Luo Bo Gao (Vegetarian Daikon Rice Cakes)


For Chinese New Year, I found this great recipe on www.AsianDumplingtips.com

So I tried to follow this recipe to the letter. 
Luo Bo Gao, Daikon Rice Cakes
Dumpling
9ounces (2 cups) regular rice flour, preferably a Thai brand, such as Erawan
1ounce (scant ¼ cup) wheat starch
1 teaspoon and 1/4 teaspoon salt 
½teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1pound daikon radish
4 large dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated in 1 1/4 cups of water,stemmed and finely chopped 
1tablespoon canola or peanut oil
1/2teaspoon sugar
1teaspoon light (regular) soy sauce
2scallions, finely chopped
2tablespoons chopped cilantro (stems and leaves)
Canolaoil, for panfrying
Light(regular) soy sauce
Chile Garlic Sauce, homemade or storebought
1. Combine the rice flour, wheat starch, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a largebowl and set aside near the stove.
2.  Peel the daikon and grate it through the small holes ofyour grater onto a nonterry kitchen towel.  Or, use the smallest shredderblade on your food processor and transfer to a nonterry kitchen towel. Bringtogether the ends of the cloth and twist to squeeze out as much of the liquidas possible into the measuring cup. Transfer the daikon to a medium pot. 
3.Remove the mushrooms from their soaking liquid. Measure out 3/4 cup of theliquid and add it to the daikon juices. Add enough water to the daikon juiceand mushroom soaking liquid to make 3½ cups. Add this liquid to the daikon inthe pot. Set aside.
4.Trim away the mushroom stems and then finely chopped the caps. You should haveabout 3/4 cup. Set aside.
5.Heat up the 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Addthe mushroom, stirring, for about 45 seconds until aromatic. Sprinkle in the1/4 teaspoons salt, sugar, and soy sauce. Cook, for about 2 minutes, untilthere is little liquid remaining and the mushroom is sizzling a bit. Add thescallion and cilantro, cook for about 30 seconds more to develop the flavor,then remove from the heat. Set aside.
6.Bring the pot of daikon to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat tosimmer. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the mushroom mixture and letsimmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Whisk in rice flour in 4batches, doing your best to incorporate the flour to avoid large lumps. In thefinal addition of flour, switch to a wooden spoon as the batter will stiff andthick (you can stick a spoon into the pot).
7. Oil a high sided, 9-inch wide round cake pan. Add the dumplingbatter, spreading it out to fill the pan. Smooth out the top with a spatula,dipping it into water, as needed. 
8.Steam over boiling water for 40 to 60 minutes, replenishing the water asnecessary. The radish cake is done with a toothpick inserted comes outrelatively clean. Cool on a rack completely before using.
9. To unmold the daikon radish cake, run a knife around the edge and then cut asmall piece. Wedge a dinner knife of spatula into the cake and then lift it upfrom the pan. The first piece and cut is the hardest. Beyond that, it’s easyand the cake should lift off the pan without a hitch.
10. You can eat the radish cake as is, but I love to panfry piecesof it. Cut the cake anyway you want, into thick slices like 1/2-inch thickdominos, 1-inch cubes, whatever. (You can refrigerate the cake, up to a week,slicing and frying right before eating.) 
11. Topanfry, coat a large skillet with oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add theradish cake slices, with one their large flat sides down. Let them fry,undisturbed, for about 4 minutes, until crisp and golden brown. They’ll stickat first but will eventually release. Turn them over to brown the other sides.Serve hot with a soy sauce and chile garlic sauce.  
What went wrong: I could not find white rice flour at the grocery store so I used brown rice flour. I think I had too much Daikon in my recipe and should have doubled up on the flour. The result of this was that it did not cook properly so I had to recook them again for 30 minutes in the oven. I also forgot the garlic sauce in the fridge. 
The reviews: The average grade is 3.5 (including my kids). Not bad for a dish comprised of white radish and mushrooms. My cakes were not deemed attractive and the texture was not appreciated. The taste was deemed a bit bland by some and much too strong by others. 
Suzie gave it a 4 (pro texture, con presentation) 
Ben and Greg gave it a 2 (con texture, con presentation, con taste) 
Fred and I gave it a 3.5 (pro texture, pro presentation, con taste) 

Cook’s appreciation: Lots of work for the end result. Very intricate steps for something that did not end up being a slam dunk. 

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