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Two sticky rice cakes
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5 from 3 votes

Sichuan leaf-wrapped sticky rice cake (叶儿粑)

Soft, gooey dough stuffed with a tasty filling, Sichuan leaf-wrapped sticky rice cakes are a delightful, easy-to-make snack. This recipe shows you how to make them in two colours with two different fillings.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Dumplings, Glutinous rice, Sichuan
Servings: 12 savoury or sweet cakes
Author: Wei Guo

Ingredients

For the savoury filling

For the sweet filling

  • 120 g walnuts, toasted & crushed see note 2
  • 3 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted & crushed
  • 4 tablespoon dark brown sugar or to taste
  • 3 tablespoon softened butter or lard

For the dough

  • 200 g glutinous rice flour about 1.5 cup
  • 50 g rice flour about ⅓ cup
  • 2 tablespoon cooking oil or softened lard
  • 210 ml water about 14 tablespoon, see note 3
  • 3 teaspoon spinach powder or matcha powder optional, see note 4

You also need

  • Bamboo leaves, cut into 12 rectangle pieces see note 5 for substitutes

Instructions

Fry the savoury filling

  • Pour oil into a hot wok. Add pork and ginger. Fry until the meat turns pale.
  • Stir in Ya Cai. Then add Shaoxing rice wine, light & dark soy sauce, sugar & ground Sichuan pepper.
  • Cook for 1 minute or so. Stir in scallions. Mix then dish out. Leave to cool.

Make the sweet filling

  • Toast raw walnuts in a frying pan (without any oil) over low heat. When lightly browned, transfer to a plate to cool. Then put into a sealable plastic bag. Use a rolling pin to crush into small pieces.
  • Follow the same instruction to toast and crush raw sesame seeds (you may use ready toasted ones and simply crush them a little).
  • Mix them with brown sugar and butter/lard. Store in the fridge before assembly.

Prepare the dough

  • Add all the ingredients for the dough into a bowl. Mix with a pair of chopsticks/spatula until no liquid can be seen.
  • Knead by hand into a soft dough (but not sticky).
  • If you are using spinach or matcha powder to make a green dough, add a little more water (about 2 teaspoon).

Assemble (please refer to the video below)

  • Flatten a piece of dough and make it into a bowl shape.
  • Place a spoonful of the savoury or sweet filling in the middle.
  • Pinch with fingers to seal completely. Then gently roll it into a cylinder.
  • Place it onto the shiny side of a leaf.

Cook

  • Place the assembled cakes into steamer baskets. Bring water to a full boil in a wok/pot. Put the baskets on top.
  • Steam over medium heat for 8 mins. Serve warm.

Make in advance

  • You may freeze uncooked cakes right after they are assembled. Firstly place them in a single layer on a tray/plate lined with parchment paper. Once completely frozen, transfer to an airtight container/bag.
  • Steam for 12 mins without defrosting.

Video

Notes

1. Ya Cai (芽菜, preserved mustard greens) is often found in plastic packages labelled as Sui Mi Ya Cai (碎米芽菜), meaning finely chopped Ya Cai, which can be used directly. If you find it hard to source, replace with other types of preserved/fermented vegetables, such as Zha Cai (榨菜, preserved mustard stem), kimchi, etc.
2. Walnuts can be replaced by peanuts if you wish. Toast and crush them the same way.
3. You may need to slight adjust the flour-water ratio. If the dough appears to be dry, knead in a few drops of water. If too wet, sprinkle a little glutinous rice flour. 
4. You may also use spinach juice made with fresh spinach leaves: Briefly blanch them then puree in a food processor. Use a fine sieve to extract the juice. Mix with water then add the flour.
5. In Sichuan, tangerine leaves are often used as wrappers for this dish. You may also use banana leaves or corn husks. If none of these is available, use regular parchment paper instead.