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Turnip Cake/Radish Cake (Chinese New Year)

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Turnip Cake (aka radish cake) is a must-eat snack during Chinese New Year traditionally. You also easily find it at many dim sum restaurants through out the year though.

Chinese New Year Turnip Cake

Normally we don’t have any holidays during Chinese New Year season in Australia. As for this year, Chinese New Year coincidentally falls on the same day as Australia Day – 26 January. Fantastic ! We’ll get one day off for celebration. In the meantime, I start to make some Chinese cakes for this special season. The first one is my most favorite, Turnip Cake (aka radish cake).

You can easily find this delicious savory cake served in Chinese restaurants throughout the year. But there’s also a custom to eat this cake on New Year's Day as a symbol of prosperity and rising fortunes. That’s a popular way of thinking in Chinese community anyway.

On top of the traditional ingredients, I added one more secret ingredient to make this radish cake even more delicious. Yes, it's salted radish. It will add more texture too.

Chinese New Year Turnip Cake Ingredients
Left bottom: salted radish

Update: If you have an electric pressure cooker, Instant Pot, you may take a look at this radish cake Instant Pot recipe with video tutorial.

Turnip Cake/Radish Cake Recipe

(Printable recipe)

Course: Steamed, Snack
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep time:
Cook time:
Yield: 2 to 3 serves

Turnip Cake/Radish Cake

  • 1 kg Chinese white turnip (radish/daikon)
  • 170 gm rice flour
  • 4 Tbsp wheat starch (澄麵)
  • 40 gm Chinese sausage (臘腸)
  • 45 gm Chinese bacon (臘肉)
  • 55 gm Chinese dried shrimps
  • 60 gm salted radish
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 3/4 cup unsalted chicken broth
  • pinch of white pepper

Chinese New Year Turnip Cake Procedures

  1. Blanch Chinese sausage and Chinese bacon in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes for cleaning and easy chopping. Drain well and finely diced. Peel the turnip and grate into thick strips. Soak and rinse dried shrimps. Coarsely chop them (if you buy smaller ones, you don’t need to chop them then.) Soak salted radish, rinse well and finely chop.
  2. In a big bow, mix the rice flour with wheat flour well.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick wok, sauté Chinese sausage and Chinese bacon dices over medium heat. Toss in dried shrimps and salted radish, continue to sauté until aromatic (see picture 1). Set aside.
  4. Add another 2 tablespoons of oil, sauté minced shallots. Add grated turnips. Sprinkle white pepper to taste. Pour in chicken broth, bring to a boil, cover and cook until tender and translucent (see picture 2). Remove from heat. Add rice flour and wheat starch, quickly combine all ingredients into a thick batter (see picture 3). Toss in sausages, bacons and shrimps and mix well (see picture 4).
  5. Pour the mixture into a greased pan, 8-inch round. Steam over high heat with cover, about 45 to 60 minutes. Check the water level and replenish, if necessary, with boiling water. Insert a chopstick into the middle part. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked through. Let cool and refrigerate with cover for 4 hours.
  6. Cut into pieces, fry both sides until golden brown. Serve hot, accompanying with chili sauce or with soy sauce. Yummy!

  • As for preparing Chinese bacon, I used to remove the layer of fat under the rind.
  • The Chinese bacon and sausage would be much easier to chop when they are hot.
  • When cooking turnip, some water would come out. This recipe calls for 3/4 cup of chicken broth. But if you find the turnip is too dry while cooking, you need to add some water into it. The principle is to make the batter thick but not too dry. If you can stir the batter without using any force, the cake would be just right after steaming. Practice makes things perfect anyway.
Tips on buying turnips:
  • Choose the heavy one. That means the turnip consists more water inside.
  • The skin of turnip should be thin and translucent. It’s a young one.
  • If you don’t cook the turnip on the day you buy, trim off the green stem on top. It can be kept for a few days more without growing old and sturdy.


  1. It looks very yummy!!

  2. To Sheri:
    Thanks. Glad to see you here. ^o^

  3. White turnip is "白萝卜“ in Mandarin and "Lobak putih" in BM? OH, I love white turnip cakes... yummilicious and I love it to be fried with some preserved salty veggies & scrambled eggs! i"m drooling... must go and find some after this! Tks for sharing!

  4. To Bits of Life 'n' Taste:
    Exactly, it's "白萝卜“!
    It has gone already. I have to cook another one for New Year's Day. :P

  5. My hubby bought a box of pre-cooked turnip cake from Hong Kong 奇华. We luv it! Pardon me for being so ignorant, I just learnt recently that this cake is specially prepared during CNY. ;) Gong Xi Fat Chai!

  6. To Food For Tots:
    I love products of 奇华 too. Did you try their 老婆餅?It's yummy.
    Yeah, Chinese people like eating all kinds of cakes 糕.
    Happy "Niu" Year ! 牛年快樂!

  7. Tried making turnip cake for the first time following your recipe. Taste is fabulous! Texture I didn't get it right. My turnip cake texture is a stiff and not as soft and light as it could be. How can I make it softer (less dense)? Should I add more water? I might have overcooked the radish in the wok. Love the taste though.

  8. @Lynx
    Most probably, your turnip hadn't got enough water inside, or not enough amount of water added in the process of cooking the batter. So the texture of your turnip cake was stiff.

    I can't tell how much water you should add because every turnip is very different.
    The consistency of cooked turnip with flour mixture should be looked like those in the picture 4 shown on the post.

  9. To Christine and lynx,

    I belive that your wheat flour serve the same role as cornstarch in my receipe, so by increasing thewhatt flour ratio to rice flour, you will able to it softer texture. That how I learn when I want to make mini steam lo bak go like in dim sum house.

  10. Hi lynx and Christine,

    I think your wheat starch same as the role of cornstarch in my receipe, so by increasing the ratio of the wheat starch can achieve the softer texture. That what when I tried to make my softer when serve the lo bak go in the little bowl like in the dim sum house. Try it!

  11. hi chirstine and lynx,

    i see you recipe using wheat starch which is serve with the same role as mine with cornstarch, so by increase the cornstarch ratio to rice flour, you can obtain a softer texture of lo bak go, just the the one u can eat in dim sum house, steam lo bak go in a little bowl. try it. of course u have to look after the water u have in the cooked turnip. like christine said. hope it's help

  12. @Christine@Christine's Recipes

    hi christine and lynx,

    i see your recipe using wheat starch which should serve the same role as mine using cornstarch. so but increasing the ratio of wheat starch to rice flour, can obtain a softer texture of lo bak go like the little steam one u can have in dim sum house. try it, hope it's help

  13. hi christine and lynx, i see your recipe using wheat starch which should serve as the same role of cornstarch in my recipe, so by increasing the ratio of wheat starch to rice flour, should able to obtain the softer texture of lo bak go, like the one u can have it in dim sim house, steam in a little bowl! try it ! hope it's
    help. of course have to watch out the liquid u have it before u add the flour in like you said.

  14. Thanks Catherina.

    Christine! I finally did it. The turnip cake is nice and soft, no longer hard. It really does have a lot to do with having the right amount of water / moisture from the radish; and consistency of mixing the rice flour & wheat starch into the melted radish. Thanks for a great recipe! Love it!

  15. Hi,
    I dont have any wheat flour nor corn starch..Can i do without the wheat flour but add more water instead so tht the turnip cake dont turn out hard ??kindly advise..what is wheat flour ?? normal flour ??

  16. @melissa buddy:
    Please take a look at the picture of wheat flour, on the right side
    As rice flour doesn't have much gluten, by adding some wheat flour, your radish cake won't be like a paste, but have a firmer texture.

    You can easily get wheat flour from any Asian stores.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Christine,

    I made this Dikon Cake for my family and they like it, but the only thing is that we tasted a litle radish bittery after taste. The turnips I got are all very heavy, juicey and fresh, but how come it turns out with a little bitter taste. Please advise!
    By the way, I used regular American bacon instead of Chinese bacon and they turned out great!


  19. @Judy:
    Glad that you made this radish cake. I made one on Chinese New Year's eve.

    Daikon is bitter in taste if it's old or out of season.
    Lucky me, I got a large, young fresh daikon very sweet, not bitter at all to make my CNY radish cake. Sometimes, I'm not that lucky.

  20. Hi Christine, thanks for posting this recipe. Tried it out for this Luna New Years but I had to add a LOT more water than your recipe specified. I added about 4 cups of water so that the flour was mixed in enough and not doughy!

    However, after steaming this just made the turnip cake very stodgy.

    Have you got any tips or advice to correct this for me?

  21. @Steven:
    Seems that 4 cups of water were too much. I haven't added that much water even when I got the driest radish.

    Did you immediately stir in the flour into the cooked, still very hot radish paste?
    This step will help to cook through the cake quickly.

  22. I wonder if there is a way to make my own dried shrimps by drying it in the oven. It will probably make the whole house smell. I do not own a dehydrating machine. The store bought shrimps almost always have the veins and it is hard to take the baked in vein out. I do not want to omit the shrimps in the recipe. I even avoid eating shrimp noodles for dim sum because most restaurants I go to in Los Angeles area do not take out the veins.

    1. I haven't tried making my own dried shrimps, just used the store-bought ones. I'd get the larger dried ones, that seems to have less veins inside.
      In olden days, people just put the shrimps under the sun to dehydrate them. Yes, we can use oven to do the job and speed up the process with better and hygienic results.

  23. Do you remove the skin from the Chinese bacon before, after or not at all prior to blanching? Do I dice the fat in the bacon as well or discrd the fat? Thank you.

    1. I didn't remove the skin of the Chinese bacon. You can do it if you like though.
      After frying the Chinese bacon, the fat will release. You can wipe the oil off from the pan with kitchen paper if you're concerned.