If you're a fan of the stir-fry rice cakes at Din Tai Fung, you'll love these savory Chinese stir-fry rice cakes cooked with fatty pork loin and salty potherb mustard greens.
A little history behind rice cakes
Chinese rice cakes (年糕）were traditionally served during Chinese New Year's as its name is synonymous to "raising oneself higher." However, the dish can be found in most restaurants and is eaten throughout the year.
I loved eating variations of this dish as a child. Being from Shanghai, I've typically always eaten this dish with either chicken or pork and fresh Shepherd's Purse (a type of potherb). The most decadent being a crab stir-fry rice cake dish (a seafood dish that is popular in Ningbo city in China). The rice cakes are made with glutinous rice flour, and when cooked a specific way, are extremely chewy. By far one of my favorite carbs.
While rice cakes originated from China, the ingredient has found its way across Asia. In Asian supermarkets, you may find them in different shapes. Korean spicy stir-fry rice cake (ddukbokki) uses cylindrical rice cakes. We'll be using the flat oval ones seen below.
What are pickled potherb mustards?
As a fan of pickled vegetables, I wanted to remake the more traditional Shanghai-region recipe with pickled potherb mustards. These are easier to find in Asian supermarkets and come in manageable packets for less than a dollar each.
You will rarely find these outside of the Asian supermarkets. Potherbs mustards is called 雪菜 and literally translates to "a vegetable growing in the snow." Historical records has shown that this vegetable has been popular for its health benefits since the 900's. I purchase them packaged and pickled, thus they already have an added saltiness. You'll see that this dish requires less seasoning towards the end and more marination for the meat.
Can I substitute the potherb mustard greens?
Yes! If the mustard greens are not available near you, you can always substitute with another leafy green such as bokchoy. You may want to keep the bokchoy in the pan a little longer than you would the potherbs to let the leafy greens cook down a bit.
- Rice cakes: There are a variety of rice cakes in Asian cuisine, two notable differences are the ones that are shaped like flat discs and then the tube-like ones that are used in Korean Rice Paper Tteokbokki. For this Chinese recipe, we will be using the flat oval ones seen in the image above.
- Pork loin
- Cornstarch: Cornstarch helps to keep the meats moist while allowing it to crisp up in the pan and have sauce adhere better to its surface.
- Dark soy sauce: Adds depth of flavor and is slightly sweeter and less salty than light soy sauce.
- Light soy sauce: This will be used to both marinade the pork and as part of the final sauce.
- Oyster sauce
- Sesame oil
- Shaoxing wine: Sub with dry sherry if you don't have Shaoxing wine on hand. Shaoxing wine is a staple in Chinese cuisine and is typically added to meats to remove game-y flavors.
- White pepper powder
- Granulated sugar
- Potherb mustard greens: These preserved mustard greens are key to a traditional stir-fry rice cake. However, you can sub these with bokchoy or another leafy green.
1. Rice cakes can be found in frozen, dried, or fresh packaging. Follow the instructions on the package. Dried rice cakes will require a soak time to soften. Boil a pot of water and then soak the rice cakes while preparing the rest of the dish. Many other recipes will tell you to soak for 2 hours or overnight. However, I have found that an hour soak is enough for my desired consistency.
However, if you're using fresh or frozen rice cakes, you will not need to soak beforehand.
2. Marinade pork loin with light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, and cornstarch. Mix and let sit for 20 minutes.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of neutral oil in a pan and begin stir-frying the pork with garlic and ginger on high heat. Cook until the pork is no longer pink.
4. Drain the rice cakes (if soaking) and add into the pork mixture. If you used fresh rice cakes, then add ½ cup water to allow the rice cakes to soften. Stir continuously.
5. Add the potherb mustard greens (or whatever you are subbing for mustard greens). If using another leafy green, you may want to stir-fry for slightly longer so the greens will soften.
6. Lastly, add in the dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, oyster sauce, granulated sugar and white pepper. Stir until all the ingredients are evenly coated with the sauce.
- Sub pork with chicken: If you would prefer chicken, use chicken breast and slice thinly so they would be similar in shape and size as pork loin strips.
- Sub potherb mustard greens with other leafy greens: Potherb mustard greens may not be easily found if you don't have a Chinese supermarket near you. You can sub with bokchoy or cabbage.
- Add shiitake mushrooms: For more volume, add fresh slice shiitake mushrooms. If using mushrooms, add them when you add in your greens and stir-fry for slightly longer to allow the mushrooms to cook down.
Chinese Stir-Fry Rice Cakes
- If using dry rice cakes, soak in boiling water for an hour until the rice cakes soften. If using fresh rice cakes, soak in boiling water for a couple minutes and drain.
- Marinate pork with light soy sauce, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, white pepper, and cornstarch. Let sit for 20 minutes.
- Heat up 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a skillet. Cook pork loin with garlic and ginger until pork isno longer pink.
- Drain rice cakes (if soaking) and add to the pork. If using fresh or frozen rice cakes, add directly to the pan and add ½ cup of water to allow rice cakes to soften. Sauté with pork for 2 minutes.
- Add in potherb mustard greens. Stir.
- Lastly, add in dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, sugar, oyster sauce, and granulated sugar. Stir until all ingredients are thoroughly coated.