“Water chestnut cake (simplified Chinese: 马蹄糕; traditional Chinese: 馬蹄糕; Jyutping: maa5 tai4 gou1) is a sweet Cantonese dim sum dish made of shredded Chinese water chestnut. When served during dim sum the cake is usually cut into square-shaped slices and pan-fried before serving. The cake is soft, but holds its shape after the frying. Sometimes the cake is made with chopped water chestnuts embedded into each square piece with the vegetable being visible. One of the main trademark characteristics of the dish is its translucent appearance. It is one of the standard dishes found in the dim sum cuisine of Hong Kong, and is also available in select overseas Chinatown restaurants.” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_chestnut_cake)
Occasionally when I visited dim sum restaurant, I will order this dish. It is a starch cake which is soft and springy with bits of water chestnuts. What is usually served in the dim sum restaurant is the pan fried version but at home, it is up to individual if you want to add another step of pan frying the springy cake.
I asked my kids which they prefer, obviously, they prefer the pan fried version. The reasons are simple, it is much more aromatic and you can immediately smell the difference half way during the pan frying. In addition, it’s crust is very slightly crispy and more chewy and come with the soft interior.
In this recipe, you will need to get hold of water chestnut powder in the supermarket. I have never seen other packaging and it is always sold in a paper box. I also cannot recall if there are any recipes that required the usage of water chestnut powder and I presumed that this flour is mostly used in the preparation of this cake.
If you look at the images of water chestnut cakes in the internet, you will note that some are light brown, some are yellow, some are rather translucent. For the light brown version, it is the traditional recipes using the yellow rock sugar (黄片糖） as in the picture above. However, if you can’t get hold of these sugars and use pure rock sugar, it will become translucent. Some recipes use custard powder to make it yellowish in colour.
For this illustration, I have used white sugar plus one tablespoon of brown sugar to colour the cake but I will advise you to get hold of brown cane sugar as required by the recipes.
This adventure is rather successful. It sets rather fast and it can be sliced beautifully. As i plan to give away most of it, I have used the side trimmings for the pan frying. The taste is good, not overly sweet and refreshing.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: Prepare an 8” diameter cake
- 250 grams or one packet of water chestnut flour
- At least 15 water chestnuts, skinned
- 120 grams of yellow rock sugar or white rock sugar
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar (omitted if yellow rock sugar is used)
- 1350 ml or grams of plain water
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Lightly greased a 8” diameter round tin suitable for steaming and get ready a steamer with enough water capable of steaming at least 30 minutes under high heat.
- Crush the water chestnut with the back of the knife and chopped it until fine. Set aside.
- In a pan, put 1/2 of the water, add the rock sugar and brown sugar, bring to boil and stir until the sugar dissolved. Add the water chestnut.
- While waiting for the rock sugar to dissolve, add the other 1/2 the water with the water chestnut flour, stir until well mixed.
- When the water boiled again, slowly pour the chestnut flour solution into the hot water, reduce the heat to medium.
- Stir the batter constantly until the batter thickens. It will take about 10-15 minutes. Slight lump is acceptable.
- Transfer the thickened batter to the lightly greased tin. Level it and steamed under high heat for at least 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Cool completely before unmould and cutting into desired pieces. You can pan fry the sliced cake under low heat until all the sides are golden brown. It can also be served chilled as a dessert.
I am not satisfactory with this set of pictures. Hope readers do not mind. But what I can assure readers is the taste and texture. It is rather addictive especially if you like water chestnuts. For Singapore readers who may be asking where I have bought the water chestnut flour, I bought mine from Sheng Shiong and this recipe uses exactly one packet.
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