One of the most popular reads on this blog is my posting on steamed Chinese radish cake 蘿蔔糕. The same basic recipe can be adapted for a whole range of other root vegetables — such as pumpkin, sweet potato or yam — and a supporting cast of ingredients. These are traditionally preserved Chinese sausages and meats, dried shrimp, dried Chinese mushrooms etc., but you can substitute anything of your choice.
As I discovered with the steamed radish cake, it’s also no problem to omit the secondary ingredients and still have a tasty dish, especially if you are trying to cater to food sensitivities and avoid nasty preservatives. This is a good recipe for food rotation and avoiding wheat, gluten (does the 1 Tbsp of cornflour count?), sugar etc.
This time round I used a yam (a ‘real’ yam, not the taro I have been calling ‘yams’), and a slightly different flour mixture from the radish cake. This recipe is based on a ‘Five Spices Yam Cake’ from the bilingual cookbook, ‘Steamed Cake & Kuih Muih 蒸蛋糕與糕點的喜悅’ by the Malaysian publisher, Famous Cuisine.
400g yam (peeled and cubed)
handful of chopped shallots
300g rice flour
1 Tbsp cornflour
1 Tbsp wheat starch
1 1/2 tsp salt
1) Mix batter ingredients well, using hands to make sure that all lumps of flour are dissolved.
2) Stir fry the shallots until fragrant, then add yam cubes and fry till they are cooked.
3) All filling to the batter, keep stirring on low heat till it thickens. Be careful as the corn flour causes thickening very quickly.
4) Remove from heat and pour into a steaming tin.
5) Steam in preheated steamer at high heat for 35-40 mins or until cooked through. Leave to cool.
6) Serve with toppings of your choice, for example – as shown in photo:
* homemade chili sauce made from fresh pounded chillies only
* chopped spring onions
* fried shallots
Other possible toppings:
* sesame oil
* sesame seeds
* dried seaweed such as nori strips or aoi nori
* soya sauce (for those who aren’t sensitive to it!)
This steamed cake turned out more firm than the radish one. And while the radish was cooked until it disintegrated and mixed with the flours to form a smooth batter, in this recipe, the yam and shallots floated to the top creating a distinct layer. This is most delicious eaten steamed & warm, but also great for bento.