This Shanghai Rice Cake Stir-fry with Shepherd’s Purse is another classic dish to add to your repertoire. We’ve talked about Shepherd’s Purse, or jicai, before––in our original dumpling post.
Shepherd’s purse is a wild vegetable that’s kind of shaped a little like dandelion greens. They have a wonderful, delicate flavor, and they’re often used in this Shanghai-style stir-fried rice cake dish. The people of Shanghai love Shepherd’s Purse. We use it to make wontons, dumplings, soups, buns and stir-fried Shanghai rice cake (or nian gao), of course.
Okay, here comes the bad news: I’ve never seen fresh shepherd’s purse in the US. You can only get the frozen version, usually imported from China, and you can look for it in the frozen section of your local Chinese grocery store.
The good news is: even though it’s frozen, it’s still very good. In some ways, the frozen shepherd’s purse is more fragrant than the fresh ones I had when we were living in Beijing.
Some of our other rice cake stir-fry dishes you must see are Steak and Scallion Rice Cake Stir-Fry, and our classic Stir-Fried Sticky Rice Cakes recipes. They all start with the chewy and addictive rice cakes (nian gao) which you cannot stop eating once you start!
If you absolutely can’t find shepherd’s purse, you can use finely chopped fresh spinach. If you can find the frozen shepherd’s purse in your local Asian grocery, here’s a quick tutorial in preparing it:
Leave the frozen package (it usually comes in 1 lb. bags) on the countertop for an hour or two. Once the package is partially thawed, cut off 1/3 of the block of frozen vegetables. Soak it in cold water until it thaws completely, and put the remaining vegetables back in the freezer. Most frozen vegetables are pre-washed, but for this, I do suggest that you rinse/wash it a couple of more times until water is completely clean of any sand. After washing, squeeze all the water out and chop finely.
Ok, here’s the rest of what you need. This Shanghai rice cake recipe is very quick to cook, so it’s best to have everything ready before you begin cooking!
When you’re ready to cook, heat the oil in a wok over high heat. Stir-fry the chicken until opaque.
Cover the wok and let it cook for 2-3 minutes (not too long, or the greens will turn yellow and the rice cakes will be soggy). Once the rice cakes have softened, mix everything together and serve hot!
This Shanghai rice cake with Shepard’s Purse is a really classic dish in Shanghai, and it’s loved by many for good reason. Hope you will give it try!
Shanghai Rice Cake Stir-fry w/ Shepherd's Purse
To marinate the chicken:
For the rest of the dish:
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1/3 lb. frozen shepherd’s purse (150g, washed, liquid squeezed out, and finely chopped; can be substituted w/ fresh spinach, finely chopped)
- 1/3 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 12 oz. rice cakes (thawed, rinsed)
- ½ cup water or chicken stock (120 ml)
- Combine the chicken and marinade ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Prepare the rest of your ingredients.
- When you're ready to cook, heat the oil in a wok over high heat. Stir-fry the chicken until opaque. Add the shepherd’s purse (or spinach), salt, white pepper, and sesame oil. Stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the rice cakes on top of the meat and veg (the rice cakes shouldn't be directly touching the surface of the wok), along with the water or chicken stock.
- Cover the wok and let it cook for 2-3 minutes (not too long, or the greens will turn yellow and the rice cakes will be soggy). Once the rice cakes have softened, mix everything together and serve immediately.