Traditionally, Lo Bak Ko (Radish cake) is “must-have” food item during Chinese New Year due to the special auspicious meaning attached to it. In Chinese, the word for cake (糕) is a homophobe for “rising” (高) so eating it will ensure a rising career, rising education, rising wealth, etc. (步步高升）😉 In the Hokkien dialect, the word for white radish (菜頭) is a homophone for “good fortune” (好彩頭). So, doubly auspicious !!
Radish cake (with main ingredients being white radish and rice flour) is also eaten throughout the year and is a very popular yum cha item. It is usually made with just white (daikon) and cut into rectangular slices and 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 also a common street food snack and tastes delicious when fried with chai por (preserved vegetable) and eggs.
During Chinese New Year, the humble radish cake is greatly enhanced to an upmarket, luxury version with addition of loads of dried scallop, dried prawn, Chinese sausage, mushroom, xo sauce, etc.
500 gm radish (cut half into thin strips, half into 1 cm thick strips) Note: Grate radish if you prefer a smoother texture.
150 gm rice flour
75 gm cornflour
50 gm wheat starch
1/2 tbsp tapioca flour
275 ml water
1.5 tbsp oil
1/4 strip of cured meat (blanched, then chopped into cubes)
1 Chinese sausage (blanched, the chopped into cubes)
3 tbsp (30 gm) dried prawn (soaked, drained, reserve soaking water)
3 tbsp (30 gm) dried scallop (cooked in water till soft,drained, reserve water)
1 tbsp fried shallot
1/4 strip (30 gm) of red sugar (this will help neutralise the strong radish odour)
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 tbsp oyster sauce
Lots of white pepper
Splash of cooking wine (optional)
Brush the container with a little sesame oil
1. Cut radish into strips; half in thin strips, half in 1 cm thick strips. If you prefer a smoother texture, grate the radish.
2. Soak dried prawn in hot water. Chop coarsely.
3. Blanch sausage & cured meat for 5 mins. Cut into small cubes.
4. Boil dried scallop in 2 cups of water until soft. Drain and reserve liquid.
5. Mix all the flours in a bowl. Add water and stir into a thick paste. Add oil and mix well.
6. Heat pan, add scallop and fry till dry. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and fry till fragrant and golden. Remove to a plate.
7. Add dried prawn, sausage, cured neat and shallot. Fry till fragrant. Splash a little cooking wine (I didn’t add cooking .wine due to low alcohol tolerance). Remove to a plate.
8. Fry radish for a few minutes. Add sausage, cured neat, dried prawn and scallop. Mix well.
9. Add red sugar and 350 ml of reserved dried prawn and scallop liquid. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Red sugar will help neutralise the bitterness (slight) in the radish.
10. Add seasoning – salt, oyster sauce and white pepper. Bring to a boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Turn off heat. Leave to cool for a few minutes.
11. Stir to mix the flour mixture and add. Stir well to combine. Turn on the heat and stir until thickened.
12. Grease a container with sesame oil. Fill with radish mixture. Smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining fried meat, prawn and scallop mixture on top.
13. Steam at high heat for an hour. Test with a skewer. The Lo Bak Ko is cooked if the skewer comes out clean.
14. Leave to set in the fridge.
15. Cut into thick slices or cubes and shallow fry in oil until slightly crispy. Stack them high for extra good luck 😉 !
16. Alternatively, cut thick slices and steam. To serve, sprinkle green and fried onion and chilli on top.
Note: Leftovers can be wrapped in cling film and store in the freezer. Lo Bak Ko freezes well. Steam or fry to serve.