The pumpkin plants have started to die back, exposing the large green fruits that were once hidden. August often feels like a time in limbo, halfway between summer and fall. The summer crops have truly just begun but the growth is slowing and the fall harvest is approaching.
This week's pick list:
- Lettuce Mix
- Summer Squash
- Green beans
- Spring onions
- Parsley, Cilantro, Dill, and Basil
- Pick your own flowers and tomatillos
Chinese Turnip Cake, adapted from vermillionroots.com
This recipe is based on the popular dim sum dish called "lo bak go", which is a savory cake usually made with grated daikon radish. I adapted the recipes from Woks of Life and Serious Eats by replacing daikon radish with turnips, adding carrots for sweetness and omitting meat ingredients to make it vegetarian. This cake is steamed and then usually pan-fried in slices to serve. The usual texture of a cake should not be expected as turnip cake has more of a pudding-like consistency, and the more turnips are used the softer it will be. Makes one 8 x 4-inch loaf.
1 lbs (450g or about 5 medium) turnips, grated
1/2 lbs (225g or about 3 medium) carrots, grated
3 shiitake mushrooms, diced into small pieces
2 stalks spring onions, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
Spring onions, chopped
Hot pepper, chopped
In a deep set pot over medium heat, cook turnips and carrots in 1/2 cup water, stirring occasionally, until they are soft, about 20 minutes. More water will be released by the turnips, and you'll want to cook the mixture down until it is only slightly wet and not swimming in liquid.
Stir in mushrooms and spring onions, followed by olive oil and light soy sauce. Turn off heat and set aside for a few minutes to cool slightly.
In the meantime, mix together flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the dry mix to the wet ingredients in the pot and stir well to combine everything until you get a thick, sticky mixture. Let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes, then give it a final stir and transfer to a well-oiled 8 x 4-inch loaf pan.
Place the loaf pan in a steamer and steam over medium-high heat for 1 hour. Remove the pan from the steamer and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. When ready to serve, turn the pan over a cutting board to let the cake fall onto it. Slice into desired size.
Garnish with chopped spring onions, cilantro, and hot pepper, and serve with hoisin and Sriracha sauces.
While this is a delicious way to enjoy the cake, I prefer to pan-fry 1/2-inch thick slices until golden and crispy on both sides. And I find that refrigerating the steamed cake in the pan overnight helps it set better, so you can actually make the cake a day in advance and refrigerate until ready to eat. The cake stores for up to a week in the refrigerator. Pan-fry in slices to reheat.