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Chinese Steam Carrot Cake Recipe: A Creative Twist on a Traditional Dish

Fans of Chinese cuisine may be familiar with steamed carrot cake, which is also known as turnip cake or radish cake. This savoury delicacy is a popular choice on dim sum menus and is beloved by many. Made from shredded Chinese radish, rice flour, and a blend of other ingredients, it boasts a unique and delicious flavour.

 

Steam carrot cake mixture in a bamboo steamer. Steam rising, aroma filling the kitchen. Ingredients and utensils on the counter

The origins of this dish can be traced back to Southern China, where it's traditionally eaten during Chinese New Year celebrations. However, it's now widely available in most Chinese restaurants around the world. The cake can be served either pan-fried or steamed, and is often garnished with spring onions, sesame seeds, and chilli sauce.

To make your own steamed carrot cake, you'll need a few essential ingredients such as shredded radish, rice flour, and Chinese sausage. You'll also need to prepare the batter and steam the cake until it's cooked through. Once it's ready, you can pan-fry it until it's crispy on the outside and serve it with your favourite dipping sauce.

Key Takeaways

  • Steamed carrot cake is a popular Chinese dish made from shredded Chinese radish, rice flour, and other ingredients.
  • The cake can be served either pan-fried or steamed and is often garnished with spring onions, sesame seeds, and chilli sauce.
  • To make your own steamed carrot cake, you'll need essential ingredients such as shredded radish, rice flour, and Chinese sausage, and you'll need to prepare the batter and steam the cake until it's cooked through.

Origins and Cultural Significance

A steaming pot of Chinese carrot cake mixture bubbles on a stove, surrounded by traditional cooking utensils and ingredients. The aroma fills the air, symbolizing the cultural significance of this beloved recipe

Carrot cake is a traditional Chinese dish that has become popular in many parts of Asia, especially in Singapore and Hong Kong. This dish is typically served during Chinese New Year and other festive occasions. In this section, we will explore the history and cultural significance of Chinese steamed carrot cake.

History of Chinese Steamed Carrot Cake

Chinese steamed carrot cake has its roots in a Teochew dish called Chye Tow Kway, which is a fried rice cake made with daikon radish. This dish was brought over to Singapore by early Teochew immigrants in the 1950s. Over time, radish was replaced with carrots, which are more readily available and easier to find. The dish has since evolved into a steamed cake that is now a popular breakfast or snack food in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Regional Variations

In Malaysia, Chinese steamed carrot cake is known as "chai tow kway" and is often served with sweet black sauce and chilli paste. In Hong Kong, the cake is typically served with soy sauce and sesame oil. In Singapore, it is often served with a mixture of chilli sauce and sweet black sauce.

If you want to add a touch of seafood to your steamed carrot cake, you can try adding some dried shrimps or Chinese sausage to the recipe. These ingredients will add a savoury flavour to the cake and complement the sweetness of the carrots. You can also try adding some fresh prawns or squid to the recipe for a more seafood-centric dish.

Essential Ingredients

Carrots, flour, eggs, and spices mix in a bowl. Steam rises from a bamboo steamer. Chinese characters label the ingredients

When it comes to making Chinese steamed carrot cake, there are a number of essential ingredients that you will need to have on hand. These ingredients can be divided into three main categories: flours and starches, proteins and vegetables, and seasonings and sauces.

Flours and Starches

The most important ingredient in any steamed carrot cake recipe is the flour. In this case, you will need both rice flour and tapioca flour. These flours are essential for creating the texture and consistency of the cake.

Proteins and Vegetables

In addition to the flours, you will also need a variety of proteins and vegetables. The most important protein in this recipe is dried shrimp. This ingredient adds a savoury flavour to the cake that is essential to its overall taste. Chinese sausage is another important protein that is often used in this recipe.

When it comes to vegetables, the most important ingredient is radish. This vegetable gives the cake its distinctive flavour and texture. Carrots can also be used in place of radish if desired.

Seasonings and Sauces

The final category of essential ingredients is seasonings and sauces. These ingredients are what give the cake its unique flavour. Salt and sugar are essential seasonings that are used in almost every recipe. Garlic and spring onion are also commonly used to add flavour.

Soy sauce and sesame oil are two important sauces that are often used in this recipe. These sauces add a savoury flavour to the cake and help to bring out the other flavours in the dish. Five spice powder, fish sauce, and XO sauce are other seasonings that can be used to add flavour to the cake.

If you are looking to add some seafood to your steamed carrot cake, you might consider using seafood XO sauce or adding some chopped shrimp or scallops to the recipe. However, it is important to note that these ingredients are not essential and can be omitted if desired.

Overall, the key to a great Chinese steamed carrot cake is to use high-quality ingredients and to follow the recipe carefully. With the right ingredients and a little bit of practice, you can create a delicious and healthy snack that is sure to impress your friends and family.

Preparing the Batter and Steaming Process

Carrots and batter being mixed in a bowl. Steaming process shown with steam rising from a covered cake pan

Mixing the Batter

To make the perfect steamed carrot cake, the first step is to prepare the batter. You will need to mix rice flour, tapioca flour, water, and salt in a bowl until it's smooth. You can add a pinch of five spice powder or pepper to enhance the flavour. You can also add seafood, such as shrimp or scallops, to the batter for an extra burst of flavour.

Once you have mixed the batter, you can add sautéed garlic and shallots in a pan until they're fragrant. This will give the carrot cake a savoury flavour that complements the sweetness of the carrots.

Steaming Techniques

To steam the carrot cake, you can use a bamboo steamer or a cake pan. If you're using a bamboo steamer, place the batter in the steamer and steam it over a wok filled with boiling water. Make sure the water does not touch the steamer. Steam the carrot cake for about 30-40 minutes until it's fluffy and cooked through.

If you're using a cake pan, grease the pan with oil and pour the batter into the pan. Place the pan in a steamer basket and steam it for about 45-50 minutes until it's cooked through.

To check if the carrot cake is done, insert a toothpick in the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready. Let it cool for a few minutes before slicing it into pieces.

Steamed carrot cake is a delicious and healthy snack that's perfect for any time of the day. With the right ingredients and steaming techniques, you can create a fluffy and flavourful cake that will delight your taste buds.

Pan-Frying and Garnishing

Carrot cake sizzling in a hot pan, steam rising, garnished with fresh herbs and sesame seeds

Pan-frying is another popular way to cook Chinese steamed carrot cake. This method involves first steaming the cake and then pan-frying it to achieve a crispy exterior while keeping the inside moist and tender. Achieving the perfect crispiness requires a bit of skill and patience, but it is well worth the effort.

Achieving the Perfect Crispiness

To achieve the perfect crispiness, start by heating up a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add a bit of oil and wait for it to heat up. Once the oil is hot, add the steamed carrot cake and let it cook for a few minutes on each side until it turns golden brown and crispy. Be sure to flip the cake carefully to prevent it from breaking apart.

Garnishes for Enhanced Flavour

Garnishing your pan-fried carrot cake is an excellent way to enhance its flavour and presentation. One popular garnish is dried shrimp, which adds a nice umami flavour to the dish. Another good option is fried shallots, which provide a crispy texture and a sweet and savoury taste.

If you want to add some heat to your dish, you can use fresh chillies or red chilli slices as a garnish. Coriander is also a great option, as it adds a fresh and fragrant taste to the dish.

As a suggestion, you can also add seafood to your recipe to give it an extra depth of flavour. Dried scallops or dried mushrooms can be used to add a rich and savoury taste, while oyster sauce can be used to give the dish a sweet and salty flavour. Experiment with different ingredients to find the combination that works best for you.

In summary, pan-frying is a great way to cook Chinese steamed carrot cake, and garnishing is an excellent way to enhance its flavour and presentation. By following these tips and experimenting with different ingredients, you can create a delicious and unique dish that your family and friends will love.

Nutritional Information and Dietary Considerations

A steam carrot cake sits on a plate with a nutritional label and dietary considerations listed beside it. Chinese characters decorate the background

Caloric Content and Health Benefits

Chinese Steamed Carrot Cake is a delicious and healthy snack that is low in calories and high in nutrients. One serving of this dish contains approximately 150-200 calories, depending on the size of the slice. It is also a good source of dietary fibre, protein, and vitamins.

The umami flavour in this dish comes from the morsels of dried shrimp, mushroom, and Chinese sausage. These ingredients also add to the nutritional value of the dish, as they are rich in protein and vitamins. However, if you have a seafood allergy, you can substitute the dried shrimp with dried scallops or omit them altogether.

Carrots are the main ingredient in this dish and are a great source of beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for good vision, healthy skin, and a strong immune system.

Adapting the Recipe for Dietary Restrictions

If you are vegan or vegetarian, you can adapt this recipe by omitting the Chinese sausage and dried shrimp. Instead, you can add more mushrooms and other vegetables of your choice, such as bell peppers or zucchini.

If you are on a low-carb or gluten-free diet, you can substitute the rice flour with almond flour or coconut flour. You can also use a vegetable peeler to make thin strips of daikon radish instead of rice cake.

If you have a seafood allergy, you can substitute the dried shrimp with dried scallops or omit them altogether. You can also use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

When preparing this dish, it is important to use a clean cutting board and knife to prevent cross-contamination. You can also use Shaoxing wine, white pepper, and chili oil to add more flavour to the dish.

Overall, Chinese Steamed Carrot Cake is a nutritious and delicious snack that can be adapted to suit different dietary restrictions. By making a few simple substitutions, you can enjoy this dish without compromising your health or dietary needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

A steaming pot of carrot cake batter being mixed and poured into a cake pan, ready to be baked

What ingredients do I need for a traditional Chinese steamed carrot cake?

To make a traditional Chinese steamed carrot cake, you will need Chinese radish, rice flour, dried shrimps, Chinese sausage, dried Chinese mushrooms, garlic, shallot, salt, sugar, red chilli, spring onion, and fried shallot. You can also add seafood like prawns or scallops to enhance the flavour.

Can you suggest a simple method for making steamed carrot cake at home?

Yes, you can make a simple steamed carrot cake at home by mixing grated carrots with rice flour, water, and seasoning. You can also add other ingredients such as dried shrimp, Chinese sausage, and mushrooms. After mixing the ingredients, steam the cake until it is cooked through.

What's the secret to getting the perfect texture for a steamed carrot cake?

The secret to getting the perfect texture for a steamed carrot cake is to ensure that the batter is well-mixed and that the steaming time is just right. Over-steaming can make the cake too soft and mushy, while under-steaming can cause the cake to be too hard and dry.

How long does it usually take to steam a carrot cake Chinese style?

It usually takes around 40-50 minutes to steam a Chinese-style carrot cake. However, the steaming time may vary depending on the size and thickness of the cake.

Is there a way to make a steamed carrot cake without rice flour?

Yes, you can make a steamed carrot cake without rice flour by using wheat flour or tapioca flour instead. However, the texture and taste of the cake may differ from the traditional Chinese-style carrot cake.

What are some common toppings or sauces to serve with Chinese steamed carrot cake?

Some common toppings or sauces to serve with Chinese steamed carrot cake are XO sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, and sweet chilli sauce. You can also add seafood like prawns or scallops to enhance the flavour.