I don’t remember any time in my life when I chose an egg tart or a pineapple bun over a grilled rice cake at my local Chinese bakery. Unlike a pineapple bun, these rice cakes aren’t available at every Chinese bakery and I often have more luck finding them in a less trendy, more traditional-style bakery. These rice cakes only have two Chinese characters for its description, 燒餅, and the best translation for it would be ‘grilled rice cake.’ What the simplicity of the name doesn’t tell you unfortunately is what truly makes these grilled rice cakes so special – it uses glutinous rice flour instead of regular rice flour, which produces a mochi-like texture. Grilling or frying these mochi-like cakes give them an extra layer of flavour and texture compared to traditional steamed mochi. A common filling for these rice cakes is red bean but I actually prefer it plain (reasoning: I don’t want any filling to disrupt the chewy sensation of the glutinous rice cake).
I’ve never thought of making these rice cakes because they’re usually $1 at the bakery; I didn’t see the need or have the desire to make them because they’re so affordable to buy. Now that I see these rice cakes less and less, I needed my own recipe as a backup just in case I have a craving (which is always) and can’t rush to a Chinese bakery in Richmond (a 30 minute drive) to buy one (or many).
- 1 cup and 3 tbsp (150g) glutinous rice flour
- 100 ml (100g) water
- 3 tbsp (45g) granulated sugar
- 40 ml (40g) coconut milk
- 2 1/4 tsp (10g) vegetable oil
- Weigh out 150g of glutinous rice flour in a medium-sized bowl. It is important that you use glutinous rice (also called sweet rice flour) and not regular rice flour. Regular rice flour does not create a chewy rice cake. Set aside the bowl.
- Combine water, sugar, coconut milk, and oil in a small pot and bring it to a simmer.
- Once mixture reaches a simmer, quickly pour mixture into the bowl with the glutinous rice flour. Using chopsticks (or a spatula), stir the mixture quickly until fully combined and forms a ball. The mixture might look shaggy and broken at first, but keep on stirring and it will come together. Once the dough can be gathered into a ball, add a little bit of vegetable oil to your hands and knead the dough until it is elastic-y and smooth, about 10 minutes. If the mixture is still too dry, add water a tablespoon at a time.
- Once mixture is smooth and shiny, divide the dough into 6 – 8 equal portions and roll into balls. Flatten each ball with the palm of your hands and a set aside.
- Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Coat pan with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Add 3 – 4 discs of dough at a time and cook until golden brown, about 4 – 5 minutes on each side.
- Remove from the skillet and allow to cool a couple of minutes before eating.