I gotta say, that the first time I had Chao Nian Gao(stir fried rice cake), I wasn't too impressed. It was kinda sticky-gooey, and sank to the bottom of my belly and seemed to "camp out" for a good long period of time. It was interesting, because I'd never had rice cakes prepared in that manner. I did however have Korean Ddukbokki many times. Over the years, it has grown on me, and now I try to order Nian Gao whenever I see it on the menu. I usually see it on Shanghainese menus, though I recently had a version from a Yunnan Restaurant (post coming soon) that I thought was excellent.
On a whim, during a recent visit to 99 Ranch Market, I picked up a package of dried Nian Gao disks, you can also find the rice cakes rolled into a rod like form, and cut your own, though you can substitute Dduk..... So I purchased my Nian Gao, and did nothing with it. Finally, the Missus, tired of waiting, told me to make the darn thing...tonight....
I decided to go ahead and soak these overnight.... which became two nights when we got occupied doing other things. On the third day I figured I'd better get round to making these. What follows is a basic outline of what I did, not a proper recipe. I used only what was on hand in the fridge and cupboard.
I had just finished off my Oxtail Soup, and had leftover greens.
They call these "Shen Lee" at 99 Ranch Market. They have a mild bitter-mustardy flavor.
We usually don't have pork on hand, but always have dried shrimp in the refrigerator. We will use shrimp as a pork substitute in many of our dishes like Dried Fried Green Beans 干煸四季豆. It handles heat well, and will crisp up, tasting like shrimp bacon. So I used a couple of tablespoons of dried shrimp.
Instead of the standard lighter Shanghai version, I went with three types of soy sauce for flavoring, a dark, dark mushroom, and premium light soy sauces because, well, I just felt like it. 1 tsp each dark soy sauces and about 2 Tb light soy sauce. I also added a dash of white pepper. In retrospect, I should've also added some Sichuan Preserved Vegetable, but forgot I had some in cupboard.
And of course the Nian Gao:
The cooking technique used is, of course Chǎo(炒), a method of stirfying. As mentioned above, I made two batches of Chao Nian Gao. On my first attempt, I cooked on the stovetop to allow for mistakes and adjustments. Here's how it turned out:
On my next try, I broke out my Big Kahuna (now why does that sound so wrong???) and let her rip at 55,000 BTUs. What came out was delicious.......with some decent "wok hay":
Man, this was good. It had turned out better than I thought it would. It was still pretty heavy stuff, it fills you up pretty quickly and you'll stay full for a while. I guess I'm adding this dish to my Big Kahuna Files. It is as a whole just a basic stir-fry, and quite easy to make.
In fact, I just bought another bag of Nian Gao. This one says to soak for only two hours.......