Chinese New Year Dinner – Turnip Cake!

Happy New Lunar Year of the Snake!  This is a special new year for Branching Owl, and it’s not because Owls feast on snakes, but because Mommy Owl & Brother Owl are all visiting me in NYC for our traditional new year dinner!

This dinner party menu will be split into several posts as some of the recipes may be quite complex.  That said, practice makes perfect so don’t be discouraged!!  I will post as many photos of ingredients as I can to help you shop at your local Asian supermarket.

Chinese New Year Decorations

Chinese New Year Decorations

Here’s the Menu:

Appetizer

- Turnip Cake

Main Course

- Whole Steamed Fish with Ginger and Scallion

- Chinese Wine Marinated Steamed Chicken

- Pork and Shrimp Stuffed Eggplant and Peppers

Dessert

- Sweet Dumplings with Peanut or Black Sesame Filling

- Purple Glutinous Rice and Barley Sweet Soup

First up on the recipe roster is home-made turnip cake. This savory cake is a family favorite and is a staple item for new year celebrations.  While this item can be found in most dim sum restaurants, I always prefer to make my own as I find store bought cake ingredients to be “watered down”.  As a note, I would reduce the dried ingredients by half if you’re not used to them as they can be quiet pungent (an acquired taste).  The batter is quite thick so this is going to be a great work out for your biceps!

Turnip Cake

Turnip Cake

Yield: 1 turnip cake (8 inch square Aluminum container), can serve as appetizer for 6 – 8 people

 Ingredients:

- 1 turnip: About 2 pounds

- Chinese Sausage: 1 – 2, diced

- Dried Chinese Mushrooms: 7 small ones, diced (Reconstitute dried Chinese mushrooms in water the night before, or hot water for at least an hour the day of cooking)

- Dried scallops: 3 – 4 (2/3 in batter, Reserve 1/3 as topping) (Reconstitute dried scallops in water the night before, or hot water for at least an hour the day of cooking); Tear into small pieces after reconstituted

- Dried shrimp: 1/3 cups, Roughly Chopped (2/3 in batter, Reserve 1/3 as topping) – Rinse dried shrimp before chopping up

- Scallions: 2 stalks with white parts, Chopped (2/3 in batter, Reserve 1/3 as topping)

- Rice flour: 1.5 cups

- Ginger: 3 – 4 Slices

- Chinese Rock Sugar: 2 – 3 cube sugar sized lumps

- White Pepper & Oyster Sauce: A Dash

- Aluminum container: 8 inch Square

Oyster Sauce & Rock Sugar

Oyster Sauce & Rock Sugar

Dried Sausage, Mushrooms, Shrimp, & Rice Flour

Dried Sausage, Mushrooms, Shrimp, & Rice Flour

 Directions:

- With a little heated olive oil in a pan, lightly fry up the diced Chinese sausage, reconstituted dried Mushrooms, dried shrimp and dried scallop (remember to reserve 1/3 for topping the batter!) for 2 – 3 minutes over medium heat.  Place in bowl and set aside.

- In a large bowl, grate the turnip. If you want better texture, grate 70%, the other 30% can be diced. Strain the turnip and save the juice in a separate bowl – my 2 pound turnip yielded just shy of 1 cup of juice.

- Mix rice flour with the turnip juice and make sure there are no lumps. The texture of the mix should be toothpaste like, if it’s too dry (or if your turnip didn’t yield a lot of juice), add water as needed (I added 1/8 cup of water for this batter)

- Again, in a slightly oiled pan, fry up 3-4 slices of ginger. Add turnip and cook until translucent, about 7 – 10 minutes on medium heat. Add 2 – 3 lumps of small Chinese rock sugar, dash of white pepper & oyster sauce, cook with turnip until sugar is melted. Discard ginger.

- Add the flour mixture into the cooked turnip and mix well.  Consistency would be like a thick batter, so add 1 – 2 cups of water if the batter is too dry. Then stir in Chinese sausage, mushroom, scallop, shrimp, and scallion mixture.

- Pour the batter into the aluminum container, top with the reserved topping, and steam for 1 hour. Store in fridge overnight.

To Serve

Option 1: Slice up the cake and pan fry with oyster sauce to dip.

Option 2: Steam and serve individual portions in bowls with some soy sauce and freshly chopped scallions

Option 3: Make the cakes into these super cute hearts for Valentine’s day with a twist!!!

Next up! Steamed Fish with Ginger and Scallions & Wine Marinated Chicken, stay tuned and Gung Xi Fa Cai!

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