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Radish Cake - Bot Chien

Radish Cake - Bot Chien

6-8 Servings

00:15 Prep

1:00 Cook

Moderate - You'll be right

Gluten free cakes such as Vietnamese cassava and radish cake are incredibly popular on the streets of Vietnam and in Vietnamese homes. Banh cu cai (radish cake) is a steamed savoury cake traditionally flavoured with the umami of dried shrimp and sweetened with daikon radish. It can be referred to as turnip cake, radish cake or banh cu cai.

Coming from a Cantonese background, there are a few variations of radish cake in my family with both my grandmas having their respective recipes, and my mum preferring her own. Between the three there was one common denominator: all three would shallow fry the steamed radish cake, then religiously top it off with a silky beaten egg . My mum’s version is the one I’ve adapted for this recipe as I firmly believe she found the perfect ratio of dried shrimp and grated daikon radish; resulting in a dish that is incredibly simple and straightforward but loaded with flavour. To further enhance the experience, there are a few key techniques I’ve grasped and added along the way.

The most important addition to my recipe is the use of anchovy salt. I always strive for maximum umami in my Vietnamese recipes and anchovy salt further emphasises the naturally sweet and savoury umami flavour in my mum’s radish cake.

Mum always said the rice flour to tapioca starch ratio is critical in obtaining the perfect sticky-but-soft and firm radish cake. Adding too much tapioca starch will make the cake too soft and gloppy. On the other hand, not adding tapioca starch will result in a radish cake that is quite dense and hard. It’s a fine balance and one I am proud to share.

A step that cannot be missed is shallow frying the cake then adding an egg. This helps to achieve the desired crispy edges and adds volume to the dish if you want to make it a meal. My final recommendation is to serve the radish cake with your favourite chilli sauce. My preference is sriracha sauce which adds a garlicky and chilli savoury elements.

So, if you like umami in your home cooking and have not experienced radish cake, do yourself a favour and give this recipe a whirl to experience it the way I make it for my family today.

Radish Cake - Bot Chien
Radish Cake - Bot Chien

Ingredients:

  • 45g Dried shrimp

  • 100ml water

  • 1 large daikon (500g) thinly sliced into matchsticks

  • 3 tablespoons neutral cooking oil

  • ½ teaspoon anchovy salt

  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt



Radish cake batter mix:

  • 250g rice flour

  • 1 ½ tablespoon tapioca starch

  • ½ teaspoon anchovy salt

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil

  • 350ml cold water

  • 300ml boiling water


Egg mixture:

  • 2 free range eggs

  • ¼ teaspoon anchovy salt

  • ½ teaspoon sugar

  • 2 tablespoons water

Method:

How to make radish cake:
1. Soak dried shrimp in 100ml cool water the night before.


2. Strain dried shrimp but reserve dried shrimp water, place in a mortar and pestle and work into fine paste.


3. In a large mixing bowl add reserved shrimp water along with batter ingredients except boiling water and mix well then set aside for 10 mins to allow flour to settle.


4. In a large pan add cooking oil and radish and stir fry on high for 2-3 minutes then add dried shrimp and continue to stir fry for 2 minutes then remove and set aside.


5. Add boiling water to batter, mix well then add the cooked daikon and combine well.


6. Line a 9-inch cake tin with 1 tablespoon cooking oil, pour in batter and steam for 30 mins or until cooked through. To check, skewer the radish cake and if it comes out clean, the radish cake is ready.


Duncan’s tip: Lining the cake tin with cooking oil prevents the mixture from sticking to the tin.


7. Allow to cool then cut into bite sized pieces and enjoy with sriracha or chilli oil. Alternatively see below to learn my favourite way to serve radish cake.


How to fry radish cake:
1. Cut up a quarter of the radish cake into bite sized pieces and fry in a large fry pan with a few tablespoons of cooking oil on medium for 4-5 minutes on each side or until golden and slightly crispy.


2. Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, add egg mixture ingredients and whisk together. Once fried radish cake is ready, add egg mixture cook for a minute or until egg is set.


3. Serve immediately with sriracha or chilli oil.

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