Not to be confused with baked carrot cake (the one with cream cheese frosting), the Chinese fried carrot cake or chai tow kway as it’s known back home in Singapore is one of my favorite childhood dishes. A good fried carrot cake has plenty of garlic and salted radish (chai poh) and the “kway” has to be soft, not mushy, and able to hold it’s shape. You can get it black (fried with a sweet black sauce) or white (as pictured above). As a child, I liked mine black. Now, I prefer it white. Oh, it also doesn’t have any carrots in it – just white radish. Don’t ask me why it’s called carrot cake.
I was craving for some fried carrot cake and decided that I should try my hand making it. The first step was to get a hold of some pig fat to render me some lard – yes, fried carrot cake should be fried with lard. It just makes things taste better. The second step is to use a good, reliable recipe – Kitchen Tigress’ recipe is well-reviewed and I have a made a few other things on her blog with success.
To make fried carrot cake, the process starts the day before. You have to make the “kway/kueh”. Getting the texture right can be a little tricky, so I followed Kitchen Tigress’ recipe very closely. After steaming my kway for about an hour (20 minutes more than the recommended time), my kway was still “mushy”. I kinda started panicking, but the hubs told me to just let it cool and pray it solidifies. It did solidify as it cooled and the next morning (after refrigerating overnight), the texture was perfect. The hubs said he preferred the kway a little firmer, as such, I will try to cook it longer on the stove the next time round to remove more water. I, however felt the texture was just right.
Frying the carrot cake was relatively simple. The addition of beansprouts is not traditional – in fact I have never seen carrot cake in Singapore with beansprouts before, but a welcome change. The hubs liked the “freshness” the beansprouts gave to the dish. Feel free to omit it. The best part about making your own carrot cake is that you are able to control the amount of sugar, salt and fat added.
The hubs and I enjoyed the dish immensely and was reminded of home. So if you are craving for some fried carrot cake, try this recipe!
Chinese Fried Carrot Cake (Chai Tow Kway)
(taken from Kitchen Tigress; click here for recipe)
For the kway:
- 250g grated white radish (daikon)
- 480g water
- 150g rice flour
- 12g cornflour
- 12g wheat starch
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 220g water
For frying the carrot cake:
- 100ml lard, melted (if you don’t have lard, you can use vegetable oil)
- 40g minced salted radish or chai poh (rinse twice; soak 2-3 minutes in enough water to cover; taste and soak longer if too salty; drain)
- 20g garlic, peel and mince roughly
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- Sambal chili, to taste (optional)
- 2-4 eggs, depending on the amount of kway you are frying
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce, add to 4 eggs and whisk thoroughly, adjust amount if you are using more/less eggs
- 200g bean sprouts, rinse and drain thoroughly (optional)
- 40g spring onions, wash and chop roughly
- 1 tablespoon sweet black sauce or kecap manis (optional)
- To make steamed kway: The day before making the carrot cake – place radish in a small pot and add 480g water.
- Weigh pot and contents, taking note of the weight.
- Bring pot and contents to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, till radish is soft. This takes about 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, turn off the heat and let radish cool for about 10 minutes. .
- Weigh the pot and contents again. The target weight should be 100g lower than the initial weight. Add or remove water as necessary.
- Using a whisk, combine the rice flour, corn flour (starch), wheat starch, salt, oil and 220g water in a wok. Stir the batter till smooth.
- Add the liquid from the radish. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring at all times till batter is nice and creamy.
- Reduce the heat to low, add in the cooked radish and keep stirring till the batter is thick and resembles a thick porridge, Be careful not to overcook the batter till it is like dough.
- Transfer the batter into a lightly greased pan. I have used an 8-inch diameter round metal pan and a 9×9 inch square cake pan with success.
- Level and smooth top.
- Steam the batter for about 40 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
- Let the steamed kway cool completely before transferring to the fridge.
- The next day, cut the refrigerated kway into bite-sized pieces before frying.
- To fry the kway: Heat a wok or frying pan till it is hot.
- Add 2 tablespoons of lard/oil, swirl to coat pan/wok and heat oil until it’s about to start smoking.
- Add enough kway to form a single layer and fry till kway is lightly golden brown on all sides.
- Add the salted radish and garlic. Add more oil/lard, if needed.
- Add soy sauce and fish sauce, mix well.
- Add the eggs and more oil/lard, if needed. Flip the eggs and kway when the bottom of the eggs are golden brown. Fry till the other side is golden brown.
- If you want your carrot cake to be spicy, add the sambal chili to taste. If you prefer black carrot cake, add 1 tablespoon sweet black sauce/kecap manis.
- Add in the bean sprouts and fry till sprouts are lightly cooked, about a minute or so.
- Add the spring onions, fry. Taste and adjust for seasoning using sugar and fish sauce.
- Serve on plate and garnish with more spring onions.