Stir fried Shanghai rice cakes with shiitake mushrooms & cabbage in a delicious, savory Asian soy based sauce, also known as Chao Nian Gao. Inspired by Din Tai Fung Shanghai rice cakes!
These stir fried Shanghai rice cakes are a favorite Asian comfort food I grew up eating as a kid. If you’ve never had stir fried rice cakes, they’re wonderfully soft but chewy and are great at absorbing sauces when they’re stir fried.
This recipe is also inspired by Din Tai Fung Shanghai rice cakes, one of my favorite dishes to order whenever I go to Din Tai Fung, a popular restaurant here in Seattle.
Chao Nian Gao – Stir Fried Shanghai Rice Cakes for Chinese New Year
Chao Nian Gao or stir fried Shanghai rice cakes are typically eaten during the Chinese New Year because it’s considered to bring good luck and fortune for the new year. Nian Gao is pronounced similarly to “higher year,” which symbolizes raising or elevating oneself for the coming year.
How to Soften and Cook Dried Rice Cakes?
Depending on how your rice cakes came packaged, you may have to soften the Asian rice cakes by soaking them in water before adding them to any recipe. If you bought fresh rice cakes, they will be very soft to the touch and chewy. You don’t need to rehydrate fresh rice cakes.
After softening and soaking the dried rice cakes, you can cook them in a stir fry like this recipe, or you can boil them in a soup, or even grill or bake them.
Rehydrating & Soaking Asian Rice Cakes
If your rice cakes came packaged in a vacuum packed bag, most likely they need to be soaked and softened. Open the bag and feel the rice cakes. If they’re completely dried out and hard, you’ll need to soak the rice cakes in water for at least 3 hours to overnight in the fridge to soften them. Otherwise, the rice cakes will remain hard even after cooking and you won’t get the same texture as the Din Tai Fung Shanghai rice cakes.
How to Make Din Tai Fung Stir Fried Shanghai Rice Cakes – Chao Nian Gao
Ingredients for Din Tai Fung Stir Fried Shanghai Rice Cakes
The ingredients for these stir fried rice cakes are fairly simple and go well with any veggies you have around the house. For this recipe, I used shiitake mushrooms, napa cabbage, and chicken breast. See notes below on other vegetables that go well with this recipe.
Before starting, be sure to rehydrate the rice cakes in a bowl of water if they came dried and vacuum packed. Do this ahead of time the night before in the fridge or at least 3 hours before stir frying.
Heat a wok over high heat and cook the thinly sliced chicken breast. Once the chicken is almost cooked through, add in the shiitake mushrooms and scallions. Din Tai Fung Shanghai rice cakes don’t have mushrooms but I added them in because that’s how my mom used to make this dish for me and the mushrooms add a lot of flavor.
If you’re looking for an exact copycat of Din Tai Fung Shanghai rice cakes, skip the mushrooms and chop your chicken into smaller pieces.
Next, add in the pre-soaked sliced rice cakes and the sauce. Mix this all together for a few minutes until the rice cakes start to soften.
Add the sliced napa cabbage in last so they stay crunchy. Stir fry them together for a few minutes and taste one rice cake. The rice cake should be soft yet chewy. If it’s still hard, you can add 1 to 2 Tablespoons of water and continue to stir fry everything together for 1 to 2 more minutes.
Variations on Stir Fried Shanghai Rice Cakes
Stir fried rice cakes is pretty versatile and go great with any type of protein and vegetables.
Protein: chicken, pork, beef, shrimp
Vegetarian Protein: fried tofu, seitan, tempeh
Vegetables: broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, celery, onions, snow peas
Storing Leftovers & Reheating
- Store leftovers in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Chao Nian Gao can be frozen and reheated in the microwave. Store them in an airtight freezer safe container for up to 1 month.
- Reheat in the microwave for 2 minutes or until the rice cakes become soft and chewy. The rice cakes harden in the fridge so I recommend mixing the rice cakes halfway through to make sure they reheat evenly.
I hope you enjoy these Din Tai Fung inspired stir fried Shanghai rice cakes!
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Stir Fried Shanghai Rice Cakes
- 16 oz rice cakes pre-soak if using dried rice cakes
- 1 lb chicken breast thinly sliced, about ⅓ inch thick
- 3 Tablespoons avocado oil
- 5 large shiitake mushrooms sliced about ⅓ inch thick with stems removed
- 4 cups napa cabbage chopped into 2 inch pieces
- 3 scallions chopped into 2 inch pieces
- If using dried rice cakes, pre-soak them in water for about 3 hours or overnight in the fridge. After 30 minutes, carefully separate the rice cakes so they're not stuck together.
- Add the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and mix it together until the sugar dissolves.
- Heat a wok or large pan on high heat and add the avocado oil. Once the pan is hot, lay the chicken pieces flat on the surface and let it cook for about 1 to 2 minutes or until it's almost cooked through.
- Next, add the mushrooms and scallions to the pan and stir fry for about 1 minute. Add in the drained rice cakes and add 4 Tablespoons of the sauce. Stir fry the rice cakes together for 2 – 3 minutes and then add in the chopped cabbage. If needed, add in the rest of the sauce and stir fry everything together for another 2 – 3 minutes or until the rice cakes are soft and chewy and the cabbage has wilted. Taste a rice cake to be sure it's fully softened. Add 1 Tablespoon of water if needed to further soften it up while stir frying. Serve immediately.
- If your rice cakes come frozen or vacuum packed, check if they need to be soaked in water before cooking. If they are hard, rigid, and feel dry, they need to be soaked in water for at least 3 hours or overnight in the fridge.
- If the rice cakes are still hard after stir frying, add 2 Tablespoons of water to the pan and continue to stir fry.
- For vegetarians, replace the chicken with fried tofu, seitan, or other vegetables and use vegetarian oyster sauce instead.