When I was small, my grandma used to make a lot of Chinese traditional snacks and sweets during Chinese New Year. Fried dumplings and fried Chinese sweets balls are the most popular in our family.
There are many snacks that are only available during Chinese New Year. When I was a kid, I would eat until I could not eat anymore. And all of my family members would gather to have a big dinner filled with our favourite food. My memories of Chinese New Year have always been very sweet: Something that I would cherish forever. Now that Chinese New Year is approaching even though I am not in Hong Kong, I am trying to make some of these snacks to recreate the festive atmosphere.
Since I don’t have a sweet tooth, I tend to make savoury snacks. White Turnip Cake is a popular choice. I started to make my own Turnip Cake since last Chinese New Year. Before that, I helped my mum and grandma to make the Turnip Cake for the family. We would always make extra and give it to other family members, especially to the elderly to show our love and respect. I decided to carry on this beautiful tradition and made extra cakes and sent them to some of my friends and aunties here in London.
We use loads of the preserved ingredients to add the flavour to the cake, this includes: dried scallop, shittake mushroom, black fungus, shrimp, sausage and duck. It is not necessary to include every single one of them, but more the merrier. As it is extremely difficult to get halal preserved sausage and duck. So I am using minced lamb or beef as replacement.
Try to get fatter parts of the meat which brings a richer taste to the cake. The water content in the turnips varies so the amount of water you need to add to the cake will be different each time. I suggest you to start with adding a small amount of water and gradually adding more into it when needed. The same goes with the flour. The ratio that I use for turnip to flour is 5:1 but you can certainly add more flour if the result is too watery. Different turnip to flour ratio creates different consistencies and textures of the cake so it is worth experimenting it. Most people use 6:1, 5:1 or 4:1. I prefer 5:1 but of course it depends on how you like it.