée for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the flour mixture and stir evenly for 1 minute. Then transfer to a mold.

Tip: The mixture may seem less liquid than regular cake batter. But the steaming process will extract water from the turnip, making the batter moist. Adding too much water will make the Lo Bak Go too soft.

What is Lo Bak Go (Chinese turnip cake) and how to make steamed and pan-fried Lo Bak Go from scratch

Steaming the batter

  1. Put the mold in a steamer and steam for 45 minutes.
  2. Take it out and let it cool down for 10 minutes before removing it from the mold. 
  3. You can either eat it right away or leave it to make pan-fried Lo Bak Go. 

How to cook Chinese turnip Cake?

The two most popular ways to cook Lo Bak Go are steaming and pan-frying. If you make a large pan of white turnip cake, you can store the leftover in the fridge and cook it the way you want later.

And here’s how to cook Lo Bak Go two-way:

Steamed Chinese white turnip cake

What is Lo Bak Go (Chinese turnip cake) and how to make steamed and pan-fried Lo Bak Go from scratch
  1. Defreeze the cake in advance. 
  2. In a steamer or a pot, bring 5 cups of water to boil. Place the Lo Bak Go in your steaming set and steam for 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer them to a plate and enjoy.

Tip: There are different sauces to serve with steamed Lo Bak Go. 

The most common ones are:

  • Light soy-sauce
  • Chilli garlic sauce
  • XO sauce

Or you can eat directly without any sauce to taste its original flavor.

How to pan-fry Chinese white turnip cake

What is Lo Bak Go (Chinese turnip cake) and how to make steamed and pan-fried Lo Bak Go from scratch
  1. Defreeze the cake in advance.
  2. Chop up green scallions finely.
  3. On a pan, heat 1 teaspoon of cooking oil over medium-high heat. 
  4.  Because of the starch, Lo Bak Go can stick to the pan while cooking. So it’s better to use a non-sticky pan. If you don’t have one, make sure you coat the pan evenly with cooking oil.
  5. When the oil starts to smoke, add Lo Bak Go to the pan and reduce the heat to medium.
  6. Let the cakes sit for at least 30 seconds. Flip to the other side and repeat until both sides are golden brown.
  7. Transfer them to a plate and sprinkle scallions on them. Enjoy!

Have you tried making Lo Bak Go?

If you have, don’t forget to tell me about it. Also, feel free to leave your thoughts or questions in the comment!

Chinese turnip cake

Chinese Turnip Cake - Lo Bak Go

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Savory and slightly sweet Chinese turnip cake recipe from scratch and cooked two-way

Ingredients

  • Turnip (White radish), medium-sized, about 250 grams
  • Rice flour, 100 grams
  • Tapioca flour, 10 grams (optional)
  • Cornflour, 10 grams
  • Salt, 0.5 tsp
  • Chinese sausage, 1 medium
  • Oyster sauce, 1 tbsp
  • Shiitake mushrooms, 5 medium
  • Water, 0.5 cups

Instructions

Preparation:

  1. Soak shiitake mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes until they soften completely. Remove the stems and dice.
  2. Soak dried shrimps for 10 minutes. Wash and dice. 
  3. Chop the Chinese sausage into small pieces. 
  4. Wash and peel the white turnip. Slice it finely.


Making the batter

  1. On a pan, bring one cup of water to boil and add the turnip slices. Cook for 2 minutes and transfer the turnip to a plate and the remaining water to a bowl. Set aside for the water to cool down to room temperature.
  2. In a bowl, mix rice flour with 0.5 cups of water, cornflour, tapioca flour(optional), salt, oyster sauce, and the turnip water (about 0.5 cups). Stir and mix evenly. 
  3. Add the diced mushroom, Chinese sausage and dried shrimps to the pan and sautée for 3 minutes.
  4. Add turnip. Sautée for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the flour mixture and stir evenly for 1 minute. Then transfer to a mold.


Steaming the batter

  1. Put the mold in a steamer and steam for 45 minutes.
  2. Take it out and let it cool down for 10 minutes before removing it from the mold. 
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 177Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 568mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 5g

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