Dig into Chinese comfort food with Hsiao-Ching Chou’s new collection of easy-to-make classics. If you’re going to make a stir-fry, why not take it one step further with easy-to-prep stir-fried rice cakes?
Rice cake is called nian gao, or “sticky cake,” in Mandarin. It’s treated like a pasta and used in soups or stir-fry dishes. Serving rice cake for Chinese New Year is symbolic because the words for “sticky” and “year” are homophones. Serving rice cake represents a wish for many happy new years to come. Look for sliced rice cake in the refrigerated aisle of an Asian market.
- 6 ounces chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2-inch-long slivers (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce, divided
- 1 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 3 cups chopped Chinese broccoli (gai lan) leaves, with a few thinly sliced stems mixed in
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups sliced rice cake
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wing or dry Marsala wine
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
For the rice cakes
In a small bowl, combine the chicken and 1 teaspoon of the soy sauce, and mix well. Add the cornstarch and mix well again.
Preheat a wok over high heat until wisps of smoke rise from the surface. Add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil and heat for 5 seconds. Spread the chicken in a thin layer in the wok. Sear the slivers for about 30 seconds, then stir-fry the chicken for about 1 minute until cooked through. Remove the wok from the heat, transfer the chicken to a small bowl, and set aside. Rinse the wok and dry with a towel.
Return the wok to the stove over high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and heat for 5 seconds. Add the broccoli and stir-fry for about 1 minute. Add the water and the rice cake, and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for about 2 minutes, or until the rice cake becomes reconstituted and has softened. Add the hoisin, the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and the wine, and stir-fry to combine. If it looks soupy, increase the heat to high to reduce the sauce, but keep stir-frying so that the rice cake doesn’t stick to the bottom of the wok. Add the pepper and sesame oil, and give it one last stir before removing the wok from the heat. Serve hot.