Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Couldn't Wait Until the New Year

I know this dish, law bock gow or turnip cake, is traditionally served on New Year's Day, but since I can find it all year round in dim sum houses, I help myself to a slice or two whenever I get the hankering.
And since I've discovered a place on Clement Street in San Francisco called Wing Lee Bakery that makes the most ethereal turnip cake, I get the hankering often.
I'm really no expert on dim sum, but this version is more tender, pudding-like, than the usual rubbery slabs I've enjoyed (and I do mean enjoyed).
For the uninitiated, turnip cake is made from Chinese turnips, which resemble Japanese daikon but are not the same. The cooked turnip is mixed with rice flour, some of the turnip-cooking liquid, dried Chinese mushrooms, Chinese bacon and dried shrimp, and then steamed in a cake pan for about an hour. When the cake is set, it's allowed to cool and then refrigerated.
At yummy time, the cake is sliced into flat squares like the one you see here, and fried briefly until golden, and then served with oyster sauce or soy sauce.
If your first reaction to this is, "I don't even like turnips, so why would I try that?" then I should warn you that these savory-tinged-with-sweet little bits of heart's delight are, admittedly, a little stinky. And I should probably just let you off the hook.
But every person I've managed to persuade to try them has become — well, hooked.


Greg said...

sometimes stinky is good. gonna try it next dim sum.

Kalyn said...

I love turnips, and we do have dim sum in Salt Lake (believe it or not). I will have to look for this. It sounds great.

Got a very, very cool camera. I'm really excited. I'm reading the stuff and trying to learn how to work it, so look for a picture of something (hopefully) soon.

cookiecrumb said...

greg: Yeah, you might like it. Or you might not. But you will have tried it! Let me know.
kalyn: Except these are really lengthwise turnips, but how different can the taste be? BTW, is rice flour a no-no for you, cuz there's a lot? (Can't wait for the pix!!)

Jamie said...

You had me until the dried shrimp. I only learned to love regular shrimp, like, two years ago, so dried ones are still too much to ask. :-)

cookiecrumb said...

Jamie, you will like these. I didn't even realize there's dried shrimp in there until I read a recipe. (Think of them as shrimp jerky!) The bacon is pretty skimpy too, in fact.

Kalyn said...

Yeah, rice flour would not be a low carb food, but I'm not a fanatic. It can't be any more high in carbs than sushi which I have never given up eating. I just eat lower carb stuff most of the time and things like this once in a while.

Sam said...

what is the cross street
are there any other dishes there ou recommend also?
did you take that pic in the restaurant??
are there any more questions i can ask you?

cookiecrumb said...

Sam: Jeepers, I had to wipe your drool off my screen! :)
The cross street is 6th Ave. It's at 503 Clement.
Yes, other dishes: I first fell for the place because of its sticky rice in lotus leaves. So fragrant (and huge). We also discovered their steamed pork bao are tender and tasty, and yesterday a friend told me the baked bao are great.
I took the photo at home... We've only done takeout there. It's a plastic bag kind of place.

cookiecrumb said...

And Sam: I thought of one more question you could ask me. "Is it across the street from Green Apple Books?"

McAuliflower said...

Mmmm I just had my first turnip cake at dim sum the other week. It was surprisingly good. I think that can be said for alot of dim sum!

cookiecrumb said...

McA: Yes! I'm thrilled you liked them. At first, it seems like it's going to be an "acquired taste," and sometimes that means... meh. But, yeah, these are nasty and wonderful all at once. And they store pretty well. We reheated some last night, and -- [does Quick Draw McGraw Snuffles-with-a-bone -- scroll down -- dreamy dance, and yes, I'm old].
And... ew, forgive me, I used to be an editor... "alot" is not a word. It's two words.

Randi said...

My best friend used to live on Clement!! I envy you living where you do. I grew up in So Cal, but now live in freaking freezing canada.

cookiecrumb said...

Randi: Anybody who's poking so far back in my archives gets an immediate answer.
I have a real problem with cold weather, but I'd love to emigrate to Canada. Fantasy.