In honor of Chinese New Year, here is the recipe for Eight Treasure Rice. Ba Bao Fan, as it is called in Chinese, is a popular dessert made with sticky rice, red bean paste, and enough types of dried or candied fruits to bring the ingredients to eight. Whether or not you count the sticky rice as one of the “treasures” is up to you, and of course, no one says that you need to include exactly eight ingredients!
- You can find everything in a Chinese supermarket. The red bean paste will probably come in a can and sometimes misleadingly shows a picture of whole beans on the label. Ask the cashier if you’re not sure.
- Some common toppings include dried dates, guiyuan (dried longan), candied lotus seeds (which you can buy around Chinese New Year), dried lychees, dried loquat, and red and green candied fruit that you put in fruitcake.
- I make my sticky rice in a Tatung rice cooker in which you put water in both an outer pot and an inner pot. You can improvise this arrangement on the stove: Set a wire rack or an upside-down bowl in a large pot of water. Place whatever ingredients you’re steaming in another bowl and set it on top of the rack or the upside-down bowl to keep it out of the water. Cover pot with a lid and bring water to a boil.
Eight Treasure Rice (Ba Bao Fan)
Yield: 8 servings
- 3/4 cup (1 rice cooker cup) sticky rice, aka sweet rice or glutinous rice, although it has no gluten
- 1 1/8 cup (1 1/2 rice cooker cups) water
- 1 tablespoon sugar or a few pieces of candy crystal (optional)
- a handful of your favorite toppings (see above for suggestions)
- 3/4 cup (1 rice cooker cup) red bean paste (or more, to taste)
- Rinse the sticky rice with cold water a couple times.
- Cook the sticky rice.
- If using a Tatung rice cooker, place sticky rice, 1 1/2 rice cooker cups water, and sugar (if using) in the inner pot. Place 2 rice cooker cups water in the outer pot and steam. It takes 45-50 minutes.
- If cooking on a stove, steam ingredients for about 45 minutes, adding more water to the pot if necessary.
- While rice is cooking, soak dates in a little water to soften them. Cut them into strips, removing the pits.
- You can stir-fry the red bean paste briefly, but I usually skip this step.
- Grease a domed, medium bowl and arrange the dried and candied fruits on the bottom.
- When the rice is done, pat about 2/3 of it into a layer on the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Spoon red bean paste into the center of the rice.
- Cover with remaining rice and pat smooth.
- Steam again.
- If using the rice cooker, use 1 rice cooker cup of water in the outer pot. It takes about 30 minutes.
- If cooking on a stove, steam for 30 minutes.
- When the bowl is cool enough to handle, loosen the edges of the rice from the bowl with a knife. Place a serving plate over the bowl and flip them over so the Eight Treasure Rice falls out.
- Serve warm.