Stir-fried nian gao

Adapted from The Woks of Life


  • some marinated meat (I used leftover chicken dumpling filling)
  • 1 pound rice cakes (I had frozen from my aunt)
  • 8 ounces baby bok choy
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 3 scallions, cut diagonally in 2.5 cm pieces
  • shiitake mushrooms (I had fresh! from SkyFoods)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • 1/2-3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • salt, to taste


  1. Marinate the julienned protein with light soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, vegetable oil, and cornstarch for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Rinse the rice cakes and drain. If using fresh or frozen rice cakes, you do not have to soak or thaw them. Only soak (according to package instructions) if using dried rice cakes.
  3. Thoroughly wash the baby bok choy. Drain, shaking off excess water. If using baby bok choy, separate into individual leaves. Also prepare the garlic and scallions.
  4. If using fresh mushrooms, slice them thinly. If using dried shiitake mushrooms, save the soaking liquid.
  5. Place your wok over high heat until it begins to smoke lightly. Add the vegetable oil to coat the wok, and add the pork and garlic. Cook until the pork turns opaque. If using mushrooms, add them now and stir-fry for 1 minute.
  6. Stir in the scallions, bok choy/cabbage, and Shaoxing wine. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, and move everything to the center of the wok to create an even “bed” of vegetables and meat. Distribute the rice cakes on top (this prevents them from sticking to the wok).
  7. Add water (or mushroom soaking water for extra flavor). Depending on how hot your stove gets, you can add 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup. Cover, and cook for 2 minutes to steam the rice cakes and cook the vegetables.
  8. Remove the cover, and add the sesame oil, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, oyster sauce, white pepper, and sugar. Stir-fry everything together for 1 minute over medium heat. Taste, and season with additional salt if necessary. Continue stir-frying until the rice cakes are coated in sauce, cooked through but still chewy. Plate and serve!

Apparently, stir-fried rice cakes are known in Chinese as “chao niángāo” (炒年糕), which is different from the sweet nian gao “cake” that is also traditional New Year’s fare. We substituted with ground chicken because of dietary preferences in the party, and we had some leftover carrot matchsticks from the summer rolls. This would have been an even more elaborate dish to make, but thankfully there was a real wok! And thankfully there were multiple hands on deck to help with the preparation. No one had ever tried something like this before, so it was a fun experiment! ^_^


Chinese shrimp stir fry

Adapted from Steamy Kitchen


  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce (I didn’t have)
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro minced (optional, I didn’t use)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 pound shrimp peeled and deveined (tails left intact)
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil divided (I used butter, peanut oil preferable)
  • 3 scallions, chopped (I wish I’d had, used red onion instead)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger, microplane grater (I wish I’d had)


  1. Pat the shrimp very dry with paper towels. In a medium bowl, add shrimp and cornstarch and toss to coat.
  2. In a wok over high heat, add half the peanut oil (butter) and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. When the wok is very hot, add the shrimp in a single layer and cook partially until one side is nicely seared, about 1 minute. Flip and sear the other side of each shrimp, about one more minute. They don’t need to be cooked all the way through yet. Remove them to a plate and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine oyster sauce, soy sauce and cilantro and set aside.
  4. Turn the heat down to medium and let wok cool off a bit to prevent the aromatics from burning. Add the remaining cooking oil and add green onion (I had red onion), garlic and ginger (couldn’t find) and stir fry for a minute until fragrant. [I used other vegetables, like lima beans, which I added to the wok and stir fried until bright in color and crisp-crunchy.]
  5. Pour in the sauce mixture and add the shrimp back into the pan. Stir fry for another minute or so until shrimp is cooked through. Serve immediately.

Some AirBnB tenants left some frozen shrimp, and I had garlic and butter, so… Home-cooked meal ^_^ My only regret is not having ginger and scallions — I don’t think the lima beans or red onions were the best complement.


Stir-fried snow pea leaves

IMG_2691.JPGAdapted from The Woks of Life and Viet World Kitchen

1 lb snow pea leaves
3 tablespoons duck fat or canola or peanut oil
3-5 cloves of finely chopped fresh garlic (depending on how much you like)
½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
a bit of chicken stock, or warm water if you have not
1 teaspoon cornstarch
oyster sauce

Oil the wok, season it with some salt. Add garlic and ginger to the wok on medium-high. Stir fry the greens rapidly, not allowing any to burn, but just to wilt. Flavor with a few splashes of stock if you have on hand. Mix the pepper, sesame oil, more stock, and cornstarch until you have a nice slurry. Pour this into the wok, coat the leaves, then cover for a couple of minutes, to evaporate and thicken the sauce. Plate the greens and top with oyster sauce. Serve hot.


P.S. Same vegetable as my Garlic pea shoots post.

Chinese broccoli with garlic

IMG_2674Adapted from steamy kitchen Gai Lan

400 g Chinese broccoli (Gai Lan)
cooking (vegetable) oil
3-4 whole garlic cloves, peeled and gently smashed but left intact
1/2 thumb of fresh ginger, cut into coins and smashed
Chinese rice wine, sugar, oyster sauce, sesame oil
cornstarch mixed with cool water (1:2)

Rinse the greens. Trim the ends. Cut diagonally, approximately splitting the leaves and (edible!) stems. Mince the garlic, grate the ginger if you prefer that. Add the oil to your wok and heat on medium-high. Saute the garlic, then ginger, until fragrant, without burning. Add the gai lan but watch out for oil splatters! Wield the wok lid as a shield if need be. I added diluted soy sauce to substitute vegetable stock, and steam covered for 3-4 minutes. Heat the oyster sauce and sesame oil and cornstarch water, all mixed together for 1 minute to thicken a brown sauce.


Amber’s Method:
Soak the greens in cool water for 10 minutes, several times. Trim the end but don’t cut them in half. Smash the garlic cloves, slice the ginger. Add enough vegetable oil to coat the pan (proportionate to the amount of greens) and a pinch of salt to the wok. Saute the garlic, then ginger, then add the green and stir and toss constantly, quickly. Stir-fry, basically. Do not steam covered. After a few minutes, plate the greens. Drizzle the oyster sauce and serve immediately.


Asian greens are great. I think it would have been nice to make this with mushrooms, although I hadn’t any in the fridge at the time. Next time perhaps!