After eating so many new and delicious dishes on my trip to Singapore and Thailand, I knew that I would have to try to recreate some of them once I got home!
I loved all of the curries that I ate, but one of the first dishes on my list to try was the radish cakes that I tried in the airport on my way home from Singapore (pictured below). They were pan-fried and served hot, and had a soft texture similar to potato with a subtle but noticeable radish flavour that I really liked.
All I knew about them was that they were made with white radish (daikon), so I got to work searching for more information about how to make them at home. I came up with a wide variety of recipes, many of which contained dried shrimp or other non-vegetarian ingredients. So I went with the simplest approach I could find and the least number of ingredients to come up with a version that I thought would be the most similar to what I had eaten.
It took me a couple of tries until they turned out the way I wanted, mainly because I don't own an actual steamer so it was a bit difficult to cook them properly with my makeshift steamer! But in the end, I came up with this version that I was really happy with! The texture wasn't quite as soft and tender as the authentic version, but I thought the taste was just right - the radish wasn't too overpowering, and I liked the subtle flavour from the white pepper and the cilantro.
I liked eating them on their own, but my mom thought they were a bit plain, so you could try serving them with a dipping sauce, or some plain yogurt (I liked them this way too). I also served mine as a meal along with an Asian pineapple slaw.
You do need to set aside a good chunk of time to prepare these, but the steps are pretty simple and most of the time is hands-off. I think these would be a great appetizer to serve as part of an Asian meal, plus they are vegan and gluten-free, so everyone can try them!
Daikon Radish Cakes
Adapted from various sources, including this recipe
1.5 cups grated daikon
3/4 cup water
1 cup rice flour
1 tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp sugar
a dash or two of white pepper (can substitute ground black pepper if you can't find white pepper)
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Place grated daikon and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Meanwhile, mix the remaining ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the radish and cooking water and stir to form a dough.
Transfer dough to a greased 8x8 pan and press down with a spatula to smooth the top (the dough should be about ½ inch high and will only fill about two-thirds of the pan).
Place the baking pan in a steamer and steam for 35-45 minutes. Remove the dough from the pan and slice into squares.
Heat about 1-2 tsp vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Transfer squares to the skillet and sauté for about 3-4 minutes per side, until they are lightly browned.
Makes 8 squares.