Chinese Stir Fried Rice Cakes (Nian Gao)


Shanghai rice cakes, or Shanghai nian gao, are glutinous and chewy cakes made from glutinous rice flour that are often stir-fried or cooked in soups. They are gluten-free, making it a great option for anyone with gluten intolerance or Celiac disease. This dish utilizes oyster sauce which is not gluten-free; make sure to use a gluten-free oyster sauce for a gluten-free dish. The term rice cake, or nian gao in Chinese, refers to a wide variety of rice cakes in general, so it is important to note that this recipe utilizes sliced rice cakes. The rice cakes are made into a thick rod that is then sliced into oval-shaped pieces as shown in this recipe. If you have ever had the Korean dish, tteokbokki, then these rice cakes are similar to the rice cakes used in that dish.

This savory stir-fried rice cake recipe is an incredibly flavorful and complete meal with carbohydrates, protein, and vegetables all in one. It is a simple one-pan dish that comes together in under 20 minutes and is great for meal prepping. The sauce for these stir-fried cakes consists of very common East Asian sauces. You can find the sauces in the international aisle of most grocery stores or East Asian stores.

Vegetarian/vegan option: If you would like to make a vegetarian or vegan version of this recipe, you can omit the meat or swap it with a protein of choice, like tofu. You will also have to use a plant-based oyster sauce alternative such as a vegetarian mushroom sauce.

Ingredients:

For rice cakes:

  • 170 g. or 6 oz. thinly sliced pork
  • 28 g. or 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 420 g. or 3 c. sliced rice cakes, soaked in water for at least 2 hours
  • 2-3 bunches bok choy
  • 40 g. or 8 medium dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 1 c. water for at least 20 min, and sliced (reserve the mushroom soaking water; it is used in the sauce)
  • 10 g. or 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • chopped green onions to top, optional
  • sesame seeds to top, optional

For Sauce:

  • 21 g. or 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 16 g. or 1 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 5 g. or 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 g. or 1/2 tsp. white pepper powder
  • 60 g. or 4 tbsp. mushroom soaking water

Directions:

  1. To prepare the frozen rice cakes, thaw and soak in room temperature water for 1 hour.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Set aside.
  3. In a skillet over high heat, add 1 tsp. oil and garlic and stir fry the pork and mushrooms for 2 minutes. Add in the bok choy and saute for an additional 3 minutes.
  4. Add the sauce, water, and rice cakes in and stir. Cover the pan with a lid and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Stir the rice cakes.
  5. Top with sesame seeds and chopped green onions and enjoy!

Recipe notes:

  • Pork can be substituted with any protein of choice (shrimp, chicken, tofu, etc.)
  • Rice cakes can be stored in an airtight container and in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Frozen, airtight rice cakes must be soaked in water for at least 2 hours. You may consider soaking overnight

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