A Chinese indulgence: Shanghai glutinous rice cakes

In celebration of Mid-Autumn Festival last week, I stopped by the Chinese shop to get more mung bean snowy mooncakes (my favourite). I can never seem to just walk out of a Chinese shop here without buying something else. Believe me, when you’ve been deprived of your favourite foods and snacks for the past 6 years and the only chance you get to stock up is when you go back to Hong Kong to get more (and even then, you can’t bring back perishables) you’ll do the same! So while browsing their wares, I felt a craving for some Chinese dishes and bought glutinous rice cakes for dinner to celebrate a Chinese festival.

Source: Sherman’s Food Adventures

As with many recipes, this one too can be altered to suit your dietary requirements. It’s normally cooked with beef (sliced or minced), but you can add a mix of chopped vegetables instead of using meat. There may be more than one brand of glutinous rice cakes, but any one of them will do. As far as I can tell from the different brands I’ve bought before, they all pretty much taste the same once it’s cooked properly. It’ll look something like this:

Shanghainese fried glutinous rice cakes

Serves 4
Preparation time: 30 minutes

450g Sliced glutinous rice cakes
500g minced beef
1 head of sweetheart lettuce
2 big cloves of garlic
1/4″ section of chilli (optional)
100ml water
Soy sauce for seasoning

1. Your glutinous rice cakes will come in slabs, so break it up along the lines so you get smaller rectangular pieces

2. Heat a pan, add some oil and cook your mince first, this will take the longest to cook of all your ingredients.

3. Next, chop your lettuce into small sections (I just cut along the head of lettuce so I got small strips).

4. Dice the garlic,

5. …and also prepare the chilli if you’re adding this.

6. Once the minced beef is browned, add the garlic and chilli.

7. Let the flavour seep into the meat for a few minutes before adding the lettuce.

8. You don’t need to cook the lettuce for too long. Once it’s a brighter shade of green, add the glutinous rice cakes and the water and cover the pan over medium heat so the glutinous rice cakes will soften and gain its glutinous texture.

9. Check on the glutinous rice cakes after 5-10 minutes. It should be soft and bounce back when you press on it with your wooden spoon/spatula. If it’s not yet ready and there’s not much water left, add a small amount and cover again until it’s ready.

10. Once the glutinous rice cakes are cooked, add some soy sauce for flavour. I just bought this big bottle of Lee Kum Kee from Tesco for not much. I found you pay about the same price for a much smaller bottle at the Chinese supermarkets.

For our dinner, I added about 2 tbsps worth of soy sauce for seasoning.

11. Mix it well and serve.

We decided to have a really Chinesey night of it and had some Chinese tea with our meal. One kind my family always took with dim sum is bo lei in Cantonese (also known and sold as Pu-erh) a Chinese black tea which is good to have with a meal. It’s reported to help break down fatty oils while eating, thus helping to lower cholesterol levels.

Shanghai glutinous rice cakes are one of my favourite dishes and it’s so easy to make. You can add whatever meat or vegetables you like, so have fun with it!

Let me know if you’ve tried the recipe and how you get on! What ingredients did you substitute? Have you made it before?


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