Shanghainese rice cake is made with ground rice and water only. It is eaten like rice noodles, with soup or stir fried with meat and/or vegetables. This is eaten by Shanghainese especially on Chinese New Year and throughout the year too. This cake is available in most Chinese supermarket pre-cut like the picture above or in bigger chunks like this or dried like this which needs soaking and boiling, IMO too much work.
Korean also have very similar rice cake called Ddeokbbokki but they are usually thinner like finger size. These are cooked with a soupy stew or stir fried with Korean chilli paste Gochujang like this.
Based on this Korean idea I thought of cooking this rice cake with fish fragrant sauce, kind of Shanghainese/Sichuan fusion. It worked. It was tasty eaten with plenty of plain stir fried Chinese cabbage (nappa cabbage) without any salt or soy sauce added because the fish fragrant sauce was salty enough.
For the recipe, enough for 2 - 3 people
400 -500g Shanghainese rice cake (pre-cut or in rod shape cut them yourself into thin slices)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp of cooking oil
150g minced pork
about 2 tbsp of chilli bean sauce
a little dark soy sauce
dash of Shoashing or cooking wine
about 1 cup or a bit more non salted stock or water
dash of Chinkiang or black rice vinegar
a little sugar to taste
about 1/2 tsp ground Sichuan pepper
dash of sesame oil or 1 - 2 tsp of chilli oil (sesame oil for the fragrance, chilli oil to pump up the spiciness of the dish)
2 - 3 stalks spring onion, chopped
- If using pre-cut rice cake, wet the cake with water and split the pieces apart. There is usually cling film dividing the pieces to prevent sticking. If using the larger piece rice cake cut into thin slices.
- Heat cooking oil in wok, add garlic and stir fry till fragrant. Add pork and stir fry till pork turned grey, add chilli bean sauce and stir till fragrant. Add dash of dark soy (not too much chilli bean sauce can be salty).
- Add enough stock/water to cover the rice cake and let the rice cake stew for few minutes till softened. Add enough vinegar to taste. Add enough sugar to taste to balance the saltiness. The sauce will be absorbed by the rice cake and thicken at the same time. When the cake is softened enough it is ready, take a piece and try it before turning the heat off. If you think more cooking is required you may need more water/stock. I like the rice cake a bit al dente, with a bit of chewiness. Don't cook till the sauce is very thick, the rice cake will continue to absorb the sauce after cooking.
- Stir in sesame oil, ground Sichuan pepper and 3/4 of the spring onion. Dish up and sprinkle on the remaining spring onion.
- Eat with plenty of steamed or stir fried chinese green or Chinese leaves/cabbage, without any salt or soy sauce added.