Contributed by Ganpan Gao
Eight-treasure rice is a glistening dome of sweet, sticky rice with a jewel-like pattern of dried fruits and seeds and a dark, secret heart of red bean paste.
YIELD: Makes 8 dessert servings
ACTIVE TIME: 1 hour
TOTAL TIME: 3 ½ hours
- 2 ¼ cups Chinese or Japanese short-grain sticky (“sweet”) rice
- 1 teaspoon peanut or vegetable oil plus additional for greasing
- 3 ½ cups cold water
- ½ cup Chinese rock sugar pieces
- ⅓ cup dried pitted Chinese jujubes, cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick strips
- 8 pitted prunes, quartered (⅓ cup)
- 8 large dried apricots, cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips (⅓ cup)
- 3 tablespoons dried sour cherries
- 3 tablespoons diced (¼ inch) candied orange peel
- 8 walnut halves
- 8 teaspoons canned sweet red beans or sweet red-bean paste (from a 14- to 16-oz can)
A 9-inch round cake pan (2 inches deep); 8 (6- to 8-oz) custard cups or heat-proof bowls; a 17- by 12- by 2 ½-inch roasting pan; heavy-duty foil
- Rinse rice in a large sieve under cold running water until water runs clear, then drain. Combine rice, oil, and 2 cups cold water in cake pan.
- Put ½ inch of water in a 12-inch-wide pot or deep skillet. Set a metal rack (or a few metal cookie cutters) in bottom of pot, then set cake pan (with rice) on rack and bring water to a boil. Cover pot and steam over high heat, checking water level occasionally and adding more water if necessary, until rice is cooked, about 40 minutes. Carefully remove pan and cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, bring remaining 1 ½ cups cold water to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan with rock sugar, jujubes, prunes, apricots, cherries and orange peel, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until fruit is very soft and liquid is reduced to ¾ cup, about 45 minutes. Stir in walnuts and simmer 1 minute. Immediately drain in a medium-mesh sieve set over a bowl, reserving syrup and fruit separately. Remove walnuts from fruit and set aside. Note: syrup will be used throughout, including at serving.
- Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
- Lightly oil custard cups and a ⅓-cup measure. Put 1 walnut half in bottom of each cup, then spoon 2 tablespoons mixed fruit (per cup) on top, spreading evenly around bottom of each cup. (Note: a pretty arrangement of walnut and fruit at the bottom of the custard cup will be the top of the finished pudding.) Drizzle 1 teaspoon reserved fruit syrup over fruit in each cup, then press ⅓ cup rice (per custard cup) on top of fruit with dampened fingertips. Using your fingertips or back of a small spoon, make a small indentation in rice and fill with 1 teaspoon red beans (per cup), leaving at least a ½-inch border of rice. Drizzle 1 teaspoon fruit syrup over each rice pudding, then cover with 2 tablespoons rice (dip measuring spoon in water before measuring rice to prevent sticking). Using a small piece of plastic wrap, press rice in cups to flatten surface. Discard wrap.
- Arrange cups in roasting pan then add water to the pan so the cups are sitting in the water, which comes to about halfway up the sides of the cups. Oil a sheet of heavy-duty foil, then cover pan with foil (oiled side down) and seal tightly. Bake in the water bath 1 hour, then let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Run a knife around edge of each cup to loosen rice, then invert each pudding onto a dish.
- Drizzle each pudding with remaining fruit syrup. Note, infuse the remaining fruit syrup with Osmanthus or Rose essence for an extra burst of flavour.