Jujube Date and Ginger Ricecake (vegetarian recipe)
Haven’t produced recipes for quite a while. Chinese New Year is on its way but I haven’t done much preparation yet. I’ve been busy after Christmas and something heartbroken happened at the end of 2019 so I hadn’t been able to do anything. How could I celebrate with depression.
Anyway, life must go on. For CNY in recent years, I would prepare Niangao (New Year cake, traditional steamed ricecake for celebrating this particular festival) as gifts for families and closed friends. I like savoury ones usually, radish cake, taro cake. But for the coming one, I would make sweet ricecake, for me, and for my families, to let go any bitterness in heart.
Steamed red sugar ricecake is a classic type of Niangao. The basic ingredients are red sugar and glutinous rice flour, so it’s very sweet, and tastes soft and chewy. In the basic of red sugar ricecake, I add jujube date and ginger. These two ingredients are very healthy and suitable for cold winter. Since jujube date is sweet enough I would half the amount of red sugar in this recipe.
One key ingredient in my recipe, wheat starch/澄面, is known as an essential ingredient in many dim-sum, such as the wrap of shrimp dumpling. But in most of the steamed red sugar ricecake in the market, tapioca starch/木薯粉 is usually used. Ricecake made of glutinous rice flour and tapioca starch will be firmer when cold. Firm ricecake is easy to cut and shape. However, they must be reheated, steamed or pan-fried, otherwise they are as firm as brick. Instead, by adding wheat starch, the texture wouldn’t change much but cake still remains soft enough to chew when cold. I say it taste even better after chilled.
I make two medium size ricecakes with the amount of ingredients below, 15cm in length, 10cm in width and 5cm in height. I strongly suggest that you make a small portion, say, 50g of jujube dates, to see if you like the taste or the texture. Otherwise it would be a waste of time and food.
Ingredients – (all can be obtained in most Asian grocery stores)
Big dried jujube dates, pit removed, 150g. You could remove the pits yourself or there must be those halved dates in grocery stores. I always do it myself.
Glutinous rice flour, 220g
Wheat starch, 120g
Red sugar, 200g
Ginger, 40g, peeled
Oil, 1tbsp, corn oil or grapeseed oil, those without significant flavour, are suggested
How to do –
1. Remove the pits, wash the dates and drain;
2. Make precise measurement;
3. Steamed the dates till they are soft, it takes 20-30 minutes;
4. Dissolve the red sugar with 480ml of boiling water;
5. With an electric blender, put in the dates, chopped ginger, and some red sugar syrup, blend till smooth. Mix the mashed dates with the rest syrup, blend them well;
6. If the mixture is too hot, cool down till it’s warm. Then mix with the glutinous rice flour and wheat starch mixture. Gradually scoop the flour into the liquid and mix, so that the batter wouldn’t be lumpy. Blend 1tbsp of corn oil in the batter;
7. Sift, so that the batter is smooth. The batter should be runny but thick;
8. For the container, I use a glass food container. But there are particular container for steamed cake in Asian grocery stores. Make sure you line the container with oil;
9. Now let’s steam. Here are 3 tips you must follow –
1) Well, you could pour in the batter in one go but that would take more than 1 hour to cook. So here’s the technique – you steam layer by layer. One scoop of batter for one layer, about half centimeter’s thick, then steam in high heat for about 5 minutes. Check if it’s cooked. When cooked, the colour turns darker, then you scoop in one more layer, then again and again till the height is to your satisfaction;
2) Make sure you stir the batter every time before steaming;
3) Wrap the lid of the steamer with a big cotton kitchen clothes, this would prevent fluid dropping on the cake.
10. Steamed ricecake must cool down to room temperature then chill in fridge overnight;
11. Loose the edges of the cake with sharp knife and remove from the container carefully. If you didn’t line the container then it would be hard to remove from it;
12. Cut into small pieces. I like to eat them chilled with hot Chinese tea, or here are 2 ways to have it hot –
1) Slice the riceccake into about 1cm thick, wrap them with whisked egg, then pan-fry till golden;
2) Cut the ricecake into small chunks about 2cm thick. Make a pancake batter with eggs, self-raising flour, a little sugar and oil. Then make a thick fluffy pancake with the ricecake as filling.