This recipe is handed down from my mum's mum. This is NOT a dessert (not sweet), but more like a 'quick bread' for the Chinese. This 'cake' is usually made and eaten during the Chinese New Year or its slices are usually found all year round as dim sum in Chinese restaurants. This cake can be kept for 1 week in the fridge (but usually it's finished within a day!!)
You can chill it in the fridge, but it should always be eaten HOT after re-heating either in the microwave, or frying in a few tablespoons of oil.
Most of the dishes served during Chinese New Year are symbolic of something positive and hopeful.
Chicken and fish, for example, symbolise happiness and prosperity - especially when served whole.
Dishes made with oranges represent wealth and good fortune because they are China's most plentiful fruit.
Noodles represent longevity: therefore, they should never be cut!
Duck symbolises fidelity, while eggs signify fertility.
Bean curd or tofu, however, is avoided because its white colour suggests death and misfortune.
Turnips are cooked because their name (cai tou) also means "good luck".
Even though the overall recipe was very rich in chinese mushrooms and the use of dried shrimps, I feel that this recipe failed to re-create the original version of turnip cake found in many restaurants. I feel that this particular recipe used too much white pepper powder and spice powder therefore making the cake too "spicy." Also, it would be helpful if the instructions included the actual amount of turnips used instead of just saying "3 turnips" because turnips vary in sizes which may make the recipe confusing. - 18 Jan 2003 (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)
I really enjoyed this dish and have made it Thurday for the first time and again on Sat for a dinner party. I run a restaurant and made it Thursday for a dim sum new year's celebration. I took another reviewer's recomendation and reduced the pepper and 5 spice powder by half. I also reduced the sausage by about two thirds and the mushrooms to 8 dried. The concerns about the size of the turnips are not really relevant, although I did add some of the shrimp soaking liquid to make sure it was moist as my turnips didn't produce any liquid. I used brown rice flour the first time as my store was out of white and used white the second time with no significant differences in taste. One of my customers commented that it is the perfect vechicle for hot chili oil. - 09 Feb 2003 (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)
I remember making these cakes when I was growing up. Our grandmother would let us help her grate the turnips using a grater. It was so much fun! For the first time in my life, I tried to re-create my childhood favorite using this recipe, and it turned out to be great! My husband even helped me to grate the turnips. We think that when we have kids, we will have them join us for the yearly fun of making these savory gems for Chinese New Year. - 21 Feb 2002 (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)