Fried Radish Cake (菜头粿)
May 05th, 2010 58 Comments

Fried Radish Cake (菜头粿)

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Fried Radish Cake (菜头粿) Recipe


Part 1 – Making the Radish Cake

1 medium radish (about 700g when grated) + 50ml water
200g rice flour
250ml water
1/4 tsp salt


1. Over a very low flame, steam grated radish + 50ml water in a thick stainless steel pot (or non-stick pot). About 30 mins, or until radish turns translucent. Remove cover and allow to cool.

2. Combine rice flour, salt and water. Mix well to combine.

3. Add rice flour solution to cooled grated radish. Stir and mix before pouring into a metal cake tin for steaming. The final mixture should resemble a somewhat watery coleslaw.

4. Steam on high for 40 mins. Leave it until completely cool (best overnight in the refrigerator), so that the radish cake firms up. It will be easier to handle too, as it will not stick to the knife when you’re cutting.


Part 2 – Frying the Radish Cake

Use half of the steamed radish cake above (enough for 1 or 2 persons)

1 to 2 tbsp chai poh (preserved radish/turnip)
2 to 3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cloves minced garlic
About 2 tsp fish sauce* (or slightly more, if you like)
3 tbsp oil (vegetable oil or lard oil)
Dash of white pepper
Chilli sauce (optional, as much as you like)
About 1 tbsp Rose Brand Thick Sweet Sauce (omit this if you are frying the white version)
3 stalks chopped spring onion
Coriander leaves for garnishing

(Teochew cuisine is one of the few which makes use of fish sauce due to Chaoshan’s coastal land.)


1. Cut up steamed radish cake into small chunks. Smaller chunks will crisp better, and the result is a more delicious plate of Chai Tow Kway. You want a contrast in texture – a crisp exterior and a soft interior. And those really small, charred, crispy crumbs? Heaven.

2. In a non-stick skillet, heat oil and fry radish cake chunks till lightly browned and slightly crisp. Heat should be medium high.

3. Add minced garlic and chai poh. Fry till aromatic. Drizzle a little more oil if it is too dry.

4. Add fish sauce, pepper (and lashings of chilli sauce, if you like it spicy). Fry to coat evenly with seasoning.

5. Pour beaten eggs all over radish cake. Allow the eggs to set slightly before flipping over in sections. It’s OK if it starts breaking up when you flip over; you don’t need to have a perfect whole. At this stage, you can dish up and serve with spring onions if you are making the white version.

6. Drizzle Rose Brand Thick Sweet Sauce and stir fry to mix well. Dish up and sprinkle liberally with spring onions. Garnish with coriander leaves.

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58 comments... read them below or add one

  1. David says:

    These are always so much fun to eat and easy to make thanks for sharing

  2. rachel says:

    love your pics.. love the typical coffee cup and and the steel made bowl. Char kuey kak remind me when i was in elementary… outside Phor Tay high school…. long time ago…… :)

  3. rachel says:

    anyway, not as fancy as yours…. this is one of my childhood dish :)

  4. kirbie says:

    I’ve been wanting to make this for a long time. I bought the flour and the radish, but then I got too lazy. However, you make it look so simple that I’m going to make myself make this!

  5. Hi Bee

    Thank you again for this opportunity to guest blog for Rasa Malaysia. It has been my pleasure and privilege. I hope your readers will like this dish. Long live Rasa Malaysia! :D

    Warmest regards

  6. Trix says:

    Ju!! So happy to be making a comment on one of your excellent dishes!! Believe it or not, I have actually tried my hand at making this dish, though my results certainly pale in comparison to yours and I have never been so lucky as to eat this on the street in Singapore or Malaysia. Sigh – someday. What cool childhood memories! I love how you’ve brought that to life here. Excellent guest post, my dear!

    • Trix my dear, I am not surprised that you’ve tried making this. You’re one of the most adventurous cooks/bakers I know of. Thank you for your compliments. I hope that when you do get to eat this dish in the streets of Singapore (at least), I would be the one bringing you out and chomping along! :D

  7. Lori says:

    I made something similar to this with shrimp. I would really like to try this recipe. Bookmarked!

  8. nags says:

    i absolutely love the black version too, although they call this carrot cake in singapore!

  9. Jenny says:

    I love the black version too, especially if they are cooked almost burnt with the burnt aroma, the chai poh is a great addition.

  10. irvin says:

    ill try to cook

  11. It is such a delight to see Ju make this dish. The Chai Towkuay looks absolutely scrumptious.

  12. tigerfish says:

    黑的白的? 黑的! I am also a child of the 1970s living in eastern Singapore, and BYOE to a Char Kway Teow stall back in Joo Chiat :P

    Your Chai Tow Kueh, I would say, is the perfect bite-size for me. There are many variations to the Kueh-size as well. Some stalls are famous for “pancake style”: big pieces of the kueh bind by fried eggs in a round “pancake” vs some Chai Tow Kueh in really tiny pieces that I can’t even poke with the fork. :( ….yours looks perfect! I like it this way. BTW, Chai Tow Kueh is one of my fav hawker food :)

    • Tigerfish, we should meet. We could have been classmates!!! Yeah, 黑的 rules!!

    • Jeanne says:

      Hi Little Teochew and Tigerfish -by reading both your messages make me missed Joo Chiat. Yes, I remembered we used to have black carrot cake for supper and it cost only 30 cts per packet. In NZ, we do not have such dish only the normal radish cake being served at Dim sum. The dish look yummy.

      • Hi Jeanne

        Kia ora! That’s why I really, really enjoyed doing this post. :) So many happy childhood memories. I was telling my children about the old lady at Siglap wet market, who used to cut the huge chunk of radish cake (with a string) for her daughter (or was it her daughter-in-law?) to fry in the giant skillet. The image is etched so vividly in my mind!


  13. DailyChef says:

    Yum! I love these every time I travel to Asia – what a treat :)

  14. Mark says:

    Hi Ju, it is great to see your guest post. I had never heard of Teochew cuisine until I stumbled upon your blog. I like the look of the black version too.

  15. Melanie says:

    This seems to be similar to our Penang Char Koay Kak, except tht we add bean sprouts right?

  16. I love the black version too =)esp the burnt bits! yum…

  17. Beaulotus says:

    I grew up preferring the black version but with age, I’ve starting migrating towards the white one!

    Beautiful pictures of a wonderful dish, I feel so hungry looking at them…

  18. This is a fascinating recipe; I would love to taste it!

  19. time to make some more! it has been awhile. this is super yummy.

  20. gina says:

    love it ! thank you…

  21. noobcook says:

    omg this looks awesome. I cannot stare at the photos for more than 5 seconds or I’ll crave for a plate of black carrot cake right away haha

    Ju – congrats on the guest post, love your blog =D

  22. Hi! I love this – I get my ‘fix’ from the ‘pasar malam’ – night markets here.

  23. LC says:

    Hi, I would love to try this recipe, can you please post a picture of the Rose Brand Thick Sweet Sauce? Thank you.

  24. luckyparadise says:

    I too live for the black one, living in NY and went back to Singapore last Aug with my husband. He had it for the first time there and was addicted to it. The best so far in Singapore is in Toa Payoh Lorong 1.

  25. I love to eat the black version when I was in Penang. In Singapore, I still prefer the white one. Ju, your FRC looks so mouth-watering! Two thumbs up!!

  26. Jenny says:

    This is cool, friend radish cake, I never thought about radishes can be ingredients on cakes =)

  27. kl_changs says:

    Brilliant recipe, Ju! The steps are so detailed and thorough. Thanks.

    You have inspired me to try my hand at it. We, Penangites, call it Char Koay Kark. Missing it very much.

  28. baobabs says:

    I LOVE char dao kueh, it’s the dish I miss most from home. I am also a huge fan of LIttle Teochew’s blog that I read regularly. I might just attempt this recipe and take some sweet black sauce with me the next time I’m back in Singapore!

    Thank you for sharing and both your photos are stunning, as always!

  29. Lilacz says:


    May i ask if kecap manis is the same as sweet sauce? Can i use kecap manis to make the black version? Any idea are there different types of chai po? The one i bought in Australia is very salty…maybe there are sweet and salty chai po, are there? Thanks very much!

  30. Mary Ong says:

    I have problem frying them last night, they tend to leave a skin on the frying pan when you try to flip the next side for frying, then you lose them out of control when the skin sticks on to the pan and get burn

    • Hi Mary, I know what you mean about losing control when flipping. It helps tremendously to use a non-stick skillet (with sufficient oil) and let the pieces really crisp properly before turning over. HTH! Thanks.

  31. Al says:

    I tried the radish cakes and am happy with the final taste – quite close to how I remember it. However, the consistency of the radish cakes was very disappointing. I followed your directions to a ‘T’. It turned out very gummy and just clumped together into a starchy mess when fried. I’m not going to give up – want to try it again. Can you suggest to me what I can do differently next time – more flour, less water? Thanks!

    • Hi Al, glad you tried it out. :) I assume you refrigerated before frying? It makes a difference. I always leave the pieces to brown and crisp thoroughly on one side before turning. And using a non-stick skillet (with oil) helps a lot. Having said that, if you want a firmer radish cake, why don’t you try increasing the rice flour by another 100g and see if the texture is what you are looking for? HTH!

      • Al says:

        Thank you so much !! Your suggestion to add more rice flour helped. Of course, I think I went a little too much and it was firmer than I would’ve liked but at least I know now to adjust flour and water to get the firmness I desire. BTW, I did not need the 250ml of water – the liquid from the steamed radish seemed enough with the additional flour. I also oiled the cake pan before steaming so that the steamed cake released much easier. I think I need to stop with the experimenting for now – the family is tired of having radish cake every weekend for the last 3 wkends!!

  32. Richard Wee says:

    Can you please feature a childhood favorite kueh of mine that our locals call “bee pow bee” or rice wrapped in rice. It is a flat peach shapped (tho) kueh with rice flour skin as in “chai kueh”, and glutinous rice with bits of dried prawns, mushrooms, halves of roasted peanuts, and thin tiny strips of fatty pork inside.

    I enjoy your recipes and being a very long retired person, have the time to try a few of your recipes. Great and keep them coming.

  33. Richelle says:

    This looks so mouthwatering! Do you know where I can get the Rose Brand sweet sauce in the US? Specifically California?

  34. Christine says:

    Hi I had a go making this on the weekend, AND IT’S FANTASTIC!

  35. angela says:

    Glad to find this receipe….but can i know why there’s bitter taste?? i heard that we should drain the radish dry and discard the water which cause the bitterness, is that true? pls help..need to make some for CNY

  36. I wish I were your neighbour haha…then I will never move house. Your food makes my mouth water. Thanks for sharing them.

  37. josh says:

    Do I need to cover the tin when steaming the radish cake mixture?

  38. CTurner says:

    Hi Bee,

    Could you advise where I could buy the Rose Brand Thick Sweet Sauce in the in NYC or online? My favourite Fried Radish Cake (we call them Carrot Cake in Singapore. I know, odd. Don’t know why.

    And, thanks so much for posting so many wonderful recipes, I cook because I can’t get most Singapore and Malaysian foods here in NYC, let alone authentic ones and I so appreciate that I can find so many recipes on your blog! Thanks again!


  39. Samantha says:

    Just made my first batch of carrot cake!! It was soo yummmm!! Thank you for the recipe! Quick question.. I have made 2 batches of steam carrot cake. Is it possible to freeze the second batch or do I have to cook them within the next few days? Many thanks!!!

  40. Bonnie says:

    Hi Bee,

    Your radish cake recipe is the best I have tried. Easy to follow and definitely a great success with all my London foreign friends who are vegetarians. It is my all time potluck party favourite.

    Thanks for sharing..

    boonie in London

  41. WC says:

    Am so glad my sis refer this recipe to me, simply love it. Though the texture of my carrot cake was not consistent. Some parts were soft and nice while some were harder. Any idea what’s the issue that causing it to be hard?

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