Lots of families are big on chicken. Roast chicken, grilled chicken, chicken pastas, chicken pot-pie, chicken Caesar salad, you get the drill. But for as long as I can remember, whenever my family had a choice of protein, the default tended to be beef. Steaks, not chicken on the grill, steak, not chicken on top of salads, and beef fried rice and beef lo mein from the takeout place, natch. This Chinese rice cake stir-fry is one dish that fits in perfectly with our red meat tendencies.
The tender slices of steak, the savory seared scallion and ginger, and the rich umami flavor of the soy and shaoxing wine, all lifted up by the delightful glutinous heaven that is the Chinese rice cakes (Nian Gao) …you won’t regret making this!
When it comes to “rice cakes,” we’ve always gotten some funny looks or confused faces from our non-Chinese friends, but, basically, they are a mixture of rice flour and water that’s been shaped into cylinders, then sliced into “cakes.” They have a deliciously chewy texture kind of similar to gnocchi.
We whipped this up while I was in Beijing last month, and it was seriously satisfying. Of course, you can swap the beef out for chicken or pork if you like. But don’t be surprised if when you make this, your family ends up fighting over the last piece of steak!
Some of our other rice cake stir-fry dishes you must see are Classic Sticky Rice Cakes , and Shanghai Rice Cake with Shepherd’s purse. They all start with the chewy and addictive rice cakes (nian gao) which you cannot stop eating once you start!
Marinate the beef with 1 tablespoon oil, cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon light soy sauce. Set aside for 15 minutes. For more complete information on preparing beef, see Bill’s post on How to Slice and Velvet Beef for stir fries.
…and when it starts to brown, add the scallions and give everything a stir.
Pour in the rice cakes and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.
Spread the Shaoxing wine around the perimeter of the wok and cover the wok immediately. Cook, covered, for 2 minutes.
Toss together for another 2 minutes. The rice cakes should be tender but still a bit chewy. If not, cover the wok and cook a little longer.
Rice cakes wait for no one–serve immediately!
You can also top your steak and scallion rice cake stir-fry with some of your preferred Chinese hot sauce, if that’s your fancy–sriracha, black bean hot sauce, homemade hot chili oil, or anything you want!
Steak and Scallion Rice Cake Stir-Fry
- 12 oz. sirloin steak (340g, sliced)
- 3 tablespoons oil (divided)
- 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon light soy sauce (plus 1 tablespoon)
- 4 thin slices ginger (finely julienned)
- 3 scallions (cut into 2-inch pieces)
- 1 pound rice cakes (450g)
- 2 tablespoons shaoxing wine
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Marinate the beef with 1 tablespoon oil, cornstarch and 1 teaspoon light soy sauce and set aside for 15 minutes. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in your wok over high heat. Once it's smoking, add the beef and sear for a minute before setting aside on a plate. Add the ginger to the wok, and when it starts to brown, add the scallions and give everything a stir. Pour in the rice cakes and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.
- Spread the shaoxing wine around the perimeter of the wok and cover the wok immediately. Cook, covered, for 2 minutes. Add the beef, 1 tablespoon each of dark and light soy sauce, sesame oil, and salt. Toss together for about 2 minutes. The rice cakes should be tender but still a bit chewy. If not, cover the wok and cook a little longer.