Turnip Cake (Law Bock Gow)
The Game Plan
Cut the bacon into 3 equal pieces and place in a 9-inch shallow heatproof bowl. Bring water to a boil over high heat in a covered steamer large enough to fit the bowl without touching the sides of the steamer. Carefully place the bowl into steamer, cover, reduce heat to medium, and steam 15 to 20 minutes, or just until the bacon is softened and there are juices in the dish. Check the water level from time to time and replenish, if necessary, with boiling water. Carefully remove the dish from the steamer and set aside to cool.
Peel the turnip and grate to make about 4 1/2 cups. In a 3-quart saucepan, combine grated turnip and about 1 quart cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes, or until very tender. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, soak the mushrooms in 1/2 cup cold water 30 minutes, or until softened. Drain and squeeze dry, reserving the soaking liquid. Cut off and discard stems and mince the caps. In a small bowl, soak the dried shrimp in 1/2 cup cold water for 30 minutes, or until softened. Drain, reserving soaking liquid. Finely chop shrimp and set aside.
Remove the bacon from its dish and reserve the juices. Cut off and discard the rind and the thick layer of fat. Cut the remaining meat into paper-thin slices and then finely chop. In a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or skillet, stir-fry the chopped bacon over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until meat releases fat and just begins to brown. Add the minced mushrooms and shrimp, and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice wine, sugar, and pan juices from the bacon, and stir to combine. Remove from heat.
Return the cooked, drained turnip to the saucepan, add the bacon and mushroom mixture, and stir to combine. In a large bowl, combine the rice flour and the reserved mushroom and shrimp soaking liquids, stirring until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of the hot turnip broth. Pour this batter into the saucepan, add the salt, and stir until combined. The consistency will resemble that of rice pudding. Pour mixture into a heatproof 8-inch round, 3- to 4-inch-deep, straight-sided bowl, such as a souffl dish.
Bring water to a boil over high heat in a covered steamer large enough to fit the dish without touching the sides of the steamer. Carefully place the dish into the steamer, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and steam 1 hour, or just until cake is set and is firm to the touch. Check the water level and replenish, if necessary, with boiling water. Carefully remove the bowl from the steamer and allow to cool on a rack for about 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 to 4 hours.
Run a knife along the edge of the cake to loosen sides. Place a cake rack over the bowl and invert to unmold. Flip the cake right-side up onto a cutting board. Wrap the cake in plastic and refrigerate until ready to use.
When ready to eat, cut cake into quarters. Cut each quarter crosswise, not into wedges, but into two 2-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip crosswise into scant 1/2-inch-thick slices. This is the typical way of slicing a cake Chinese style.
Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or skillet, over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add just enough oil to barely coat the wok. Add the turnip cake slices in batches and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Serve immediately, with oyster sauce.