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Fried Radish Cake (Chai Tow Kway)

Fried Radish Cake

Fried radish cake (better known to Malaysians & Singaporeans) as Chai Tow Kway has always been my favourite Singapore hawker food.  There are two versions – the white and the black.  I personally prefer the black version – not sure why, but something about the black sweet sauce that called out to me 🙂

Finding a genuinely delicious Chai Tow Kway in Melbourne is like finding a needle in the haystack.  Most of the commercial restaurants out there put too much flour and little radish.  So, I decided to make it at home from scratch 🙂

As advised by the recipe writer, increasing the amount of radish and water will yield more tender texture, while more flour will give you more ‘bite’.  Based on the radish-water ratio, this recipe will yield more tender texture, which is the way I like.  I prefer to make the radish cake overnight so it’s easier to cut and fry the next day.

My hubby absolutely love this dish.  I have added more chai poh and garlic so it’s more aromatic.  The final dish goes really well with Lingham chilli sauce too :).  Try it.  I’m sure you will not be disappointed.

Fried Radish Cake ‘aka’ Chai Tow Kway (adapted from Rasa Malaysia)

Serves 4

Part 1 – Making radish cake 
600-700g grated radish + 50ml water
200g rice flour
250ml water
1/2 tsp salt

1. Pour the grated radish and 50ml water in a stainless steel bowl and steam over low heat.  Leave it for 30 minutes or until radish turns translucent.  Remove the cover and leave to cool.

2. Combine rice flour, salt and water in a bowl and mix well.

3. Once the radish is cooled, add the flour combination and stir.  The mixture should look like a watery coleslaw.  Pour them into a stainless steel steaming tin and steam over high heat for 40 minutes.

4. Remove the cover and leave it to cool completely.  It is best to cool this overnight so the radish cake firms up completely which makes it easier to cut into cubes later and does not stick to the knife.

Fried radish cake

Part 2 – Frying the radish cake 
3 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp chai poh (preserved turnip)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
5 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp fish sauce
Dash of white pepper
1 tbsp thick sweet sauce* (omit this if you are frying the white version)
2 tbsp chopped spring onion
Chilli sauce (add when frying or use for dipping)

1. Cut up the cooled steamed radish cake into small cubes.  Smaller cubes will crisp up better and tastier.

2. Heat the oil in a non stick pan.  Fry the cut radish cakes over medium to high heat – lightly brown and crisp the cubes. Be careful not to leave it too long as this will harden the texture inside and outside.

3. Add minced garlic and chai poh.  Drizzle more oil if it is too dry and fry till fragrant.

4. Add fish sauce, pepper (and chilli if you want spicy or leave it for later to dip).  Stir fry and mix well with the seasoning.

5. Pour beaten egg all over the radish cake and leave it to set for a few seconds. Flip the radish cakes and stir gently again. If you are making the white version, you can scoop up and serve.

6. If you are making the black version, drizzle the thick sweet sauce* (see note) all over the radish cake and stir to coat evenly.

7. Dish up and sprinkle with chopped spring onions.  Serve hot.


Note : The original recipe recommends “Rose Brand” thick sweet sauce but this brand is not available in Melbourne. Instead I found another brand called “Tiger Brand” with a similar tasting sweet sauce and ingredients (sugar, molasses, water, caramel).  This can be found at the Asian Grocery located at the corner of Lt Bourke and Russell St.  See pic below 🙂

Fried radish cake

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