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In elementary school I remember my friends loving to smell the inside of my backpack because it always smelled like fried rice, or some kind of savory, greasy, oyster saucy food. Everyone loved the smell of my father's cooking, unless it was daikon cake day. My mother prepared herself for the annual daikon cake steaming day by closing all the doors and opening the windows so the smell wouldn't permeate every single part of the house.  Although now I don't think she cares as much as she used to, she just leaves the house or stays downstairs when it's being made. Although this year my father didn't add in the shiitake mushrooms which helped lessen the blow. Let's just say the smell is, distinct.

I feel as though I am sharing such negative information with you in relation to some of my most beloved foods. I wonder what that says about me. Hello, my name is Jen. I love to eat smelly, nasty textured things, they're my favorite.

but really, I promise they are so good.

This was the dish I was most excited to learn how to make, and surprisingly it was the easiest. Okay, not as easy as coconut cake, but pretty darn easy. I was surprised I didn't already have it memorized. As kids we would eat this cake for breakfast the days following the initial chinese new year celebration.

Daikon is a chinese radish you can find at most grocery stores, in the produce section. It would also be easily found at any asian marketplace. This cake is a savory dish with dried meats and shiitake mushrooms that is traditionally served at yum cha or dim sum and definitely worth making at home; even if it does smell a little.

baba leung's daikon cake

4 cups water
3 1/2 pounds daikon, shredded
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon salt, more if needed
1-2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder
3 chinese sausages, chopped
3 ounces dried shrimp,  reconstituted and chopped
2-3 shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted and chopped (optional)
2-3 ounces bacon, cooked and chopped (optional)
3/4 to 1 pound rice flour (not glutinous)
2-3 ounces cornstarch (optional)

Soak the dried shrimp and shiitake mushrooms in warm water for about 30 minutes, chop, reserve water.

Bring daikon and brown sugar to a boil in a large stock pot cooking until soft, about twenty minutes. Season daikon with salt and chicken powder; add sausage, shrimp, bacon and mushrooms. Add flour and cornstarch a little bit at a time stirring well after each addition until the cake batter is quite thick and gooey. The cornstarch will make the cake firmer.

Add the reserved water if the batter is too dry. Don't worry if there are lumps of flour in the batter. Pour into greased pan (about 2 quarts), steam for about an hour and a half.

Slice up, sprinkle with a bit of freshly crushed black pepper and pan fry until golden.  Serve with soy dipping sauce {soy sauce with a few splashes of vinegar and a little sugar to take off the sting}.


  1. YAY. i am so doing this. altho i am scared about the smell!

    love love love love this dish when we do dimsum.

    altho i recall dipping in a thicker sauce, not quite hoisin sauce but it's a dark one...

  2. not sure what it could have been, maybe plum sauce?

    don't worry about the smell, it just smells like daikon, meats, and mushrooms. some people just don't like it, they just don't understand.

  3. My husband would love this. This means I can say cakee and bacon in the same sentence!

  4. Oh yum! My mom used to make this but she has passed away and I did not have a recipe. Yes, a very strong smell! Best to make this during the summer when you can open your windows.

    The sauce that is served with this is oyster sauce.

  5. thanks puppydogs! i hope you approve of my dad's version, althogh nothing is ever as good as mom's

  6. One of my favourite dim sum dishes, prefer them really golden brown on the outside though. The dim sum houses in Hong Kong used to have trolleys that go around frying these up and I always pester them to make them crispy!