Chinese Radish Cake

Recipe: Chinese Radish Cake

Makes : about 50 1-inch cubes | Appetizers/Snacks Dairy Free , Vegetarian


  • 8 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 pounds daikon radish, peeled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for cooking
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons gluten-free tamari
  • 1 1/2 cups white rice flour (I use Erawan brand)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Gluten-free tamari and/or chili oil, for serving


  • In a medium bowl, soak the dried mushrooms in the warm water. Grate the radish on the large holes of a box grater or with the grating attachment of a food processor. Measure 4 cups of grated radish--do not use more--and add it to a saucepan with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 2 tablespoons of water. Cover the pan and turn the heat to medium. When the water starts steaming, lower the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the radish is translucent, about 25 minutes.
  • While the radish is cooking, heat the tablespoon of oil in a frying pan over moderately low heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. (Keep an eye on them so they brown without burning.) Squeeze excess liquid from the mushrooms back into the bowl and then chop the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid. Add the chopped mushrooms to the pan with the shallots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about two minutes. Add the tamari and 1/4 teaspoon salt and remove the pan from the heat.
  • Generously oil a 9-inch round cake pan. In a mixing bowl, stir together the rice flour, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the sugar. Strain the radish in a sieve set over a large measuring cup to collect the liquid. Press down on the radish with a large spoon to remove most of the liquid. Add enough of the mushroom soaking liquid to the measuring cup to equal 1 cup total liquid. (Discard any remaining mushroom soaking liquid, or save for another use.) Let the liquid cool to lukewarm. Stir the liquid into the rice flour until smooth, and then add the radish and the mushroom mixture. Stir to combine. The batter should look similar to thin tapioca pudding. (If the liquid is too hot, it will start to cook the rice flour, forming more of a dough. If this happens, it's fine; just spread the batter evenly in the pan with your hands or a spoon.) Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Cover the pan with foil to keep water from dripping into the cake. Put the cake pan in a steamer set over a pot of boiling water and steam, covered, over medium-high heat for 1 hour. Check the pan occasionally to make sure the water does not run dry; add more if needed. Remove the cake pan from the steamer with tongs and cool to room temperature.
  • Run a knife around the edge of the radish cake and invert the pan onto a plate to remove the cake. (If the radish cake sticks, cut out a small piece, and then remove the rest with a spatula. You will eventually cut it into pieces anyway.) Refrigerate the radish cake, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 4 hours. The radish cake will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • For serving, cut the radish cake into 1-inch cubes. Pat the cubes dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel to remove any moisture. In a large nonstick frying pan, heat about 1 tablespoon of oil (or bacon fat!) over medium-high heat. Add half the radish cake cubes and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat with the remaining radish cake or save the rest for later. Serve hot with soy sauce and/or hot chili oil for dipping.


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  1. Zoe says:

    All the effort seems well worth it! While the recipe is a little involved, I like the simplicity of the ingredients. Thanks so much for sharing, Laura.

  2. Debbie says:

    Can this be make with turnips instead?

    • laura says: (Author)

      This dish is often called “Chinese Turnip Cake” and made with Chinese white turnips. I don’t personally know how the flavor translates with the type of turnips we’d find here, but it seems like it could be an interesting experiment. My only comment would be that often the Chinese or Korean turnips I’ve seen are really large, so you’re getting the same type of volume you’d get from a huge piece of daikon radish. Western turnips are so small; you may be peeling and grating for a long time.

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