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Shanghai-Style Rice Cake Stir Fry

A Traditional Shanghai-Style Rice Cake Stir Fry with Pork Slices and Napa Cabbage

by Shirley
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Stir Fried Rice Cake Shanghai Style

Rice Cake Stir Fry with Pork and Napa Cabbage Slices {Chao Nian Gao 炒年糕} is a traditional Shanghai Style one-pot meal. It features soft rice cake slices stir-fried with juicy, savory pork slices. The Napa Cabbage adds subtle crunchiness and a refreshing contrasting taste and flavor, as well as additional nutrition. A perfect easy, tasty, and healthy one-dish meal.

Stir Fried Rice Cake {Easy Tasty Authentic Style}
Stir-Fried Rice Cake {Easy Tasty Authentic Style}

Born and growing up in Suzhou, which lies in the heart of the Yangtze River Delta area, I surely had enjoyed my fair share of Stir Fried Rice Cake. I started making this one-meal dish for my family years ago. At that point, I spotted quality rice cakes at my local Korean grocery store.

My family instantly gravitated to this yummy & cozy dish. That features soft and semi-chewy rice cakes mixed with savory pork slices and topped with semi-crunchy naturally delicious Napa cabbage.

Keep reading to learn rice cake story and how to make rice cake stir-fry one-pot meal perfectly every time!

Stir Fried Rice Cake Ingredients

Of course, the very first thing is the rice cake. So what is the rice cake we are talking about here?

rice cake slices

They are plain white rice cake made of white rice, commonly referred to as “Ning Bo Rice Cake”. Ning Bo is a city in China’s Zhenjiang province, which is close to the city of Shaoxing, where the famous Shaoxing wine comes from.

Traditionally Ning Bo rice cake is a rectangular prism, about 6 inches long, 1.5 inches wide, and half an inch thick. The rice cake package I got from the Korean store is rice cake slices. They have pre-sliced rice cakes for convenient home cooking.

Rice Cake Slice
Rice Cake Slice

Well, what else do you need?

rice cake stir fry ingredients

Pork -sirloin works great for pork slices. Pork butt or shoulder is OK too. They are fattier compared to sirloin, and they make shorter slices as pork slices break at the fatty part.

For marinating the porkaged soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, Zhenjiang vinegar, arrowroot flour, and freshly ground white pepper.

The first three are among healthy & tasty Chinese cooking essential condiments. Arrowroot flour is my go-to starch for healthier cooking and eating.

For Stir-fryavocado oil, ginger slices, green onion, light soy sauce, and organic sugar in the raw.

How to make Stir Fried Rice Cake in an Easy, Tasty, and Authentic Way from scratch?

Tip No.1 is to cut the pork into thin julienne slices

pork sirloin slices

It is easier to do so while the meat is semi-frozen. If the pork is in the freezer, take it out a couple of hours before cooking. If you are using fresh meat, put them in the freezer for a couple of hours if you can spare the time.

pork sirloin slices

Tip No.2 is to marinate the pork slices before cooking

It is an essential part of Chinese stir-fry. The secret of juicy & flavorful meat. Marinate the meat slices in a glass mixing bowl for about 10 minutes.

I usually do this step first and then set it aside while I am doing some preparation steps.

marinated pork slices

Napa cabbage prep tip

Ideal to have both the crunchy stems and soft leafy parts so that we have both textures. Precisely the reason I cut the Nappa Cabbage vertically.

To match the shape of pork slices, we cut Napa cabbage in julienne too. Noting this differs from making Beijing-Style Napa Cabbage stir-fry where we slit at an angle to create a thin flake shape.

napa cabbage julienne cut

Tip No.4 is to cook the pork slices first

These cooked pork slices are versatile to make Stir Fried Pork Slices with various vegetable slices. Stir-Fried Winter Bamboo with Pork Slices and Stir Fried Mao Dou {edamame} with Pork Slices are among the classic home-cooking meals in the Yangtze River Delta area.

They are an excellent choice to make in advance too. We can store them in the fridge for up to one week and in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can then whip out a tasty stir-fried pork slice dish in no time.

Cooked Pork Slices Ready for Stir Fry
Cooked Pork Slices Ready for Stir Fry

5. Prep rice cake for the stir-fry

Cooked rice becomes stiff as its temperature gets cold. The same for rice cakes. We shall moist and soften the rice cake right before the stir-frying.

Fill a large stockpot with about 75% water and bring it to a boil. As the water is boiling, carefully add the rice cake into the pot and then immediately remove them from the pot using a skimmer. A skimmer is a handy tool for Chinese cooking. I use it to cook wontons, meatballs, noodles, and all kinds of blanching activities.

Do not let rice cakes bath in the boiling water for too long.

blanched rice cake

Additional Tips for Authentic Shanghai Style Stir Fried Rice Cake

Do not over-use soy sauce. The authentic Shanghai-style Stir Fried Rice Cake focuses on the food’s original color, white rice cake, and white/green Napa Cabbage slices. I use just enough soy sauce to flavor the meat and provide a hew of enticing color.

rice cake stir-fry Shanghai classic

Do like one-dish meal? Make sure you check out these popular ones:

Stir Fried Rice Cake Shanghai Style

Shanghai-Style Rice Cake Stir Fry Recipe {Easy & Authentic}

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Stir-Fried Rice Cake with Pork and Nappa Cabbage slices is such a classic Shanghai-style one-pot meal. So delicious and healthy. A perfect one-pot dish for weeknight dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb original rice cake, sliced
  • 1/2 lb pork sirloin, shoulder or butt
  • 1 lb Napa cabbage, about 1/3 of a regular sized Napa Cabbage

For marinating the pork slices:

  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tbsp naturally aged soy sauce or dark soy sauce, see notes
  • 1/2 tsp Zhenjiang vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp sugar, organic preferred, cane sugar or sugar in the raw {Turbinado sugar}
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder, organic preferred
  • 1 tsp arrowroot flour

For Stir-fry:

  • 1 tsp cooking oil, such as avocado oil, skip if the pork shoulder or butt has decent amount of fat
  • a small piece of ginger, organic, minced
  • 1 green onion stalk, chopped
  • 1 tbsp naturally aged soy sauce or dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce

Instructions

Preparations:

  • Cut the pork across the grain into thin slices and place into a bowl. It is easier to slice the pork when it is in a semi-frozen state. See notes for more tips.
    pork sirloin slices
  • After done with the pork slices, let them sit to get a little softer while doing other preparation.
  • Cut Napa cabbage vertically in half, rinse under running water, trim the root hard part, and then cut into julienne.
  • Mince ginger. Wash and cut green onion into small pieces
  • Rinse the pork slices under running water, and gently squeeze the extra water out. Add everything under "For Marinating the Pork" into the pork slices, the naturally aged soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, Zhenjiang vinegar, ginger powder, sugar, and arrowroot flour, and mix well. Set aside.
    marinated pork slices
  • Fill an 8-Qt. stockpot with 75% of water, and bring it to a boil, about 15 minutes. Turn it off for now if it reaches a boil before you are done with stir-frying pork slices and Nappa cabbage.

Stir Fry the Pork Slices:

  • Turn the heat to medium-high, and heat a 12-inch hard-anodized fry pan for 2 minutes. Spray a thin layer of avocado oil using a home oil spray bottle into the pan. If you are using pork shoulder or butt that has a decent amount of fat, then skip the oil.
  • Add half of the green onion and ginger to the pan, stir and then add the marinated pork slices.
  • Use a pair of bamboo spatulas to toss and separate the pork slices. keep doing so until the pork slices change color and the pork become fully cooked, about 3 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and remove the cooked pork slices from the pan and place them on a large plate and set it aside.

Rice Cake Stir-Fry:

  • Come back to the large stockpot, and turn the heat back to medium-high to let it reach a boil again and then add the sliced rice cake.
  • Immediately use a stainless steel spider strainer to separate them apart by tossing the cake slices in boiling water. As soon as the cake becomes soft, this only takes about 1 minute or so. Remove them from the pot using the spider strainer and add them to the frying pan. Turn off the heat of the stockpot.
  • Now come back to the hard-anodized frying pan. Turn the heat back to medium-high, with the softened rice cake in the pan, add the rest of the minced ginger, chopped green onion, and Napa Cabbage slices. Use a pair of bamboo spatulas to toss and turn for about 1 minute.
  • Add the cooked pork slices back to the frying pan, along with all the juices coming with it. Continue to toss and turn using the pair of bamboo spatulas until the Napa cabbage start to wilt, about 2 minutes.
  • Pour in 1 tbsp naturally aged soy sauce and 1 tbsp light soy sauce into the pan in a circular motion, continue to turn and fold using the slotted turner for about 1 minute.
  • All done, enjoy a nice bowl of healthy & yummy one-pot meal!

Notes

  • Naturally aged soy sauce or Jiang You {酱油} is an ancient cooking condiment. Dark vs. Light Soy Sauce is a modern-day Cantonese invention. You can generally substitute Jiang You with Dark Soy Sauce.
  • It is easier to slice the pork into thin julienne when the pork is in a semi-frozen state. If the pork is previously frozen, take out a couple of hours in advance. If you use fresh pork, put them in the freezer for a couple of hours first if possible.

Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 732Total Fat 20gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 13gCholesterol 78mgSodium 1817mgCarbohydrates 100gFiber 5gSugar 3gProtein 38g

Nutrition calculation is provided by Nutritionix to the best knowledge per ingredients description and isn't always accurate.

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