To me, food from hawker stalls is the best local food to indulge in or to introduce to my friends from overseas. The only problem is the amount of unhealthy oil used in hawker food.
Chwee Kueh (steamed rice cakes), Fried Carrot Cake, Fried Hokkien Mee… Yes, yes and yes! But less oil can?
When I tell people that my favourite local dish is the fried carrot cake, they often respond with:
It’s so oily!
My response to them would then be
Because you don’t use healthy extra virgin olive oil!
Now this might sound counterintuitive to some: using a healthy extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) to make your food less oily- but it’s true!
With EVOO, you don’t get the grease, the unhealthy saturated fats and the lingering oily feeling in your mouth, throat and stomach. Instead, when you use extra virgin olive oil for cooking, you get a fresh, unique kick, which not only draws out the flavours in your dishes, but also allows you to reap many health benefits such as the extra virgin olive oil omega 3.
Try out this recipe and you might very well start making your very own fried carrot cake at home after this!
What is Fried Carrot Cake?
Fried carrot cake, or chai tow kuay is a Teochew dish that originated from Southern China.
Known locally as carrot cake, it comes in two different varieties- black and white. As is surprising to many, this dish does not actually contain any carrot! The name comes from a loose translation of the Hokkien word for radish, which is the main ingredient in this dish. It is made by frying soft radish pieces with flour with egg, and sometimes prawns or oysters are added as an extra touch. This dish can be found in almost every hawker centre.
This recipe will describe how to make the white version. If you prefer black carrot cake, simple add 2 tablespoons of dark sweet sauce in step 6.
Fried Carrot Cake
Cooking time: 10-15 min
Serves: 4 people
For the carrot cake
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 2 tablespoons of Timperio Gentile
600 g grated white radish
200g rice flour
Salt and white pepper to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons of Timperio Gentile
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons sweet preserved radish (chai poh), chopped
3 medium eggs lightly beaten
1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
Sambal chilli and pepper to taste
Fresh coriander leaves (1 sprig) and spring onions (3 stalks, chopped) for garnishing
Fry radish in a wok or non-stick pot over medium heat. Add 100ml of water and cook for 10-15 minutes until radish turns translucent
Add the rice flour, salt, pepper and the remaining water and cook until mixture becomes thick (5-7 minutes)
Pour the mix into a cake tray and steam on high heat for about 45 minutes. Let it cool completely, then cut into bite sized chunks
In a non-stick pan, heat oil, add radish pieces and fry till lightly browned on medium to high heat (5 minutes)
Add garlic and preserved radish and continue frying till aromatic
Drizzle a little more EVOO to add some fragrance and moisture, add fish sauce, sambal chilli and pepper (optional). Mix well
Pour the beaten eggs over the mixture and allow eggs to set slightly (2-3 minutes). Flip over in sections and fry on the other side (2-3 minutes)
Garnish with spring onions and coriander leaves and 1 more teaspoon of EVOO if you wish
Take a photo to share with us and ENJOY!
Tips from a fried carrot cake lover
Black carrot cake is slightly sweet as it is made with dark sweet sauce. The texture is also softer, while the white version can be crispier with the radish pieces giving more bite. If you can’t decide which you prefer, make both! I think that the two versions complement each other very well and I often eat both together on the same plate, sometimes mixing them together in each mouthful!
If you want more varied flavours in your homemade fried carrot cake, try adding some peeled prawns (4-5) or oysters (2 tablespoons). Or if you are a vegetarian, add some beansprouts for a bit of crunch and flavour. I also like to prepare the radish cake one day before and allow it to cool in the fridge overnight, making it easier to cut and be ready for frying the next day.
If you feel like indulging in a hawker centre version, I will recommend some of my favourites:
Yuan Cheng Carrot Cake- 79 Telok Blangah Drive, Telok Blangah Food Centre #01-33. I prefer the black carrot cake here, as it is soft and full of flavour!
He Zhong Carrot Cake- 51 Upper Bukit Timah Road, Bukit Timah Market & Food Centre #02-185. Only white is available, radish cakes are homemade and taste rightly so!
Ang Mo Kio 107 Carrot Cake- Block 107 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4. My all time favourite carrot cake! Generous portions, moist and flavourful. Order both black and white
An article written by Claire, a Singaporean friend of Timperio