Try our savory pan fried Vegan Chinese Radish Cake (also known as turnip cake, white carrot cake, Lo Bak Go in Cantonese (蘿蔔糕) or Luo Bo Gao (萝卜糕) in Mandarin) for a delicious dim sum treat. This appetizer is super crispy on the outside and has tender Chinese five spiced daikon radish and mushrooms on the inside. Pure Bliss!
Try it dipped in our special dipping sauce too. You can now make vegan Lo Bak Go at home with our comprehensive step by step instructions and video.
- Why is it Different?
- Crispy Outside – Tender Inside
- How to Make
- How to Steam Dim Sum Without a Proper Steamer?
- Expert Tips
- Ratio of Ingredients
- Secret to a Tender Daikon Cake!
- Helpful Hints
- What to Serve with Dim Sum?
- Chinese New Year Celebration
- Frequent Asked Questions (FAQ's)
- More Vegan Chinese New Year Recipe Ideas
- Vegan Chinese Radish Cake
Why is it Different?
Unlike our traditional Chinese New Year Radish Cake made with Chinese sausage and dried shrimp, our savory vegetarian turnip cake recipe is actually vegan and gluten-free. Trust us you will never miss the meat!
This savory daikon radish cake recipe is made with shredded Asian daikon radish, dried shiitake mushrooms, fresh herbs, special spices, and rice flour. Then, the Lo Bak Go is steamed, sliced, and pan-fried to perfection. Fantastic appetizer for a Chinese dinner, yum cha (dim sum) or as a part of our 10 Fun and Easy Chinese New Year Recipes.
Crispy Outside – Tender Inside
When you read the word "cake", did you think we were making a sweet dessert? That’s a common mistake. Daikon cake is savory- NOT sweet. The reason it is referred to as a cake as it has rice flour and steamed like many Asian desserts.
Our Vegan Radish Cake is simply dreamy to bite into. First, the little crispy bits on the ends catch your senses and then once you take a bite the inside it is soft and tender.
The daikon radish mellows once it is cooked and combined with the mushrooms, herbs, and spices. The pan fried radish dim sum is savory, earthy from the mushrooms, a little spicy from the white pepper and aromatic from daikon, green onions and 5 spice powder. When all the umami flavors and textures unite it is a memorable bite.
Well don’t take our word for it, give this vegan dim sum treat a try yourself and impress all your guests this Chinese New Year. Dip it in a simple sauce of soy sauce, garlic, dash of Chinese black Chinkiang vinegar and a little ginger for a little bite of heaven.
This Asian radish is known by many names. Examples include Lo Bak Go in Cantonese (蘿蔔糕) or Luo Bo Gao (萝卜糕) in Mandarin. Also called Winter Radishes, White Radish, Oil Seed, Asian Radish, Mooli and Icicle Radish. Whatever then name, it’s an Asian white mild crisp winter radish that sweetens and mellow when cooked. Did you know that the word “Daikon” is the Japanese word for “big root”?
Daikon radishes are slightly sweet and slightly spicy. They look like a fat long white carrot. In addition, they are milder than the traditional red radishes that are used in salads. They also come in different shapes, sizes, and flavor profiles. However, most generally they are white and a little green near the stalk.
There are many different types of daikon radishes
- Cantonese Lo Bak
- Miyashige White Daikon
- Alpine Radish
- KN-Bravo Daikon
- and many more…
The long green and white Lo Bak Go is traditionally used in Hong Kong to make Chinese radish cakes. However, we used a fat and stout Korean Alpine radish as they looked super fresh. Some may say that the longer and skinnier daikon have a stronger taste and the larger rounder daikon are a bit milder in taste. Any type of daikon can be used for this recipe.
Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
The dried mushrooms soaked in hot water. Make sure to keep the soaking water as you will use this in the daikon cake batter. You can also use fresh pan-fried mushrooms too.
Chinese Five Spice Powder
The Chinese blend is an essential ingredient made from 5 spices (cinnamon, anise, fennel, Sichuan peppercorns and cloves)
We love the little spice kick. You can also use black pepper to taste.
Vegetable Bouillon Powder
In order to keep this recipe vegetarian and vegan use a vegetable bouillon powder. You many also use mushroom bouillon powder or the vegetable or mushroom “paste” bouillons. The reason we do not use soy sauce or liquid additives to flavor the vegan Chinese radish cake is the added liquid can change the consistency of the cake. We will talk more about that in the recipe below.
This is rice that has been finely ground into some flour. Please, DO NOT use “glutinous rice flour – also sometimes called sweet rice flour” that we use to make our Sweet Sticky Rice Chinese New Year Cake. These are two completely different types of flours with completely different recipe results.
This dry ingredient along with the rice flour gives this cake a very tender interior. You may also use potato starch in a pinch.
Spring onion and garlic give it that delicious taste and pop of color. You can also add caramelized onions to this recipe if desired.
Just a pinch to take the edge off the daikon. You can also use a sugar alternative of choice. Every type of daikon radish has a little different bite and spice to it. If your daikon is mellow, you can add less sugar. However, if the daikon is strong, add a little more sugar to taste.
How to Make
Just to let you know, this vegetarian and vegan Lo Bak Go recipe is a 2-day process.
It is VERY important that you let your steamed vegan Chinese radish cake chill overnight in the refrigerator, so it is easier to cut.
Soften Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
- Place dried shiitake mushrooms in a medium bowl.
- Add boiled water over mushrooms and leave soak for 15 to 30 minutes to soften.
- Reserve the mushroom liquid as you will use this later in the recipe.
- Remove the stem and discard or use in another recipe. Chop up the softened mushrooms and set aside.
Prepare the Daikon Radish
- Weigh daikon before peeling.
- Peel and grate. You can also julienne cut.
- Put daikon in pan or wok and add water.
- Cook until translucent and drain into a container for later use (reserve the liquid for later in recipe)
Sauté Mushroom Mixture
- Add a little oil to the pan and add the chopped mushrooms and sauté.
- Put in the garlic and continue to cook until aromatic.
- Add in green onions and season well with salt and white pepper to taste.
- Set aside and allow to cool.
Prepare Rice Flour and Cornstarch (Dry Mixture)
- Weigh and measure rice flour and cornstarch.
- Mix rice flour and cornstarch together and set aside.
Season Cooked Daikon
- In a large pot or wok, add cooked shredded daikon radish and Chinese five spice powder.
- Add in white pepper and sugar to taste.
- Next, add the vegetable bouillon or mushroom bouillon powder and stir to mix.
- Gather the mushroom juice you reserved and the daikon juice you reserved and measure. If the 2 liquid ingredients together do not equal 2 cups, add a little extra water to make 2 cups of wet ingredients.
- Place your daikon and mushroom juice (wet ingredients), cooled mushroom mixture, rice flour and cornstarch (dry mixture) near your stove top so you are ready to go.
- Place your stove top heat level to low.
- Add a tablespoon or two of the dry mixture along with a little bit (approx. ¼ cup) of the wet mixture at a time and stir well.
- Do NOT dump all the dry mixture and wet mixture together in the daikon. The goal is to create a smooth and perfect wet oatmeal consistency for the PERFECT vegan Chinese radish cake.
- Adding a little bit of the dry and a little bit of the wet at a time prevents lumps. More importantly, it prevents your turnip cake from being too wet or too dry.
- This is the exact method that was taught to us by the Hong Kong Culinary Academy. It is a tried-and-true method. This little at a time method is superior to mixing all the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients first hoping and praying that it works.
- In addition, this process solves any differences in the moisture level of the cooked radish or environmental issues like extra humid or very dry weather.
- Once you have added all the dry mixture and enough of the wet mixture, so it looks like a thick oatmeal texture, add the mushroom mixture to the daikon mixture and stir well.
- First things first! Before doing anything else, determine which size or shape pan (we will call this your ‘Cake Pan’) is going to fit inside your steaming device. If you do not have a steamer device, no worries. Check out or next section on how to create a makeshift steamer.
- Spray your cake pan with oil and line with parchment paper.
- Pour your prepared radish batter into the prepared cake pan.
- Place water inside of your steaming vessel. Put the steamer section that elevates the cake pan in. Then, place your filled cake pan on top. Place your lid on top. ( If you do not have any holes on your lid, crack the lid slightly so the top of the cake does not get wet. )
- Steam for about 55 minutes to 1 hour.
- Check for doneness with chopstick or toothpick. The toothpick should come out relatively clean after this amount of time. It not, steam longer.
- Allow to cool to room temperature and then cover it and place in refrigerator overnight.
Cutting and Storage
- With a butter knife, cut around the edge of the pan so it lifts out easily.
- Carefully, turn the pan upside down with the vegan cake facing down and the pan side facing upwards and tap the pan to release. Watch our video below for details.
- Remove the piece of parchment paper from the bottom of the cake.
- Have on hand a cup of water and a towel. After each slice of the cake, you are going to rinse your serrated knife with water and wipe with towel. This helps prevent the sticking. You can thank us later.
- If you used a round pan like us, cut the 4 round edges off first. Save the edges for the chef or immediate family as these will not be the perfect rectangular shape like the rest of the cake.
- Next, cut the vegan dim sum in long rectangular strips, and then again in half or really any way you want to. This recipe makes about 16 hearty slices.
- Leave out the pieces you will be frying to eat that day.
- You can freeze the steamed radish cake slices by wrapping in parchment paper and placing in a freezer safe bag or container for up to 2 months.
- The final step is to pan fry. Oil your iron skillet well and place burner on a medium high heat. Sear on both sides for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. (If you do not have an iron skillet that is okay. However, you get a better sear on this dim sum treat if you do)
- Serve hot with our special dipping sauce recipe below, sriracha sauce or our Homemade Sichuan Garlic Chili Oil.
How to Steam Dim Sum Without a Proper Steamer?
Our favorite way to steam is to use a big wide soup pot or Dutch Oven with a lid. Put an oven safe small bowl on the bottom of the pot upside down in the middle of the soup pan. Then, set the prepared pan just on top of the upside bowl. The savory Cantonese cake is heavy, so it will weigh down the small upside-down bowl.
Then, carefully add the water to the pan without getting any on the Chinese radish cake. Put the lid on the big soup pan over the cake and steam away.
Alternatively, you can cross two chopsticks in a wok with a lid and make the letter "X". Then, add water to your wok. Put a flat plate over the chopsticks and your Chinese Vegan Radish cake on top of plate. Put on the lid on top of your wok and steam away.
Check out our recipe and video for our Asian Steamed Fish. We demonstrate different makeshift steaming options when you do not own a proper steaming vessel.
- How to choose a good daikon radish? Make sure the radish is firm and should not be easy to bend. It should look fresh and be crisp. Try to choose one that feels heavy for its size and is free on blemishes. If it still has leaves, they should be green. There should not be any signs of mold or feel slimy. If it does, the radish may have gone bad.
- Get a scale and weigh your ingredients. Our cups and tablespoons are different than your cups and tablespoons. Some daikon radishes are denser and heavier than others.
- If you like the texture of daikon, be sure to also julienne cut some along with grating the radish. We like to do a little of both.
- Be sure to save the liquid from the soaking shiitake mushrooms. That is liquid gold and so tasty. If you forget and pitch it, don’t fret, you can use plain water in the cake batter.
- Save the cooked daikon juice too! If you like the flavor of daikon, this will add in a little extra flavor. On the other hand, if you do not want an intense flavor from the daikon, use only the mushroom water from soaking or water to the cake batter.
Ratio of Ingredients
Here is the ratio of raw daikon to dry ingredients and wet ingredients.
For our recipe, we used 900 grams of daikon (before peeled) to 180 grams of rice flour- 55 grams of cornstarch to about 430 ml (little less than 2 cups) of liquid.
This is the perfect ratio for a tender radish cake just like you get at the Chinese dim sum restaurants. However, your Lo Bak Go will be even better. This recipe is different as it is packed with delicious daikon and less rice flour.
Secret to a Tender Daikon Cake!
Only add a little bit of the dry ingredients (rice flour and cornstarch) followed by a little of the wet ingredients (mushroom soaking liquid and cooked daikon juice) at a time to cooked and seasoned daikon. Be sure to stir well between each addition. Keep the stove top temperature set on a low heat. Just a little of each at a time.
You will add all the dry ingredients, but you may have to add less or more of the wet ingredients to end up with a mixture about the consistency of oatmeal. When you push the spatula along the bottom of your pan it should leave a line but go back in a slow motion when it is the correct consistency. (Please watch the video below to see this in action)
Did you know the average size of a daikon is about 900 grams (2.0 pounds) and about 10 to 15 cm in length? However, some breeds like the Alpine daikon (like we used for this recipe) can be HUGE. So, we used half of the radish for the recipe.
- If a square pan will fit in your steamer device, use that instead of a round one. The reason being is that it is much easier to slice into equal rectangular slices. We had to use a round pan as that is what we had on hand. Use what you have on hand is ALWAYS our motto.
- Cool your steamed radish cake overnight in the refrigerator to make it easier to cut into slices.
- Be sure to rinse your knife and wipe clean between each cut of the steamed cake. This prevents sticking.
- Don’t skip the step of pan searing the steamed Lo Bak Go before serving as it really makes for a delicious crust and tender interior. An iron skillet gives a good sear, but any ordinary frying pan will work too.
- Do not air fry the daikon cakes! They turn to mush. We have tested air frying already for you. It’s a NO GO!
What to Serve with Dim Sum?
Traditional dim sum, like our vegan Chinese radish cake, is best served with a good Chinese tea. Some of our favorites are Jasmine, aged puerh or for a caffeine free herbal tea try our Tranquil Lemon Ginger Tea Recipe.
Cantonese Dim sum is usually served for brunch or early lunch time. It consists of serving many small plates of Chinese treats like our Homemade Chinese Dumplings, Hong Style Egg Tarts (Dan Tat) and Air Fryer Spring Rolls along with drinking tea.
Chinese New Year Celebration
The Chinese New Year (also known as Lunar New Year and Spring Festival) is China’s most important festival. Family members gather to celebrate the beginning of a new year on the Chinese calendar.
The celebration is about 2 weeks in length and runs from the Chinese New Year eve to the lantern festival which is celebrated on the 15th day of the year. During this time, family and friends celebrate together and wish good luck and prosperity in the new Year.
So, what do people do when they gather? You guessed it! They eat! Chinese radish cakes are often eaten during the Chinese New Year (CNY) as the radish cake characters look very similar to the saying “good luck”. If you want to learn more about the CNY Traditions, be sure to read our post on VRAI Magazine, Celebrate the Chinese New Year with Chinese Vegan Radish Cakes.
Frequent Asked Questions (FAQ's)
There are many reasons why your Chinese turnip cake (daikon radish cake) may be too soft.
1) First and foremost, you need to weigh your ingredients and add in the dry and wet ingredients little by little while over a low heat.
2) Add in a little of the rice flour and cornstarch dry mixture along with little of the mushroom soaking liquid or reserved daikon cooking juice. Stirring well before each addition. The perfect textured turnip cake has 900 grams of daikon radish, 180 grams of rice flour, 55 grams of cornstarch and about 2 cups of reserved liquid added. You may not need all 2 cups of liquid to get to the creamy oatmeal texture. If you scrape your spatula on the bottom on the pan while mixing the wet and dry mixture into the daikon batter, the daikon batter should leave a line but then slowly return to the bottom of the pan. We did not have add the full 2 cups to get the perfect consistency. Every daikon radish is different. Evaluate each batch you make.
3) Adding too much liquid may be the cause of it being too soft.
4) You might have not had the heat on low to absorb the excess liquid.
5) In addition, you might need to let the cake steam longer until set.
6) However, the most common issue of the cake being too soft is not refrigerating the radish cake before slicing. To make the cutting process easier, leave the cake chill overnight in the refrigerator before trying to cut into slices.
Most likely the reason why your turnip cake is too hard is because you have added too much rice flour or cornstarch to your daikon radish mixture.
The Chinese often refer to the radish cake as a turnip cake. No turnips are used in this recipe. However, it is sometimes called a turnip cake. A long time ago, someone called the Chinese radish cake a turnip cake. This may have occurred because when daikon is cooked it tastes somewhat like a turnip. Ever since, the turnip cake name has been used.
More Vegan Chinese New Year Recipe Ideas
Did You Like Our Recipe? Leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating and/or a review in the comments section below. Your feedback is always appreciated! Follow us for more delicious recipes on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook! Don't forget to sign up for our email list for more free recipes.
Kung Hei Fat Choy! Xin Nian Kuai Le! 新年快乐! (Happy Chinese New Year) -Wishing you much happiness, prosperity and longevity!
Vegan Chinese Radish Cake
- scale to weigh ingredients
- steaming basket or a large pot with lid with an elevated plate inside (see post for details)
- 9 inch cake pan or 8 x 8 square pan okay too
- parchment paper to line pan
- 12 dried mushrooms soaked for at least 30 minutes in hot water and chopped finely. Discard the stems. Reserve the mushroom soaking water as you use this in the recipe.
Cook Shredded Diakon
- 900 grams daikon radish peeled and shredded (or about 2 pounds). You can also thinly julienne slice radish for a little extra texture, if desired.
- 1 cup water
to help soften the daikon (reserve the radish cooking water for making the cake)- 8 ounces
Fry up the Aromatics
- 2 tablespoons oil or less if you use a non-stick pan
- prepared chopped mushrooms from above
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 4 green onions
chopped (white and green sections)
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
Seasoning for Cooked Radish
- 1.5 tablespoons Vegetable powder (Can substitute chicken powder if you are not vegan) Vegetable powder is the dried scoop-able version of vegetable bouillon. You can also use a vegetable bouillon cube and just crush and add to the recipe. We used a gluten- free brand to keep it gluten free.
- 1 tablespoon sugar
or sugar alternative to taste
- salt to taste
- white pepper
- 1.5 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder dried ground
Make Diakon Cake Batter
- cooked daikon radish from above Drain the daikon and reserve the juices
- 180 grams rice flour
only add a spoonful of rice flour and cornstarch mixture at a time to get to the correct texture consistency- we call this the soft cement consistency.
- 55 grams cornstarch
- 2 cups reserved daikon juice and mushroom soaking water or as needed to create the consistency of thick oatmeal. We used 1 cup of reserved daikon water from cooking the radish and almost 1 cup of mushroom soaking water. Only add a small amount of liquid at a time along with the rice flour and cornstarch mixture. Little by little.
- water for steaming (amount depends on steaming apparatus used)
- 2 tablespoons oil for frying Vegan Radish Cakes
Chinese Dipping Sauce - optional
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce tamari sauce if need it to be gluten free
- 2 teaspoons Chinese black rice dark vinegar
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger fresh - grated
- 1 chili pepper minced - optional
- Before you get started on the vegan dim sum recipe, soak mushrooms in hot water for at least 30 minutes to soften. Squeeze to remove extra liquid. Then remove stem and chop. (FYI- Make sure to reserve the liquid you soaked the mushrooms in as you will use this liquid later in the recipe) That is liquid GOLD!
Cook Daikon Radish
- In a large wok or pan, add shredded and/or Julienned sliced daikon radish and 1 cup water cook on high with a lid until softened. (about 5 to 10 minutes) The radish will change from being white and firm to lightly limp and translucent.
Sauté Mushroom Mixture while Daikon is Cooking
- In a separate pan, add in oil and chopped mushrooms and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Then, add in chopped garlic, green onions and sesame oil. Sauté 2 minutes or until aromatic and season with salt and white pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
Make Radish Cake
- Drain daikon radish in a strainer and press out the extra juice. Do NOT throw away this cooking liquid. Reserve this radish cooking liquid as you will use this later.
- Place the drained and cooked daikon back into the wok or large frying pan with the heat off. Season the cooked daikon with vegetable or chicken powder (vegetable bouillon cube crushed), sugar, salt, white pepper and five-spiced powder. All the water should be evaporated. Check the seasoning and add more salt or vegetable powder, if you want it more savory. Add more white pepper, if you like it more spicy. If your daikon is extra strong, add more sugar to taste. (FYI- every type of white radish has a little different flavor profile)
- Add the cornstarch to the rice flour in a bowl and mix well. This is the dry mixture for the cake. Set aside.In a separate bowl, add the mushroom soaking liquid from the dried mushrooms to the reserved diakon cooking liquid. You should have about 2 cups of liquid. If you do not have 2 cups of liquid, add a little more water to make 2 cups of total liquid. This is the wet mixture for the cake. Set aside.
- Place your Cooked and seasoned daikon radish mixture back on the stove burner and place on very low heat.
- Add a spoonful at a time of the rice flour and cornstarch DRY mixture with a couple of tablespoons of the reserved daikon water and mushroom water WET mixture a little at a time, to the daikon mixture, stirring continuously. Make sure it is well incorporated and has NO lumps. Repeat this procedure until all of the DRY mixture has been mixed in the cooked daikon with adding a little bit of the WET mixture. Stirring well with each addition. You may need all or a little less of the WET mixture to get to the desired consistency of thick oatmeal. A good parameter for checking the perfect consistency is to run your spatula at the bottom on the pan. If the daikon batter leaves a line on the bottom and starts to slowly return to the bottom of the pan. its perfect. Every daikon radish can be a little different as far as water content. In addition, your environment may be either more humid or dry. This procedure allows you to get the right consistency for your environment. We were taught this method in Hong Kong and it really is the best method. This procedure takes a few minutes but it is the best way to determine how much liquid is needed to het to the right wet cement consistency. We ended up using a total of 1 and ¾ cup of the WET mixture. You may need to add more or less.
- Turn the burner off. Stir in the aromatic sautéed Mushroom mixture to the diakon cake mixture.
- Either a 9 inch cake pan or 8 x 8 pan are both okay for this recipe. Oil your cake pan or square pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Scoop the batter into the cake pan and level it and smooth out the batter. (If your steamer is small, divide diakon batter into 2 smaller pans)
- Do not worry if you do not have a "big fancy steamer". You can use your wok and place 2 chopsticks at the bottom of your wok in an "x" formation, then place a small plate of top, carefully add water to the bottom of your wok about 2 inches or so on the bottom, then place your daikon cake dish on top of plate and then place a lid on top of your wok and steam.
- Alternatively if you do not have a wok, there is always plan B for steaming. I use my big soup pot that has a lid. It is very deep but not very wide so I have to split my daikon batter into 3 smaller ovenproof round dishes. I place a very small oven proof round dish upside down on the bottom of my soup pot, then I place my small bowl or daikon batter on top of the upside bowl so the weight of it holds down the upside down bowl. Then I carefully pour my water inside my soup pot about 2 inches on the bottom without getting any on my daikon radish cake. I then place a lid on my soup pot to cover and steam the radish cake.
- Steam over high heat for approximately 55 minutes - 1 hour or until a toothpick or chopstick comes out clean. If your steamer lid has small holes or does not fit snug - now worries, just make sure to keep adding water to the steamer area so that your pan does not burn. Carefully remove steamed radish cake from the steamer and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Then place the cake to cool in the refrigerator overnight. This is best so it is easier to cut.
- Make your dipping sauce. In a small bowl add soy sauce (tamari), black Chinese vinegar, garlic, chili and freshly grated ginger, stir and set aside.
- Slice cake into slices about 16 to 18 per cake. (Be sure to have a glass of water and a towel near by as with each and every cut you will put your knife in the water and clean with the towel. This helps prevent sticking.) If you have a an iron skillet, this promotes the best char on the Chinese vegan radish cake. However, if you do not have an iron skillet, just use a non-stick skillet.Put a little cooking oil in your iron skillet or frying pan and place the sliced daikon cake into the frying pan. Brown the daikon cake lightly on both sides (about 2 minutes each side) until golden brown. Garnish with green onions and serve with dipping sauce, Sriracha or our Homemade Sichuan Garlic Chili Oil . Serve hot and enjoy!