Not too long ago, I finally caved in and bought myself a new kitchen toy – a vegetable spiralizer. I’d been toying with the idea of getting one for well over a year now and I put it off because I have a box grater and a julienne peeler which can essentially do the same thing: make vegetables into strands. The problem was that both of those tools made short, non-noodle like strands, and they can to be a little harder on the knuckles, especially if you’re trying to get free child labor your child to help in the kitchen. The bonus in finally owning a spiralizer is that there is a certain novelty to having your vegetables in noodle form, so that’s resulted in more vegetable-eating and, the gadget is so easy to use that my son will happily help with this part of the food prep!
This recipe is inspired by the turnip cakes or ‘lo bak go’ (蘿蔔糕, disclosure: I can’t read that, but that’s what Wikipedia tells me it is) that you can get at dim sum. Dim sum, for the uninitiated, is a Chinese lunch-ish meal where small plates are served literally à la carte). Unfortunately for me, the turnip cakes are usually made with either regular wheat flour or rice flour – neither of which I can tolerate. They also usually use lap cheong, a delicious, sweet-savory Chinese sausage. Again, because of my food intolerances, I haven’t been able to find a Chinese sausage that doesn’t include questionable ingredients like food coloring. I may risk it sometime just to see what happens because they’re that good, and would be a very tasty addition to this stir fry. In any case, I had a ‘lo bak’ (also known as a daikon radish), and decided to mix it with some shiitaki mushrooms, a package of frozen shrimp and scallops that I had on hand. The dim sum turnip cakes usually have dried shrimp or scallops with them, so seafood seemed to be the perfect accompaniment to this dish. This probably isn’t a dish my mother would make, but then again, most of the dishes I make are a bit too North American ‘fusion’ for her 😉 Hopefully though, you’ll enjoy this as an easy way to get the flavors of Chinese cooking without all the fuss of having to steam your own turnip cakes.
Choosing Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms are a staple in many Asian dishes. Unlike white button mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms have a meatier, more savory (or ‘umami’) taste. Shiitake mushrooms are readily available in any Asian market, or in the international section of major grocery store chains. You’ll usually find them dehydrated, in a plastic bag or sometimes even in a fancy box that is ready for gifting. That’s because these mushrooms can be quite expensive and can make the perfect gift for your Asian host/hostess, or foodie. You’ll also generally get what you pay for. Look for whole mushrooms that aren’t pre-sliced (as it’s harder to tell the quality when they’re already cut up). The mushrooms tend to have a more intense flavor when you can see fissures on the caps.
To prepare dried shiitake mushrooms, you’ll need to rehydrate them first. You can either do the “oh crap, I just remembered I should start dinner” method in using boiling water to soak your mushrooms, which takes about 20-30 minutes of soaking. Or for a more full flavor, you can soak your dried mushrooms in filtered water overnight.
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Lo bak (daikon) noodle stir fry
10-12 dried shiitake mushrooms
1-2 tbsp coconut oil or cooking fat of your choice
1 lb frozen shrimp and scallops
3 green onions chopped
1-1/2 tsp of white pepper (omit for AIP)
1-1/2 tsp of sea salt
1-1/2 tsp of grated ginger
1 medium-sized lo bak (aka daikon radish or Chinese white turnip), about 8-10 cups once spiralized
1-2 tbsp wheat-free soy sauce or coconut aminos
In a small bowl, soak your mushrooms with enough boiled, filtered water so that the mushrooms are covered. It should take about 20-40 minutes to soften, depending on the thickness of your mushrooms. Squeeze out all of the water, cut off the stems and slice the mushrooms.
Heat coconut oil or your preferred cooking fat in a wok on medium-high heat. Add your sliced mushrooms, shrimp and scallops, green onion, white pepper, ginger, sea salt. Stir-fry until the shrimp are translucent, and slightly undercooked. Remove everything from the wok and set aside.
Add more coconut oil or cooking fat to your wok, and add your spiralized lo bak/daikon noodles. Season with soy sauce or coconut aminos and stir-fry the noodles until softened, about 10-15 minutes.
Drain any liquid from the wok and add your reserved shrimp and scallop mixture to the wok with the noodles. Stir-fry until the shrimp is sufficiently cooked.
Garnish with additional chopped green onion and serve.