Unleashing the Charm of Chinese Rice Cakes
Chinese rice cakes have always held a special place in my culinary repertoire. These delectable bites, crafted from sticky rice, boast a texture reminiscent of Italian gnocchi. Whether enjoyed in soups, hot pots, or stir-fries, they never fail to delight. While my culinary exploration of rice cakes has largely been rooted in tradition, a recent discovery has added a zesty twist to my repertoire: the irresistible allure of Zesty Stir-Fried Chinese Rice Cakes, a spicy delight that elevates the dining experience to new heights.
Venturing into a Spicier Rice Cake Dish
My culinary curiosity led me to a restaurant where “spicy stir-fried rice cakes” sparked my interest, especially with their blend of Sichuan peppercorns. Eager to break away from the regular, I decided to give them a shot. The explosion of flavors had me smitten. So, I captured this sensory experience with a quick photo, jotted down some notes, and set off to recreate this magic in my kitchen.
The recipe below is the result of my quest to emulate that dish. Let’s dive into the process of preparing it.
- 3 tablespoons of oil (divided)
- 8 oz. of thinly sliced pork belly
- 1 tablespoon of minced ginger
- 3 cloves of thinly sliced garlic
- 1 medium onion (cut into small wedges)
- 1-2 thinly sliced jalapeno peppers (de-seeded)
- 2 optional Thai red bird chilies (sliced)
- 3 scallions (cut into 2-inch lengths)
- 1 pound of rice cakes
- 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine
- 1 teaspoon of soy sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorn powder
- 1 teaspoon of spicy bean paste
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over high heat in a wok. Sear the pork belly without stirring until browned and caramelized on one side. Continue stir-frying until opaque, then remove from the wok and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium, add an additional 2 tablespoons of oil to the wok. Add the ginger and let it infuse the oil for a minute, followed by garlic for another 30 seconds.
- Ramp up the heat to high again, adding onions, jalapenos, red chilies, and white parts of the scallions. After a minute, incorporate the rice cakes and Shaoxing wine. Stir well for 30 seconds while scooping from the bottom of the wok. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and let it simmer for a minute.
- Lift the cover, return the pork belly to the wok, along with soy sauce, sugar, Sichuan peppercorn powder, and spicy bean paste. Stir-fry until the rice cakes are fully cooked yet still chewy. Finally, stir in the green parts of the scallions until they wilt. Serve and enjoy this spicy twist on the classic Chinese rice cakes.
Tip: For those who are new to Chinese cooking, it’s important to know that Sichuan peppercorns provide a unique numbing sensation, complementing the heat from the chilies. So, adjust the quantity to your tolerance level for a perfect blend of flavors.