When I was a kid growing up in upstate New York, we kids made pancakes frequently for breakfast on Saturdays. One day, my father suggested that we make a savory version of Chinese turnip pancakes.
These days, all sorts of Asian style or Chinese pancakes are quite common…scallion pancakes, Korean kimchi pancakes, etc. but to those of us growing up in the boonies back then, we thought we’d hit the jackpot.
The version in this Chinese turnip pancakes recipe is one of my favorites using Chinese turnips (daikon radish is also okay to use).
If you’ve ever been to dim sum and had Chinese turnip cakes (law bok goh, loh bak gou, or however the heck you spell it), these pancakes are a much easier way to get a similar flavor…with the turnip, scallions, and Chinese sausage traditional to those cakes.
Normally, there’s also dried shrimp involved. This time, I left the dried shrimp out at Sarah’s request but next time I make it when she is not around, the dried shrimp is going in for sure!
Feel free to try different combinations of ingredients and flavors in these Chinese turnip pancakes. If you have a good customized version, let us know in the comments!
Rinse the Chinese sausage (lop cheung), dice it up, and set aside. If using bacon, simply cook the bacon until it’s crisp and still a bit chewy, and then dice.
If using the dried shrimp, rinse in warm water, and give them a rough chop. Wash and chop the scallions. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the scallion for the dipping sauce. Wash and peel your Chinese white turnip/daikon radish, and grate 1 cup with your box grater.
Make the batter by putting the flour, cornstarch, salt, white pepper, egg, water, sesame oil, 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds, sausage, shrimp (if using), grated turnip, and chopped scallions into a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly.
Before you make your pancakes, make your dipping sauce by combining all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. There are no rules for this sauce! Make it spicy, make it sweet, make it vinegar-y with some black Chinese vinegar…
Heat the pan over medium-high heat and add 1 teaspoon of oil to the pan. Sprinkle some sesame seeds onto the pan and spoon about ½ cup of the batter on top of the sesame seeds.
Use a spatula to quickly spread it evenly across the bottom of the pan and form a round pancake. Sprinkle some more sesame seeds on top. Let the turnip pancake cook for about 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown on one side.
Flip your Chinese turnip pancake and press it down a bit. Add a little more oil to the pan if it’s dried out. Once that side is also golden brown, flip the pancake again and cook on the first side for a minute.
Flip again and cook the second side for another minute. So if you’re counting, you’re cooking each side twice. This gets the pancakes really nice and crispy.
Cut into wedges and serve your Chinese turnip pancakes with plenty of dipping sauce.