Radish Cake 蘿蔔糕


It always reminds me of Chinese New Year

when after the family’s 團年飯* and

everyone’s digesting that gargantuan feast

the cook would start shredding radishes

She squats on her stool

in front of the metal basin

that we bathe the babies in

and pushes the mountain of white radishes through

a grater as big as a wash board

In a hot dry wok the radish shreds

sweat out their bitter juice

then soak up the greases of

a medley of seared salt pork

mushrooms and shrimps

Cook tosses the lot with rice flour

salt and a dusting of white pepper

sweetening it with a fistful of sugar

Into the steamer the tins of pudding go

no water! she bellows, denouncing those

who bulk up their mixtures with batter

Then we would all go to sleep

with the scent of a promise –

a slice of radish cake for breakfast

pan fried to a caramelised crunch

with its centre soft and fragrant

(c) Mary Tang 2015

* Tuan Nian Fan 團年飯:the end-of-year family reunion dinner

About Mary Tang

An urban orchardist everyday, a volunteer regularly, a poet sometimes and a blogger since March 2015. I travel when I can. Food is a constant.
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