Turnip Cake: How To Make Chinese Turnip Cake

The turnip cake recipe comes from Chinese cuisine. A more appropriate name is the less widely used radish cake since Western-style turnips are not used in the dish. They usually use Chinese radish and plain rice flour. In Singapore, it is commonly known as carrot cake.

Called yum cha in Cantonese, turnip cake is generally cut into rectangular slices and often pan-fried before serving. Each pan-fried cake has a thin crunchy layer on the outside from frying and is soft on the inside. It is one of the main dishes found in Hong Kong and China’s dim sum cuisine as well as restaurants in overseas Chinatown. 

The Chinese turnip cake is a popular dim sum item and a Chinese holiday festive dish during the Chinese New Year. It is a savory rice cake that is filled with cured pork, daikon radish, mushrooms, and dried shrimp. It’s steamed and then pan-fried with a crispy crust to produce a soft texture.

Chinese Turnip Cake

  • Author: Romae Chanice Marquez
  • Recipe Category: Appetizer / Snacks
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Turnip cake consists of a steamed mixture of shredded turquoise, sticky rice flour, dried shrimp, pork sausage, and salted swine. Crispy and delicious, it a popular appetizer.

The whole preparation and cooking time is 1 hour and 30 minutes. This recipe is suitable for at least five servings. 

Photo credit: @mightyinthemitten / Instagram.com

Chinese Turnip Cake Ingredients

  • 10 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1kg daikon radishes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 Chinese sausages, finely diced
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 170g of rice flour
  • 4 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
  • sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • cilantro, finely chopped

Chinese Turnip Cake Instructions

Step 1: First, soak the mushrooms in hot water until they have softened for 30 minutes.

Step 2: Drain the mushrooms, and pinch any excess water gently. Dice the mushrooms thinly then set aside.

Step 3: Peel the radishes and grind them roughly. You can use a food processor for this step.

Step 4: Drop the radishes into a large pot and cover with cold water.

Step 5: Bring the pot to a boil, then lower to a gentle simmer. Cook the radishes until they are very tender, for about 45 minutes.

Step 6: Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan while the radishes are cooking.

Step 7: Next, cook the sausages for at least six minutes until they have softened and some of their fat is released.

Step 8: Add the sliced shallots. Next, you need to cook them until they soften. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool.

Step 9: Drain the radishes but don’t squeeze the liquid out. Put the cooked radishes back into the bowl.

Step 10: To the radishes, add the rice flour, cornflour, and sesame oil. Gently mix with a spoon.

Step 11: Add the radishes to the shallots and sausage mixture, along with the spring onions and shiitake mushrooms.

Step 12: Mix with pepper and salt. Mix until it all blends well.

Step 13: Use a 20×10 cm loaf pan or 20 cm round cake tin to steam the cake. Line tin with some baking paper of your choosing. Pour the mixture into the tin.

Step 14: Steam the cake before the cakes are set, and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, for 45 minutes to 1 hour. You can steam the cake in a metal steamer, in a steam oven, or in a big roasting pan.

Step 15: Next, put the tin in a large roasting pan (or whatever you choose) and pour a little warm water into the pan until it comes halfway up the cake tin sides.

Step 16: Make sure that the cake tin that you are using is watertight. Don’t use a springform container. Otherwise, water can get into the container. Tightly cover the roasting pan with some foil and cook at 150°C (300°F) in the oven.

Step 17: When baked, leave the cake to cool completely, then refrigerate to set for at least a few hours.

Step 18: To cook, heat up some vegetable oil over medium to high heat in a non-stick frying pan. Unmould the cake and cut it into thick slices. Fry the slices in batches until each side is softly golden.

Step 19: Sprinkle with freshly chopped cilantro, then top with soy sauce and sriracha.

Chinese Turnip Cake Additional Information

  • Fried turnip cake is oily and contains 50 percent more calories than steamed turnip cake. 100 grams of fried turnip cake contains 130 kilocalories and 540 milligrams of salt, while steamed turnip cake contains 87 kilocalories and 430 milligrams of salt.
  • This dish will take 1 hour and 30 minutes to prepare.
  • This recipe will make enough for five servings.
  • The recommended serving size for either fried or steamed turnip cake is 50 grams or around 2 ounces, due to such a high salt content.

Image source: tasteasianfood.com

About Chinese Turnip Cake Recipe

Traditionally, Chinese turnip cakes are made in loaf tins, but it is best to consider making them simpler in round cake tins. Depending on which shape or size tin you are using, you may need to change the steaming time.


While the steamed turnip cakes can be eaten with soy sauce straight away, they are normally cooked again to add additional flavors. For example, when cooled, turnip cakes can be cut into rectangular pieces and then pan-fried until both sides are golden. It is served on the side with chili sauce and hoisin sauce.

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Featured Image: @foodjournal_mumbai / Instagram.com, @typicalterrine / Instagram.com