Delicious stir-fried Shanghai rice cakes or 'chao nian gao', always hit the spot for me when I crave cozy Chinese food. If you ever have a chance to visit Din Tai Fung, you must try their vegetarian stir-fried Shanghai rice cakes dish. This is one of my favorite dish there!
If you never had stir-fried Shanghai rice cakes before, you miss out on some incredible umami flavor and unique texture experience. But don't worry if you never had it, because you are here now, and I'm here to guide you through how to make this delicious dish.
Traditionally, stir-fried rice cakes dish is filled with vegetables and soft and chewy rice cakes that will make you want to take a bite after another. It is soft, chewy, sticky, and crunchy all in one bite. Truly a unique experience. Because rice cakes itself doesn't have any taste, it will absorb all the liquid and pick up whatever flavor you throw at it. Traditional stir-fried Shanghai rice cakes dish is soy sauce based. And with the combination of glutinous rice cakes it leaves the dish with a coat of savory gravy.
Chao nian gao is a very popular dish in Southern China and is a very well-known dish in Shanghai. It is so well known, the dish is often referred to as Shanghai chao nian gao on the menu, which translates to Shanghai-style stir-fried rice cakes. Nian gao is a must eaten dish during Chinese New Year. The name of nian gao, translates to 'year high', which symbolize bringing yourself to the next level in the New Year. I mean, who doesn't want that. Traditional chao nian gao is made with pork and vegetables, but you can use any protein type. In this recipe, I used shrimp to make it healthier.
1.5 lb Rice Cake
8 oz Shrimp* Wild Caught, Peeled, Deveined
3-4 Cups/ 0.5lb Napa Cabbage Sliced
1 Cup Maitake Mushroom
1 Cup Alba Mushroom
1/2-1 Bunch of Broccolini
3 Cloves Of Garlic Sliced
2 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoon Oyster Sauce*/ Hoisin Sauce
2 Tablespoon Shaoxing Wine/ Cooking Wine
1-2 teaspoon Sesame Oil
1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1 Green Onion Optional
* If you have shell fish allergies, please substitute.
1. Optional*. In a medium pot, bring water to boil. Then put in your rice cakes and remove it when it floats. Usually this will take about 2-3 minutes. If you are going to boil it, it will become softer and less chewy. However, if you do over boil the rice cakes, they will fall apart. This step is not required.
If you are not going to boil it, all you have to do is rinse your rice cakes in water and drain. If you don't boil the rice cakes, the texture will be firmer and chewier.
Which method to go with is up to you.
Note: If you are using dried rice cakes, you will need to pre-soak it.
2. In a medium/large stir fry pan or a wok, heat up sliced garlic with some sesame oil at medium to high heat for about 1 minute. Once you get a good whiff of the garlic, add your cabbage. Once your cabbage cooks down a bit, add your mushrooms. Don't worry if your vegetables are starting to excrete water.
3. Once your rice cake is cooked (if you boil it), add it with your veggie and throw it in the shrimps. If you didn't go with the boil method, you can add it in at this time too.
4. Add your sauce in along with some sesame oil.
5. Stir fry at medium-high heat for about 5 minutes or until your shrimp is cooked. If you did not boil your rice cakes, you would need to stir fry the dish a bit longer. The dish will be done when the rice cake becomes soften. If needed, add more oil.
6. Add in your green onion in the end and stir fry for another 2 minutes, or on top of your dish as garish.
And there you have your delicious chao nian gao or Shanghai style stir fried rice cakes that is ready to be served!
- If the rice cakes are still hard after a few minutes of stir-frying, add 2 Tablespoons of water to the pan and continue to stir fry. Or you can put a lid on your pan and leave it for about 5 minutes.
- Unsure if your rice cakes needs pre-soaking or not, check the package for instructions.
- Going with another protein like pork or chicken? I recommend that marinate the meat prior for extra flavors.
- Like some heat in your dish? Authentically, people do add hot chili sauce to their ready to eat dish, and it is also my preference as well. The hot chili sauce goes really well with this dish if you can handle some heat.
Combinations You Can make
Rice cake itself doesn't have a taste, and it will pick up whatever you combine it with. If you use soy sauce, the dish will be savory. If you use sugar, the dish will be sweet. In traditional Chinese stir-fried rice cakes, there is protein and veggies. However, you can make this dish vegan or vegetarian.
Protein: Chicken, Pork, Beef, Shrimp, Fried tofu
Vegetables: broccoli, carrots, bell pepper, celery, peas, bamboo shoot, bok choy, Napa cabbage, mushroom, onion
Where To Purchase Rice Cake?
Rice cakes can be found in any Asian market, and they are very affordable. For one and a half pounds of rice cakes, it's about $4.
If you don't have an Asian market by you, you can check out Weee! They currently deliver Asian groceries in SF Bay Area, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Seattle, Portland, New York, and New Jersey. Click and see if they deliver to you.
My Soy Sauce Recommendation From Amazon
How To Store Leftovers And Reheating
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container and then keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- To reheat, simply microwave it or heat it in a pan or wok with some oil.