Thursday, August 27, 2015

Singaporean fried carrot cake | chai tow kway | 菜头粿

this has nothing to do with carrots

Why is this dish called carrot cake when it has nothing to do with carrots or cream cheese frosting? In Singapore, cubes of radish cake are stir-fried with egg, green onion, garlic, and dried preserved radish to make chai tow kway. But when translating into English, the terms radish and carrot became interchangeable, so instead of being called fried radish cake or fried turnip cake, this dish became affectionately known as fried carrot cake.

hawker center in the morning | carrot cake for breakfast

There are two versions of the dish, the white version is cooked with a little fish sauce and the black version is cooked with a little fish and kecap manis or Indonesian thick sweet soy sauce. This dish is usually made with plain radish cake but at home, I make it with my turnip cake that has bits of Chinese sausage and shiitake mushroom mixed in the batter. Some people also throw in a handful of bean sprouts at the end with the egg.

Singaporean fried carrot cake
serves 1 - 2

8 ounces radish cake
2 - 3 eggs
1 ounce dried preserved radish
2 stalk of green onion
2 clove of garlic
optional: handful of mung bean sprouts
1 teaspoon fish sauce
white pepper
--black version--
1 teaspoon kecap manis
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce + 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

mix the sauce
If making the black version, mix the fish sauce and kecap manis (or dark soy sauce and sugar) together and set aside.

prep the ingredients
Chop the radish cake into 1 inch cubes. Beat the eggs. Cut the green onion in half, separating the dark green tops from the light green/white bottom. Chop the green onion into 1/4 inch pieces. Mince the garlic. Chop the dried radish, rinse under cold water, drain and set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, heat 2 teaspoons of oil over medium high heat. Add the radish cubes and stir occasionally and cook until most surface are golden brown.

Add the white and light green onion pieces and dried radish pieces, continue to stir fry for 30 seconds, add the garlic stir-fry for 10 seconds until you can smell the garlic.

when to add the sauce
If making the black version, add the sauce mixture before adding the eggs (I like to add sauce before the eggs to keep the eggs yellow in the final dish). If making the white version, add the fish sauce after adding the eggs.

Lastly add 2 more teaspoons of oil, the green part of the green onion, pinch or two of white pepper, bean sprouts if using. Add the beaten egg and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Serve with sambal or sriracha.

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