Thursday, January 16, 2014

My Mom's Potato Rice Cake Recipe (Lo Bak Go)

Happy New Year!  I really have been neglecting my blog the last few months, but feel inspired to start up again, so I hope to post more regularly from now on.
Seeing that it's close to Chinese New Year (January 31st), I would like to share with you a  recipe of my Mom's called Lo Bak Go (which translates to Lo Bak= Daikon Radish, Go= Cake).  It is served quite frequently in Chinese restaurants during Dim Sum lunch, and is also called Turnip or Radish Cake. In this case, I am substituting the daikon radish for potatoes, hence the name Potato Rice Cake.  I have been eating this dish since I was a little girl, and have always wanted to make it, so I asked my Mom if I could watch and photograph her doing it. This recipe holds a very special place in my heart, as my Mom is getting on in life, but I'll always have this forever to remember her by! I enjoy a piece of the cake dipped in a little bit of soy sauce and hot sauce.  I will post the recipe at the bottom of this post. I hope you'll give it a try!  ~Janice 
Lo Bak Go, Chinese rice cake
Lo Bak Go - Chinese Potato Rice Cake
The first step in the recipe is to prepare the filling, which is by far the best part of the cake.  It is the tiny pieces of salty, savoury, hearty, meaty goodness!  It consists of finely chopping together Chinese sausage (Lap Cheng), Chinese mushrooms, dried shrimp, salted turnip, and green onions.  You can find most of these ingredients in Asian food stores, or Chinatown.  You could use cubed ham, chicken breast, or even firm tofu in place of Chinese sausage. Because let's face it, they are not the healthiest, which probably explains why they taste so damn good! After finely chopping the ingredients, stir fry them in a bit of canola oil and salt until tender.  This step can be done a day or two ahead.  Just cool and store in the fridge until you are ready to make the cake.
The filling: Chinese sausage, Chinese mushrooms, dried shrimp, salted turnip, green onions

Chinese sausage (Lap Cheng)
So on the actual day of making the Rice Cake, the steps involved are as follows: 
Peel and chop the potatoes, make the rice liquid or batter for the cake, add the filling, then steam the rice cake.  First, peel and chop the potatoes into 1 cm cubes.  We used russet potatoes, but any kind will do.

Next, make the rice liquid or batter, using Rice Flour.  We used two 400 gram bags to make five pie-plate sized Rice Cakes.

Mix the flour with some water that has been boiled and cooled, add 2 tsp. of tapioca starch, then knead with hands until it becomes dough-like.

Add enough water to the dough until it is similar to the consistency of homogenized milk.  Again, make sure you use water that has been boiled and cooled, as opposed to tap water.  This makes the texture of the finished cake more smooth.  We needed to use about eight cups of water to get the right consistency.  Stir with a ladle between each cup of water. You'll be able to tell it's ready when the back of the ladle is completely coated with the white liquid.

Ok, here comes the fun it is time to steam the Potato Rice Cake!  Using the ladle, fill a pie pan or deep dish with the rice liquid, until it is about 1/3 full.  Sprinkle the potatoes first, then the meat filling all over the surface.  Be generous with this, as this is what makes the cake taste so yummy!  

Next, ladle more of the liquid on top of the filling until the plate is about 2/3 full.  You should still be able to see some of, but not all of the filling.

Place the pan or dish in a steamer, and cook for about 40 minutes total.  After 35 minutes of cooking time, sprinkle some chopped green onion on top to add some colour.  If you don't have a steamer, you can make your own steamer by using a large wok filled with about an inch of water, place a small round rack or inverted plate in the wok, then place the pan or deep dish on top of the rack.  Simmer for the same amount of time, and you will get the same result, which will look like this:
Lo Bak Go, Turnip Cake, Potato Rice Cake
Lo Bak Go, Lo Baak Gou, Radish Cake, Rice Cake
Pan-fried leftovers the next day!
Here is the recipe for Potato Rice Cake, or Lo Bak Go, in case you wanted to make it yourself.  My Mom used 2 bags of rice flour to make 5 pie pans of cake.

For the filling, which can be prepared the day before:
  • 8 dried Chinese (Shiitake) mushrooms, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • 3 Chinese sausages (Lap Cheng)
  • 1 cup dried shrimp, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • 2 pieces salted turnip, soaked in water for 10 minutes
  • 4 green onion stalks, chopped  
  1. Drain and squeeze out the excess water from the mushrooms, shrimp and turnip.
  2. Finely chop all ingredients.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a hot pan.
  4. Add a pinch of salt and stir fry everything together for about 5 minutes.
  5. Cool and set aside.  Refrigerate if not making until the next day.
Rest of the ingredients:
  • 4 large, or 6 medium russet potatoes, peeled
  • 12 cups boiled, then cooled water
  • 2 bags rice flour (red bag) *Note: do not use the Glutinous rice flour (green bag)* 
  • 2 tsp. tapioca starch
  • 2 shallots, chopped  
  1. Cube potatoes into 1 cm. squares.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a hot pan, and saute shallots for 2 minutes.
  3. Add potatoes and pan-fry for about 10 minutes.  This gives the potatoes extra flavour.  Set aside.
  4. Start on the rice flour liquid by pouring the bags of flour into a large bowl.
  5. Add 2-1/2 cups of the boiled water to the bowl, and mix together with your hands.
  6. Add tapioca starch.
  7. Knead with your hands until it becomes like dough.
  8. Add the rest of the water in, one cup at a time, stirring with a ladle between cups.  It should resemble homogenized milk.
  9. You can tell it is ready, when you dip your ladle in the bowl, and the liquid forms a white coating on the back of the ladle.
  10. Using the ladle, spoon the liquid into one of the pie pans until it is 1/3 full.
  11. Sprinkle potatoes, then the meat filling all over the surface of the liquid.
  12. Ladle more of the liquid on top, filling the pan to 2/3 full.  You should be able to still see some of the filling, so don't cover completely!
  13. Cover and steam over boiling water for about 35 minutes.
  14. Sprinkle some chopped green onions on top, then cover and steam for 5 minutes more.
  15. Carefully remove the pan from the steamer.  Cool slightly, then cut the rice cake into pieces.
  16. Serve with soy sauce and hot sauce.  I like to use Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce. Enjoy!
  17. Any leftovers that are stored in the fridge can be pan-fried in oil until a crispy crust is formed (see photo above).  This tastes even better, and it's usually how Dim Sum restaurants serve it.    

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