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 our area.
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
Stir Fried Rice Cake Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- ¾ teaspoon Chinese black vinegar
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- 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.
✎ Recipe Notes
- 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.
*Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools.
This was my first time making a dish with rice cakes, and I absolutely loved it. Much simpler to prepare than expected, and it tasted restaurant quality. Highly recommend!
That's great to hear it was restaurant quality! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe. It tasted just like I hoped!
I added a little extra garlic, as I can never resist, but otherwise followed as per the recipe. Will be making this dish again for sure. Can't wait to try some of your other recipes also!
That's great to hear Lucy! I also add extra garlic to everything. 🙂
Second time making this, and it certainly won't be the last!
I am a vegan, so I leave the chicken out and use a vegan oyster sauce substitute. I love how so many of your recipes have the option to do this - it makes meal time much more interesting and delicious for my partner and I!
I'm so glad to hear that you and your partner enjoyed these rice cakes!
Made this for lunch today and I loved it! So easy and glad to know the technique how to cook the rice cakes the right way 🙂
Thank you Marcee! That makes me so happy! 🙂
Nian gao is one of my favorite since I was little. Authentic Chinese food is not readily available here so I look for recipes that duplicate my favorite dishes. This recipe is very accurate on flavor and look. I was leary about the sugar and vinegar, but those are the ingredients I've been missing all this time. Thank you for your post. This recipe is bookmarked.
Thank you so much Denise! I'm so glad you loved the recipe!
OMG Thank you!! what a great recipe. I love Din Tai Fung and this recipe is exactly the taste I was looking for. Delish!! Next time I will follow the recipe exactly. Tonight I wanted to use up leftover bulgogi and broccoli. I threw them in with the rice cakes and sauce and it was yummy!
That sounds delicious with bulgogi and broccoli! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Such a great recipe!!
Wow, this dish is right up my alley! We order a lot of takeout, but I will definitely be trying this instead!
I have been searching for a recipe similar to my local restaurant for some time, and I was so excited to find yours. It is so good and really simple. I appreciated all of your helpful tips. I followed the recipe exactly. Next time, I think I will try with shrimp! 5 stars.
Thanks Rory! Glad to hear it!