I don't think the Lau family has ever eaten dim sum without calling over a few orders of turnip cake.
We're not alone - turnip cake is one of the most popular dim sum dishes around the world.
Turnip cake is also commonly made around Chinese holidays, as a symbol of prosperity in Chinese tradition.
Turnip Cake: A Good Omen
Many Chinese superstitions, good and bad, are based on word play.
For the same reason that the number "4" is bad luck because it sounds similar to the word for "death", taro cake and other cake recipes are popular around the holidays because they symbolize higher growth and prosperity.
Particularly for "cake 糕", the word shares the same exact tone and pronunciation as the Chinese word for "high 高" - "gōu".
"cake" and "high" have different characters, but Chinese tradition has come to attribute cakes with higher success, rising happiness, better health, and prosperity.
There are several sayings that tie into the cake/high connection, such as:
- bouh bouh gōu sīng 步步高升 - climb step by step, rise steadily
- faai gōu jéung daaih 快高長大 - wishes for children to grow taller and bigger quickly
My family makes Lo Bak Go year-round, but it’s a must during Lunar New Year!
Steamed spare ribs is a classic dim sum dish, and actually one of the easier dim sum recipes to recreate for your loved ones at home.
Before we get into the recipe, you might enjoy these interesting tidbits about our beloved past time, dim sum, and our favorite dish.
Dim Sum: A Touch of Heart
The way most of us pronounce "dim sum" in English is very similar to its Cantonese pronunciation, "dím sām", which roughly translates to "a touch of heart".
It's a reference to the delectable snacks that 10th century teahouses would serve to traveling merchants in Guangzhou, one of the largest international ports along the Silk Road.
Even though dim sum is widely considered to belong to Cantonese cuisine, it evolved from a wide range of influences, largely because Guangzhou was and still is a critical hub for Chinese trade and a melting pot of different cultures.