Today’s soup is nothing fancy, a simple pairing of thinly sliced daikon an stew cuts to make a simple and light soup. Stewing the beef until tender is key and I especially love it when the meat is so tender it kinda melts in my mouth. Another thing that I love is when I cut the daikon really really thin, they are almost transparent and very pleasing to look at in contrast to the rustic looking beef stews. Thinly sliced scallions and cilantro adds a nice fresh touch to the soup, so they not only make for a fine looking garnish, and I honestly believe that the soup is missing something without them.
Normally I eat the soup as is, with a bowl of steamed rice, and a couple of dishes. But when I want a quick and simpler meal, I boil some rice noodles to make a rice noodle bowl for a quick and satisfying lunch, kind of like Vietnamese pho.
Kue lobak or Chinese radish cake is one of the popular dish you can find in Chinese dim sum. But this snack is also a common street food you can find in Indonesia. In fact I grew up with this as one of the many snacks to choose from food carts parking outside my school compound. It was only later in life when going for a Sunday dim sum has become a family tradition that I learn that this is a standard dim sum offering.
Daikon and dried shrimp
The two essential ingredients to make this radish cake are daikon and dried shrimps. Chinese daikon is closer to Japanese ones, but if all you can find is Korean daikon, feel free to use that. Dried shrimps are called ebi in Indonesia, and you can most likely find them in the frozen section in your Asian market. Alternatively, you can also use Maesri shrimp powder since this doesn’t require refrigeration and is a safer bet if you need to get it online.
Steaming and Deep frying
Kue lobak requires a two step cooking process: steaming and deep frying. In the first part, a thick batter is poured into a greased pan and steam into a solid block of cake. Once it is totally cool, you can remove the steamed cake from the pan. Although technically the cake is fully cooked and you can eat it as is, everyone in Asia is used to having this as deep fried snack, so it feels kinda weird to eat it as is, though there is nothing wrong and you won’t get sick from doing so. The second step, of course, is deep frying. Most people use a square 8″x8″x2″ pan to steam the cake, and if this is the way you do it, then simply cut the cake into 16 slices (cut into 2 long blocks, then each block into 8 slabs) and deep fry. We love eating this deep fried radish cake with some chili sauce, and I think either sriracha or sambal oelek is probably the easiest option for most.