Turnip Cake at the Yimin Dimsum House in Ottawa
I have already given a basic introduction to Turnip Cake in my post about the ‘Lo Bok Gau’ served to me at the Newtown Restaurant and Bakery in Vancouver. That version wasn’t the best I have had, but it was still better than the dish pictured above, which I sampled at the Yimin Dimsum House in Ottawa’s China town. It looked fairly decent, but the quality was disappointing.
My preference for Turnip Cake, when I order it, is for the steamed mixture of Rice Flour and Daikon Radish (the ‘Turnip’), to be well-chilled and slightly dried out before being pan-fried to a nice crispiness on the surface. I really don’t care for versions where the cake is only steamed, and retains a stodgy and overly moist texture.
The Turnip Cake at Yimin Dimsum certainly gave the impression of having been cooked the way I like it, having been nicely seared to a golden, crispy brown on the outside, but on tasting it, it was obvious that it had only been very recently steamed and the inside was extremely soft. I like a little chewiness to the interior, but, in this case, it was almost jelly-like, with no ‘bite’ so to speak.
Now, I recognize that my criticisms above are matters of personal taste only, and that other Dim Sum afficionados might think the cookery job on this version of Turnip Cake very well done. However, my real quibble with this particular offering was the near dearth of any ‘filling’ ingredients.
Normally, the steaming mixture for Lo Bok Gau also includes a combination of chopped ingredients like Dried Shrimp, Chinese Black Mushroom, Chinese Sausage, and Chinese Ham. Some may also add some other specialties like shredded Conpoy, or even reconstituted Dried Abalone. Ideally, when served a few slices of Turnip Cake, there should be a decent scattering of different colored chopped ingredients easily visible.
Unfortunately, the Yimin Dimsum House, chose to be a bit, well, economical, in this regard. The were a few tiny fragments of Dried Shrimp scattered throughout, and a few other small pieces that I think may have been ham. The faint taste of shrimp came through in the odd bite, but the ham, or whatever, might as well not have been there for all it added by way of taste. I would be nearly so critical of the Turnip Cake at Yimin Dimsum if the cookery style were the only issue, but the chintzy use of additions made me feel I really didn’t get my money’s worth.