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Taiwanese Sticky Rice

Taiwanese Sticky Rice is called You fan (油饭). People in Taiwan will gift this dish to their friends to celebrate newborn babies. You can also serve it whenever there is a family gathering. You can tell how delicious this dish is as it has such an important societal role in Taiwanese cuisine.

This dish is very similar to Cantonese Lo Mai Gai (糯米鸡) as the majority of the ingredients are the same. You will need 2 cups of glutinous rice. Rinse and rub the grains to remove the excess starch, then discard the liquid. Do this 3-5 times until the water becomes clear. Soak the glutinous rice with clean water for at least 2 hours.

Glutinous rice is also known as sweet rice or sticky rice. You cannot use regular rice as a replacement because the texture and the taste are very different.


Besides that, you will also need to soak 6-8 pieces of dried shitake mushrooms and 25 grams of dried shrimp in some clean water. they will also need about 2 hours to be rehydrated.

Once the rice is done soaking, drain it completely. Place a damp cheesecloth on the steamer and put the rice on top of that. There are many ways to cook glutinous rice, but steaming is the best method in maintaining the qq texture because the rice doesn’t contact the water directly. Make sure to make some holes to allow air circulation.

Place the steamer above a pot that is filled with some cold water. Turn the heat to high and bring it to a boil. Once you can see the steam coming out. Switch the heat to medium and steam for 30 minutes.

During this time, you can prepare the rest of the ingredients.

  • Squeeze the mushrooms and slice them thinly.
  • Remove the dried shrimp from the water. Save the soaking liquid to use later.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely mince them.
  • 200 grams of skinless pork belly. Slice it thinly.

Toss the pork belly into the wok without oil. Stir this over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes or until you can see a lot of oil rendered out from the pork. The pork should be golden as well. Push them to the side. We will use the fat to sauté the garlic, shrimp and mushroom for a few minutes to activate the umami flavor.

Now we will add the seasonings: 1/3 cup of Chinese cooking wine, 4.5 tbsps. of soy sauce, 1 tbsp of dark soy sauce, 1 tbsp of sugar, 1 tsp of five-spice powder, 1 tsp of white pepper. Give this a stir then toss in 1/3 cup of crispy fried shallots. Stir this for a minute to mingle everything together.

Fried shallot is one of the signature ingredients in Taiwanese cuisine. It adds so much flavor and makes everything smell wonderful.

Pour in 1/2 cup of the mushroom soaking liquid, reserve the rest on the side just so you can adjust the consistency later.

By now, the glutinous rice should be done steaming. Let’s check the texture. You see all the grains kept it’s own shape – nice and fluffy. If you cook this in a rice cooker, it will not come out as beautiful as this.

Toss it into the wok. Mix until you don’t see any white rice. While you are stirring, you have to keep an eye on the sauce amount. Turn off the heat as soon as all the sauce is gone, or else the rice will start sticking to the bottom. I think the liquid is just perfect. I didn’t need the rest of the mushroom soaking liquid. Don’t forget to drizzle in some sesame oil – very important in elevating the flavor. Keep mixing until you don’t see any white rice.

I know this looks amazing already and yes, you can eat it like this. But for better texture and flavor, we will steam this for another 20 minutes.

With the same steamer, I am going to place in a piece of lotus leaf. If you don’t have it, you can use parchment paper, banana leaves or corn husk. The original recipe uses cheese cloth, which is great to circulate the steam but I think it is so annoying to wash the cheese cloth after it contacts the soy sauce sticky rice. Poke some holes all the way through the lotus leaf for better circulation.

Place the steamer back on the pot. Let’s it steam of medium heat for 20 minutes.

Look at this. Every rice grain is brown and shiny. You can tell they are flavorful. I know this recipe is a bit complicated but trust me, the is by far the best way to eat sticky rice. Top with a little bit of fried shallot for some crunch. The combination of sticky rice, mushroom, and lotus leaf is just spectacular. There is nothing comparable.


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