Rice cakes are available sliced, marble-shaped, and in batons.
Look for them in the refrigerated aisle of Asian grocery stores. There are dried versions, but the refrigerated version is widely available and easier to work with.
I like the slices because there’s more surface area for the sauce.
You can use any combination of vegetables and seasonings, so feel free to experiment with flavors.
Rice cake is also served at Lunar New Year because the Mandarin name nian gao (“sticky cake”) is a homophone for the nian, which means “year,” and gao, which means “tall” or “high.”
When you stick those years together, you’re wishing others longevity.
Rice Cake with Mixed Vegetables
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
2 cups sliced rice cake
3 cups hot tap water or water that’s been microwaved for 30 seconds
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups leafy greens, such as baby bok choy, yu choy (cut into ½-inch pieces), or baby
4 medium dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes to reconstitute
and cut into ¼-inch-thick pieces
½ cup sliced carrots (⅛ inch thick)
½ cup bean sprouts
1½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon black bean garlic sauce
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
In a medium bowl, soak the rice cake in the hot water for 2 to 3 minutes, then drain all but about ½ cup water. Set aside.
Preheat a wok over high heat until wisps of smoke rise from the surface. Swirl in the vegetable oil and let heat for a few seconds until it starts to shim-mer. Add the greens and stir-fry for about 15 seconds. Add the mushrooms, carrots, and bean sprouts. Stir to combine. Add the rice cake and the reserved water, soy sauce, and black bean garlic sauce. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, or until well combined and the rice cake slices have softened.
Finish with the sesame oil. Serve while hot.