Do you revisit recipes to see if you can better them? I do. It’s practically a professional obsession. My friend, veteran cookbook author Molly Stevens and I were just talking today about how our curiosity pushes us to tinker and tweak. Sometimes, however, it’s a vicious cycle and you have to know when to call it quits. Obsessions can turn into distractions.
Yesterday, I took another look at a dim sum recipe that I’d worked through years ago. It’s a daikon radish cake – the pan-fried white slabs that you get at dim sum. When done right, luo bo gao has a lovely crisp outside and tender inside. When done poorly (the cook under-fries), the radish cakes are more soft than crisp.
Luo bo gao is easy to make and on this attempt, I wanted to check three things: (1) Am I okay with the softer texture of using only rice flour; (2) can I use rice flour from the health food store instead of Asian rice flour; and (3) can I freeze the finished cakes to bank my effort?
The original recipe came from Wai Hon Chu’s The Dumpling: A Seasonal Guide (William Morrow, 2009). Wai learned from his father to add wheat starch (a Chinese ingredient used for har gao dumpling dough and some noodles) to firm up the cake. Many recipes use just rice flour. While I like Wai’s texture a lot, I was prompted to try just rice flour to accommodate people with serious gluten issues. Wheat starch may have traces of gluten in it.