I am a huge fan of Teochew food, a southern China regional cuisine. In Southeast Asia, there are a lot of Chinese of the Teochew descent and many of us are familiar with the homey and delicious Teochew dishes. Today, I am very happy to have Ju at The Little Teochew as a guest writer. Based in Singapore, Ju is a talented home cook and a mother of three. The Little Teochew is a resourceful food blog with many Teochew, Chinese, baking, and everyday recipes. Please welcome The Little Teochew to Rasa Malaysia as she shares her scrumptious fried radish cake (菜头粿) recipe.
Rasa Malaysia is literally an icon in the flogosphere, while I am just The Little Teochew. So, it is a huge honour for me to be guest blogging today.
When Rasa Malaysia suggested a Teochew dish, I knew what I wanted to make – Chai Tow Kway (Fried Radish Cake or 菜头粿). If you live in (or have visited) Southeast Asia, you’d know that this is everyday street food, and a beloved breakfast/supper staple of many Singaporeans and Malaysians…
There are two versions of Chai Tow Kway – white and black. I am featuring both, although I personally live for the black version. ;)
I really enjoyed doing up this post because it brought back many happy childhood memories (hence the “old school” feel of my photos). I grew up eating the Chai Tow Kway at Siglap wet market…those were days when people would BYOE (Bring Your Own Eggs!) for the hawker to fry their Chai Tow Kway with, and ate this dish with toothpicks instead of chopsticks or forks. If you are a child of the 1970s living in eastern Singapore, you will remember this. Ah, nostalgia!
Anyhow, this recipe uses a very high ratio of radish to flour. As my late father would say, “the real deal”, where you get to taste the chai tow (radish) and not the flour. Feel free, though, to adjust the proportions of radish, flour and water. Unlike baking, there are no hard and fast rules to making this, and a little more (or less) here and there will not hurt. Do remember that increasing the amount of radish and water will yield a more tender texture, while increasing flour will give you more ‘bite’.
I hope you’ll enjoy making and eating this dish as much as I did!
Part 1 – Making the Radish Cake
1 medium radish (about 700g when grated) + 50ml water
200g rice flour
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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