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Photo by Clare Barboza from "Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food," courtesy of Sasquatch Books.

Tasty recipe from ‘Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food’

Try this Lunar New Year favorite from Seattle author Hsiao-Ching Chou.

Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food coverEditor’s note: Here’s a kid (and adult) favorite, Rice Cake with Mixed Vegetables, excerpted from “Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food,” which was released by Sasquatch Books.

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


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
spinach leaves
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

Photo by Clare Barboza from “Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food,” courtesy of Sasquatch Books.

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.

©2021 by Hsiao-Ching Chou. Excerpted from “Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food” by
permission of Sasquatch Books.

More great meal ideas:

3 easy weeknight dinner recipes your family will love


About the Author


Hsiao-Ching Chou is the author of Chinese Soul Food (Sasquatch, 2018) and Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food (Sasquatch, Jan. 2021). She teaches Chinese home cooking at in the Seattle area. She serves as the chair of the James Beard Foundation’s Book Awards Committee, and as a member of the board of directors for the Ballard Food Bank. In her “day job,” she’s a communications and marketing consultant.