Parsnip Cake – a take on Lo Bak Go

No, not a sponge cake. This is a delicious, savoury cake of subtly flavoured and spiced steamed parsnip. Those of you familiar with dim sum restaurants may know it as Turnip Cake, but Chinese Turnip is hard to get where I live unless I make a special trip. What I did have, however, was a bag of large freshly delivered parsnips. So using this recipe as a base, I thought I’d give it a go! The Lau family are just adorable.

454 g / 1lb grated parsnip
113 g / 4oz regular rice flour
177 ml / 0.75 cup water (you may need more depending on your rice flour)
15 g dried shrimp if you can get them, or just leave them out
1/2 piece Chinese sausage or 1 rasher of smoked bacon, chopped or veggie bacon
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tbs corn or veg oil
1/2 tsp sesame oil (I added 2 tsp sesame seeds as I had no oil)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 piece green onion ( I used 1 tbs dried chives as I had no onion)

Heat the veg oil.
Cook the garlic (and dried shrimp, if using) for about 30 seconds.
Cook the lap cheong or bacon for about 30 seconds.
Add the grated parsnip, stir well to coat it in oil, then cover the wok, and cook it for 6-7 minutes.
Add salt, white pepper and sesame oil if you have it.
Mix the flavours around the wok, cover again, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Parsnip has a lot less water than turnip, so watch for when the moisture starts a little bubble around the edges.

Line a cake pan, or whatever pan will fit in your steamer. I used an old pyrex trifle dish lined with non stick baking paper.

Mix the water into the rice flour. Whisk well, as it will sink to the bottom and fool you.
Keep stirring for far longer than you think. It needs to be like single cream consistency I think.
I found I needed just under a cup of water.
Mix 3/4 of it into the parsnip and stir it all well to combine, you don’t want any rice flour lumps.
You can mix this really well, the parsnip doesn’t seem to break up at all.
Put it on a low heat, and keep mixing until it starts to stiffen up. It only took a few minutes for mine to start coming together.
Pile it into your prepped dish of choice, lightly brush some vegetable oil on the top and sprinkle a few more sesame seeds.
Get the water in the steamer (I use one of these in a large pot, as they spread out nice and wide.) and once it boils, pop in your pot, and close the lid. Or cover with foil. 🙂
My dish is about 2 inches deep.
I steamed on high boil for 20 minutes, then low simmer for another 10.
As soon as a chopstick comes out clean, it’s done!
Leave it in the bowl, and when it’s cooled down to room temperature, pop it in the fridge to cool right down.

The next day, you can slice it and eat it as it is, like a delicious savoury pudding, or slice it and fry on all sides until crisp and golden. I suspect it would be fab alongside some crispy bacon and fried eggs!


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