Dim Sum Cantonese Turnip Cakes Recipe, Lo Bak Go, Gluten Free, Vegan, Frugal

The other day, when I was given a bunch of free broccoli, I was also given a bunch of free daikon radishes. There were so many being given, but people didn't want them, because they thought it was just this strange radish, so I told them that it was a special Asian radish, and it usually is more expensive, and it's used for a lot of Asian recipes. Being that no one else wanted them, I took a bunch, and then came home, stumped. I mean, I knew there were so many recipes using daikon, but as soon as I tried to think of one, my brain blanked.

So I turned to the internet for help, and was recommended that I make a Cantonese recipe, lo bak go, known in English as turnip cake (even though daikon is a radish, not at turnip), more accurately called radish cake sometimes, and for some strange reason known in Singapore as carrot cake.

Turnip cake is a common dim sum dish. It is naturally gluten free, and though traditionally has Chinese sausage and shrimp in it, can easily be made vegan, as I did. And it's allergy friendly as well.

It is traditionally eaten on Chinese New Year.

I was worried when I made it that it would have an overwhelming turnipy taste, but it is such a delightful dish, especially when served with dipping sauce. I served it to a friend who came over, and exclaimed that it tastes amazing, just like restaurant food. Score!

Lo bak go is first steamed, and then cut up and fried until crispy. The outside is crispy and the inside is soft. Some people don't fry them, either for taste or health reasons, but in my opinion, its more enjoyable fried.

These turnip cakes can also be stir fried and used to make another dish commonly found in Singapore, something I'm also planning on trying out.

The nice thing about this dish is that you can make the cake in advance, and then freeze it (or part of it), and then defrost it then fry it up. Or if you fry it up and have leftovers, they will crisp up nicely again upon refrying it for a few minutes.

If you don't have daikon, or daikon isn't cheap where you live, I am certain that this recipe will work well with regular turnips (even though daikon is a radish, simply based on taste), just use two of them, since daikons are larger. I plan on trying it out and letting you know.

Though I found many different recipes for lo bak go, this was the recipe I used as my base.

Dim Sum Cantonese Turnip Cakes Recipe, Lo Bak Go, Gluten Free, Vegan, Frugal

1 daikon radish
1 cup water
7 shitake mushrooms, dry or fresh
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons oil of choice
1 1/4 cup rice flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon jaggery or other sweetener of choice
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 cup water from soaking shitake mushrooms
Oil for frying
Scallions (optional)
Sriracha (optional)
Soy sauce (optional)

1. Peel and grate your daikon radish.

2. Mix with a cup of water, put it in a wide pan on the stove, and cook, mixing occasionally to make sure it doesn't burn, until the daikon is cooked and much of the water has evaporated.

3. Meanwhile, if using dried shitake mushrooms, pour boiling water over them and let them soak for at least 20 minutes.

4. Finely dice up your onion and garlic and shitake mushrooms.

5. Fry up your onion and garlic until starting to get golden, then add the mushrooms and saute for a few more minutes.

6. Depending on how turnipy you want your dish to taste, either rinse off and squeeze out your cooked daikon, or simply strain it.

7. Add your onion, garlic, and shitake mushrooms, the rice flour and corn starch, and then one cup of liquid. This can be the liquid left from cooking your daikon, the water from soaking the shitake mushrooms, a combination of the two, or plain water if you used fresh shitake.

8. Add the sweetener, salt, and sesame oil, and mix well.

9. Place in a well oiled pan to steam using this method, or in a parchment paper lined steaming basket.

10. Steam for 40 minutes.

11. Remove from steamer and cool for 30 minutes.

12. Slip a silicon spatula around the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan, and flip it upside down.

13. Slice into 1/2 inch thick pieces.

14. Cut into rectangles, or squares, as desired.

15. Fry in oil until browned on one side, making sure not to move it until it is completely crisp, then flipping over and cooking on the other side.

16. Serve hot, either plain, drizzled with sriracha, sprinkled with scallions, dipped in soy sauce, or all the above.


Have you ever had lo bak go or Cantonese turnip cakes before? Have you ever heard of them before? Does this look like a recipe you'd try? What would you make with a bunch of daikon? How much does daikon cost where you live?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Never heard of turnip cakes, but will try this (with turnips. No daikon here! And I wonder how these would be with rutabaga...)

    1. I think they would be just as good with rutabagas! To me, Daikon does not have a turnip taste, it has a mild radish taste (which figures!), but I also love the taste of turnips and rutabagas. I think you could mix the two, as well, The color would be pretty. This recipes sounds wonderful. I can't wait to get to the store for some daikon - I'm lucky they stock it at a nearby market. And I already have dried shiitakes and the other ingredients. I've had this in restaurants - it's KILLER good! So glad to have this recipe!

    2. You were right...rutabagas work well. And the color came out beautifully. Next time I'll try mixing the two. Thanks, Maggie!

  2. This is one of my favorite dim sum dishes! In English we call it 'Radish Cake' and Lo Bak is a very large Chinese (or Japanese) Radish. I'm actually not that fond of it in other dishes however, as the radish flavor can be very strong. My mother was fond of Lo Bak radish, but I haven't ever cooked with it. My sister has made Lo Bak Go, as it is her youngest son's favorite--she said it is a lot of work! I simply enjoy it at Chinese dim sum restaurants--and it is definitely better crisped up and hot off the griddle! It's fairly inexpensive in the Seattle area of the USA, but something that is normally only found only in Asian supermarkets or vegetable stands, even in Oregon or California. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Never cooked with these radishes before, but it does look interesting. I had found these radishes sometime back at a local vendor but didn’t know how to use them. This recipe looks fresh. I will give it a go next time!

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