Savory Chinese Carrot Cake

4 Servings
1 hr 50 min

This is not the carrot cake you are thinking of. It’s not sweet or slathered in cream cheese frosting. This is rather a dish that you typically find in a Chinese restaurant during dim sum. Interestingly enough, the reason it is called carrot cake aka radish cake is because in Chinese, the word for radish translates to white carrot. And, traditionally, this dish does not contain any carrots at all but rather daikon radish. I decided to change things up this fall when we ended up with an overflow of carrots from the garden and replaced the daikon radish with carrots instead. It turned out very well and the family was quite pleased with the substitution. We like to enjoy this carrot cake for breakfast or as a snack.

Savory Chinese Carrot Cake
Recipe details
  • 4  Servings
  • Prep time: 20 Minutes Cook time: 90 Minutes Total time: 1 hr 50 min
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Carrot cake
  • 3 tbsps canola oil
  • 145g lean ground pork
  • 1 tbsps grated ginger
  • 340g grated carrot
  • 1 tbsps shaoxing wine
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 scallions talks, finely minced
  • 2-21/2 cup water
  • 155g rice flour
  • 12g cornstarch
  • 1 Chinese sausage, finely diced
Frying carrot cake
  • Canola oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Cooked and cooled carrot cake, sliced

In a large pan, heat 2 tbsps oil until hot and add in the ground pork. Sear for about a minute, breaking it up into small pieces. Mix for another minute or two until the pork is no longer pink.
Add in the diced Chinese sausage and cook for another minute.
Add in the ginger and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
Add in the shaoxing wine and carrots. Mix and then add in 2 cups of water.
Add in the salt, pepper, sesame oil and stir fry for a few minutes. Add in the scallions and turn off the heat. Remove the pan from the heat.
Scoop out the meat and carrot mixture into a medium sized mixing bowl leaving behind as much liquid as possible in the pan.
Pour out the remaining liquid into a measuring cup. Now, add in enough water to total 1 2/3 cups of liquid. Add the liquid into the mixing bowl.
Add the rice flour and corn starch to the mixing bowl. Mix everything together until well combined.
Prepare your steamer, ensuring there is enough liquid for the carrot cake to steam for about 1 hour. Turn the heat to high.
Use the remaining 1 tbsp of oil to coat a 9x5” loaf pan. Give your carrot cake batter a stir and pour it into the loaf pan.
When the water in your steamer is boiling, put the loaf pan in the steamer basket. Cover lid, reduce heat to medium to medium-low and steam for about 1 hour.
After 1 hour, the top of the carrot cake should still look moist but the cake should look solid. Using a chopstick, pierce through the cake to see if it can slide in and out without sticking. If so, then the cake is done. Turn off the heat, remove the loaf pan to a wire rack to cool.
Allow the carrot cake to cool in the loaf pan. Do not attempt to remove it. Once the cake has cooled down, cover it with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator to chill overnight. This is a very important step. The carrot cake must be cold so you can cut and fry it properly otherwise it will turn to mush.
The next day, when you are ready to eat, remove the carrot cake from the loaf pan. Run a knife around the edge and tap it out into a cutting board. Slice into 1/2”-3/4” slices.
Heat a couple tbsps of oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. In a small mixing bowl, beat 1 egg.
Dip the carrot cake slices in the beaten egg and then place in the frying pan. Fry the first side until brown and crispy, flip and fry the other side. Continue cooking the remaining slices.
The carrot cake is best eaten warm but room temperature is acceptable as well. You can serve it with hot sauce or chili oil.
  • This steamed carrot cake can be frozen and defrosted in the fridge overnight and fried before eating.
  • Finely diced dried shiitake mushrooms is a nice substitute for the ground pork for a vegetarian version.