How to Get Your Kids to Eat Turnips and Love Them
If your kids are like my kids, they are reluctant vegetable eaters. My youngest, especially, dislikes almost every vegetable except carrots and green beans. I try to serve a variety of vegetables very often, thinking that he will get used to them. We have even taken to putting vegetable juice in his morning fruit juice to make sure he is getting some of that veggie goodness. He knows it’s in there (we are not believers of concealing veggies in our foods so as to “trick” them into eating them) and he eats what I give him, but he doesn’t like them.
However, this week, he and his older brother were begging me to cook some turnips. Now, normally, they wouldn’t go near a turnip if their life depended on it, but during the Chinese New Year season, this turnip dish is their favorite thing to eat.
Steamed Turnip Cake.
This cake, like the Red Bean Cake from last week, is really not much to look at. They are both basically steamed rice cakes, but that is where the similarity ends. The turnip cake is a savory creature, with shredded, cooked turnips mixed in along with a generous helping of bacon, sausage, and bacon fat. Yes, bacon fat.
I suspect it is really the bacon fat that makes this treat so delectable. That, and we serve them sliced and fried, just like the red bean one. It gets this really great crispy crust on the outside and it’s soft and fluffy on the inside. In every bite, you get a little bit of bacon or sausage that lends a great textural contrast to the softness of the cake. Finally, the soy sauce dip gives this treat a salty hit that any kid or adult would love.
This recipe makes a fairly soft rice cake that can be a little tricky to slice. You will need to grease your knife between slices to make it easier. I just use a vegetable oil spray. Alternatively, you can make this stiffer by adding more rice flour.
Steamed Turnip Cake
2 pounds Chinese turnips, peeled and shredded
5 quarter-sized slices of ginger
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3 Tablespoons rice wine
1 cup water
12 ounces rice flour
6 ounces glutinous or sweet rice flour
1/2 Tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
3 Chinese sausages, diced
4 ounces or 6 slices of thick cut bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/4 inch strips
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
1/4-1/3 cup bacon fat or lard
3 cups water
- Line 2 – 8 inch cake pans with plastic wrap. Spray with vegetable oil spray.
- Combine turnips, ginger, garlic, wine, and 1 cup of water in a large dutch oven. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat to low. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the turnips are soft. Remove the ginger and garlic and discard. Mix in the bacon fat.
- Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl until evenly mixed. Pour into the pot with the turnips and combine thoroughly.
- Place over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly to keep the mixture from sticking to the pot.
- Divide the mixture between the two cake pans and smooth the top. Place in your steamer and steam over boiling water for 40 minutes. A toothpick should come out relatively clean.
- Set aside to cool. Wrap tightly and refrigerate overnight.
- Slice the cake into halves and then cut them crosswise into 1/2 inch slices (as many as you want to serve). Fry in a nonstick pan over med-high heat for several minutes per side.
- Serve with soy sauce dipping sauce (see below).
Soy Dipping Sauce
Mix together in a small bowl:
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
a few drops of red pepper oil
a couple dashes of coarse ground korean pepper powder