Experiences - Asia

Chinese New Year Food – Turnip cake

Chinese culture is rich in symbolism and tradition, and the Chinese New Year is no exception.  Chinese New Year is celebrated at the start of spring, generally with fireworks, costumes and large meals. Chinese New Year food is symbolic and represents good luck, health and long life. Preparations for the Spring Festival often begin as early as one or two weeks before the lunar New Year’s Eve. Families become very busy not only preparing food, but also with the traditional cleaning and decoration work that welcomes a “New Beginning”.

Chinese New Year Food - Turnip cake

Image Courtesy: Kirk K used under the Creative Commons Licence

Turnip cakes, which originated in the Guangdong province, are a New Year celebration dish for the Cantonese people. This is the delicious savoury cake, served in dim sum houses throughout the year and, most auspiciously, on New Year’s Day as a symbol of prosperity and rising fortunes. Turnip cake is made with Chinese turnip ‘law bock’, which is a type of daikon radish. Rice flour is another key ingredient to give Luo Buo Gao it’s delicious sticky consistency. Lard or Chinese bacon is also added to add to the flavour.

Chinese  Turnip cake

Image Courtesy: Alpha used under the Creative Commons Licence

Although the steamed turnip cake can be consumed straight with soy sauce, it is commonly cooked again to add additional flavours. For instance turnip cake can be sliced into square pieces when cooled and then pan-fried until both sides turn golden. It is served with chili sauce and/or Hoisin sauce on the side, as condiments. Turnip cake can be made dark (with dark soy and molasses) or light (salt and fish sauce styled Chai tow kway). It can also be stir-fried and made into the dish Chai Tow Tway.

This February, why not try some Turnip cake to usher in this Lunar New Year auspiciously.

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