8 Treasures Rice – 八宝饭

2 days ago a Shanghainese friend gave me a deep-frozen disc, apparently made from rice. Before packing it into my backpack I also noted some colored sprinkles on it, said decently “Thank you” (or maybe Xiexie) and forgot about it for a while. We spend the day shopping. Back home I put the rice disc into the fridge. Only then, via messenger, finding out what it actually was:

八宝饭Ba Bao Fan, literally “8 Treasures Rice”

The name was somehow obvious ;-), it was made of sticky rice, and it had a couple of colorful decorations on it. I could identify a walnut on the center top, some raisins around, and more stuff I could not identify. Hm, I didn’t count, but maybe it was just 7 different things.

It’s an traditional Chinese dish often served during Chinese New Year, so she said. My friend also told me by that time that the disc was filled with something. And, very important, how to prepare it. It basically came down to 1 minute of microwave (wondering, how ancient Chinese did that part…but maybe they did not deep-freeze it either) and then about 20 minutes of steaming, but making sure that the water doesn’t touch the rice. The original explanation was somewhat more detailed, involving several pots put one into the other and only the outer one having water…

Next day, I wanted to prepare it for dinner and ran into trouble: 1 minute microwaving was no issue at all, but it seems our kitchen does not hold a sufficient supply of pots to be put one into the other for Chinese-style steaming… I scanned the entire kitchen for something that came to the same effect and finally ended up in the following daring construction:

  • The pot on the stove was our largest cooking pot, with a few centimeters of water in it.
  • In it I first put a small square metal pan, originating from a toaster, which just happened to nearly but not exactly fit into the pot, so it got stuck a centimeter above the pot’s bottom, perfect!
  • I needed that metal thing because the only “plate” I could find, which was large enough to hold the entire rice cake but at the same time also fit into the pot, was actually the glass lit of a smaller pot turned upside-down. And I did not want the plastic handle of the lid to touch the hot bottom of the pot while cooking.

01 – The setup: The pot with the metal pan inlay, and the rice cake fitting neatly into the glass lid.

03 – 8 Treasures Rice, in glass lid, side view

05 – Now everything fits perfectly one into the other…

06 – Steaming is the method of choice…

07 – …over 20 minutes

10 – The result: Still looks pretty much the same 🙂 but is now soft.

11 – And, traraaaaa, here’s the 8. treasure: The filling! Mashed beans, but somehow made a bit sweat.

Needless to say that it tasted delicious! It was a bit sweet, but only so much to make it nice.

My friend was extremely surprised and even worried that I prepared the entire cake. (Well, she should have told me otherwise upfront…) Worries were mostly about the special kind of sticky rice used, which she feared would swell in-body.

Don’t worry: I ate 3 quarters of the disc, then I was absolutely full. A good whiskey on top of it and I slept very well. And this text is written on the next morning, so I did definitely not explode!

Categories: Shanghai

Originally Created: 02/05/2006 07:21:04 AM
Last Edited: 02/05/2006