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here come the holidays

Recipe: fried mochi rice (nuo mi fan)

I walked to the back of the store where just a week prior, the aisles had been loaded with bags upon bags of Halloween candy. Nerds. Snickers. Twix. Life Savers. But instead of witches and skeletons, white Christmas trees strewn in sparkly silver tinsel and metallic red and green baubles now loomed high overhead as I approached. There was a sad, lone island of discounted Halloween candy for sale – a paltry remnant of the once Super Sugar Coma Mega Center. I grabbed a couple of bags and continued on my way, careful not to linger long under the impending holidays.

I am a terrible holiday person. Holidays = Thanksgiving and Christmas. I wasn’t always this way, but over the years I have scrutinized the holidays (and most other things in my life) through the lenses of practicality and sanity. The holidays are neither practical nor sane. Jeremy and I have determined that our favorite way to pass the holidays is to be outside on the snow – preferably with a dog.

and now we have the snow and the dog

she has no idea how cold it is going to get in crested butte

The one person I did travel for over the holidays was my Grandma when she was alive. As she got older, it became more burdensome for her to fly to visit her daughters, who are scattered across the country (also, the airlines suck). If she was going to be alone in California over Thanksgiving or Christmas, I’d book a flight to see her and Jeremy would occasionally join me. I’d do what I always do – take her out to run errands, try different restaurants, and just spend time listening to her, holding her hand, and being with her. I loved that woman so much. So so much.

One year, Jeremy and I accompanied Grandma to my second cousin’s gigantic annual Christmas party where tray after tray of delectable Chinese food was lined up on buffet tables as the festivities got under way (my second cousin is head of catering at a restaurant). There was a rice dish I sampled and really liked, but never got around to asking what it was called because my brain was busy switching back and forth between Chinese and English while conversing with the elders as well as the kids. These things can and do slip from your mind. It was a few more years before I was reminded of that lovely rice – because my pal, Lisa, posted a recipe for it for her 2009 Thanksgiving. But my memory was fuzzy and I wasn’t sure if that was the dish I had eaten at the party. Was it a stuffing? Was it just a rice dish? And then something clicked in my brain last month. I finally did some research and got around to making it myself!

Of course, the first thing my mom said when I told her I made it was that I used the wrong ingredients and then she said I cooked it wrong (mom stir-fries and then steams). [EDIT: I have since tried making this dish Mom’s way and I like that BETTER. Instructions on this method are added to the recipe below.] Turns out, as with most things, there are different ways to make nuo mi fan or lo mi fan or fried mochi rice or fried sticky rice. Apparently there are just as many names as recipes. The key is the sticky rice, which is also called sweet rice or glutinous rice. Gluten-free folks should not shy away from glutinous rice as it has no gluten, it’s just called that because it’s so damn sticky. That said, if you are gluten-free, you should be aware of things like soy sauce and the char siu pork which may or may not contain gluten.

This recipe will require a trip to an Asian grocery store unless you have a crazy awesome well-stocked ethnic aisle in your typical supermarket. Chinese sausage (lap cheong) can be found in the refrigerated section at your Asian grocer. At least, that’s where I found mine after scouring the aisles ten times over. These sweet and savory sausages will need to be steamed before chopping them up for the rice. The glutinous rice will most likely be called sweet rice. The grains resemble little oblong pearls and the brand I like most is Koda Farms. As for the scallops, the only place I ever see them is at the Chinese medicine counter. You might be able to find them packaged with all of the other dried sea creatures in a dedicated aisle, but do look for a separate counter with large glass jars filled with dried scallops (refer to the photos in the xo sauce post). For this recipe, you can get away with broken pieces which are more affordable than whole dried scallops.

lap cheong

sweet rice

dried scallops

You can purchase char siu pork (barbecue Chinese pork) or make it yourself. In the interest of time and sanity, I bought some fresh from the counter at the Asian grocer where roasted duck, sausages (they sometimes have fresh lap cheong), and char siu pork hang. For the sake of being able to cook and photograph a manageable quantity, I photographed making half of the recipe. The recipe listed below is the full recipe.

sweet rice, soy sauce, sesame oil, vegetable oil, cilantro, green onions, dried chinese mushrooms, water, salt, white pepper, dried scallops, char siu pork, lap cheong

rinse the rice until the rinse water runs clear

steam the sausage and rehydrate the mushrooms and scallops

If you cook the sweet rice using a traditional steamer, the rice will need to soak in water for several hours and then you have to pour boiling water over the rice before steaming it. It sounds like a pain in the ass, and I suspect it probably is. Thankfully, my rice cooker (a Zojirushi) has a sweet rice setting. The instructions for cooking sweet rice according to Zojirushi are to let the rice sit in a colander for 30 minutes after rinsing, and then cook like you would regular rice (except on the sweet rice setting). So much easier and a pretty consistent result. When I later made the full recipe, I had to cook my rice in two batches. The recipe I followed called for water to be added to the “sauce”. Mom told me that the soaking water for the dried scallops is much like the soaking water for dried porcini – it’s liquid gold packed full of umami goodness. Rather than tossing it out, I strained it and used it in place of the water for the sauce. If there is any fine sediment left in your soaking liquid, just be sure to leave it behind in the vessel rather than in your sauce. If you come up short of the required amount, just top it off with water.

cook the rice

dice the sausage

shred the scallops by hand (this takes patience)

The prep is the most time consuming part of the recipe. Once you have all of the ingredients diced, chopped, steamed, shredded, it cooks in mere minutes. The rice is sticky (hence the name), so be sure to break up the clumps and get an even distribution of the sauce on everything. I don’t recommend using a non-stick pan for the stir-frying, because the crunchy stuck bits are the best part. I used a stainless steel stock pot and had some of the rice stick (browned, but not burnt) to the bottom. After everything was cooked, I scraped up the bottom layer with a stainless steel spatula and mixed it into the rice. That stuff is awesome and the clean up was easier than I expected!

ready to make nuo mi fan

mix the soy sauce, white pepper, sesame oil, and scallop liquid

sautรฉ the sausage and the barbecue pork

add the rice and break up any clumps

stir in the scallop, mushrooms, and sauce

finish with salt, green onions, and cilantro

Nuo mi fan has a lot going on – the texture is chewy and satisfying, yet delicate. The flavors are a combination of earthy, umami, savory, and sweet, with a little funky heat coming from the white pepper (I didn’t think I’d like it, but i love it). It’s best served warm or hot because the rice gets hard and pasty when cold. This can be eaten as a main or a side and I’ve recently seen it served as a sort of stuffing with roasted Chinese-style chicken (on Instagram, because I don’t get out much otherwise). Mom informs me that she’ll show me the “right” way to make it when I see her next. I’ll happily watch her make her recipe, but this one tastes like a winner to me. It is perfect snowy weather food.

serve hot

a half recipe can feed 4-6 people

studded with all of the goodies

Fried Mochi Rice (Nuo Mi Fan)
[print recipe]
from Rasa Malaysia

32 oz. (~4 cups) sweet rice
4 links lap cheong (Chinese sausages), cooked (steamed) and diced
1 cup char siu pork (Chinese barbecue pork), diced
1 oz. dried scallops, soaked in hot water for an hour, shredded (reserve the liquid)
8 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for an hour, squeezed and diced
3/4 cup soy sauce*
3/4 cup reserved scallop soaking liquid (strained), if you don’t have enough add water to make 3/4 cup
2 tsps sesame oil
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
2 tbsps vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt or mushroom seasoning (I used salt)
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

* For METHOD 2, only use 1/2 cup soy sauce and add 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine and 1 tablespoon oyster sauce.

METHOD 1: Steam the rice, then fry the rice.

Cook the sweet rice: Wash and drain the rice under cold water several times until the water runs clear (about four rinses).

If using a traditional steamer: place the rice in a bowl and cover the rice with water. Let the rice soak 3-4 hours or overnight. Fill the steamer with 1-2 inches of water and bring it to a boil. Line the steam basket with damp cheesecloth. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a kettle or pan. Drain the rice in a colander and pour boiling water over the rice evenly. Spread the rice over the cheesecloth in an even layer, cover, and steam for 20 minutes. Remove the rice from the steamer and cover with a kitchen towel to keep it moist. You will likely have to steam the rice in batches.

If using a rice cooker: Let the rice sit for 30 minutes in a strainer or colander. Steam the rice according to your rice cooker’s instructions.

Prepare the sausages, mushrooms, and scallops: Steam the lap cheong according to the package instructions (I steamed mine for 15 minutes). Dice the sausages. Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and pour boiling water over the mushrooms until they are covered (they will float to the top). Cover with a small plate. When the mushrooms are rehydrated (soft all the way through), rinse them in cold water and squeeze as much of the water out as possible. Trim the stems and dice the mushrooms. Place the dried scallops in a small bowl and pour a cup of boiling water over the pieces. Cover with a small plate. The scallops are ready when they are softened and come apart in strands easily. Strain the liquid through a sieve and reserve 3/4 cup (if you somehow don’t have enough, add water to the liquid until you get 3/4 cup). Shred the scallop by pulling the shreds apart with your fingers (this is tedious work, but worth it).

Make the fried rice: Combine the soy sauce, scallop water, sesame oil, and white pepper in a bowl. Set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large wok or deep sautรฉ pan over medium high heat. Stir-fry the Chinese sausage and char siu pork until heated through. Add the rice and fry for 2-3 minutes (it will take some work to manipulate all of the rice). Break up any clumps of rice with your spatula. Add the scallops and mushrooms to the rice. Pour the sauce over the rice and mix well until the rice is evenly coated. Season with salt and keep stir-frying the rice, taking care to scrape the bottom so the rice doesn’t burn. Scrape up any bits that get stuck on the bottom, because that’s the best part! Remove from heat. Stir in green onions and cilantro. Serves 8-10.

METHOD 2: Fry the rice, then steam the rice in a rice cooker. This is my preferred method.

All ingredients are the same as METHOD 1 except you will only need 1/2 cup of soy sauce and you will add 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine, and 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce. NOTE: I’m assuming you’ll cook the rice in the rice cooker because I haven’t tested how to make it without one.

Wash and drain the rice under cold water several times until the water runs clear (about four rinses). Let the rice drain and sit for 30 minutes in a strainer or colander.

Prepare the sausages, mushrooms, and scallops the same as in METHOD 1.

Combine the soy sauce, scallop water, Shaoxing wine, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and white pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

Fry the rice: Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large wok or deep sautรฉ pan over medium high heat. Stir-fry the Chinese sausage and char siu pork until heated through. Add the scallops, mushrooms, and rice and stir together. Pour the sauce over the rice and mix well until the rice is evenly coated. Let simmer for 2 minutes. Season with salt and remove from heat. Put half of the rice mixture into your rice cooker and pour enough water in to just cover the surface of the rice. Use the sweet rice setting on your rice cooker or if your rice cooker doesn’t have one, put it on the usual setting for white rice and when it is done, allow the rice to sit (closed) for another 15 minutes either on the “keep warm” setting or in the residual heat (the rice cooker should no longer be actively cooking). If the rice isn’t done, close the lid and give it more time. Cook the remaining half of the rice the same way.

Serve hot with green onions and cilantro. Serves 8-10.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

favorite chinese fried rice kimchi fried rice chinese eight treasure rice pudding chinese fermented sweet rice (jiu niang)

15 nibbles at “here come the holidays”

  1. Heather (Delicious Not Gorgeous) says:

    i love no mai fan! it’s ultimate comfort food to me. normally i just chuck the uncooked rice, seasonings, water, pan-fried lap cheong (pan-fried to render off some of the fat) and dried shittake into a rice cooker and let it go. this one sounds like a super special version (at least to me, because of the char siu and scallops), and i can’t wait to make it for my family over the holidays!

  2. Rosa says:

    That fried mocha rice looks delicious! Thanks for sharing that recipe with us.



  3. Chefhelen says:

    I’m glad I’m (we, I guess) not the only one who is Grinch like when it comes to the holidays. My hub is Dutch (I imported him) and goes over to see his mom at Thanksgiving time because he has time off and for many years I was a chef and Thanksgiving just meant the start of the busy season. We usually just hang out at Christmas and fend off friends who want to decorate our house! This year we will be in New Orleans for what will ( hopefully, fingers crossed) be the last of 7 breast cancer surgeries. I can’t wait to see how pretty New Orleans will be, otherwise I just want to order a few yummy things and wait for the days to get longer again! Happy Holidays to you guys! I wish you much snow and many puppy snuggles!

  4. katzcradul says:

    I’m from the Texas Gulf Coast, very close to Louisiana and definitely in Cajun country. We make a dish so similar to this called jambalaya! It’s amazing how similar the two dishes are. We use oysters and sausage. We wouldn’t use soy sauce, and the cilantro would be replaced with lots of chopped parsley. It’s comfort food. Yours dish looks delicious.

  5. Eva @ Eva Bakes says:

    I definitely ate a lot of Nuo Mi Fan growing up but have been too chicken to make it on my own. You make it sound so simple – looks like something I’m definitely going to need to make soon!

  6. cindy says:

    yum and love! those dried scallops are so delicious in here. this is what our family has been using for turkey stuffing for years now – our take for an east-west thanksgiving :)

  7. Christine says:

    My friend’s family uses this rice (with dried shrimp instead of – or maybe in addition to the scallops) as stuffing for Thanksgiving! Such a fan!

  8. Susanne says:

    Oh, this just made my day! That looks amazeballs.

  9. Melanie says:

    Until reading this post, and your friend Lisa’s blog, I had no idea that this fried sticky rice recipe was popular at Chinese-American Thanksgiving! Here in Canada, my (Cantonese-speaking) mom makes it for Christmas as an alternative to traditional stuffing, and she always adds cooked chestnuts for a festive touch. Now I’m curious as to how this holiday tradition spread amongst the diaspora in North America. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Tammie says:

    Great recipe!! My husband (who is Chinese) wants to come over to your house for dinner! He says when his Mom makes this dish she uses 50%white rice and 50% sweet rice and steams in the rice cooker as usual to make this step a bit easier.

  11. jenyu says:

    Heather – that’s kind of how my mom says to do it. I think both versions sound awesome :)

    Rosa – thank you!

    Chefhelen – oh, I hope the surgeries go well and that you recover quickly. Sending you all the best healing thoughts xxoo

    katzcradul – thanks! And I *love* jambalaya, but this dish is really different in texture and flavor. I hope you get to try it!

    Eva – I never ate it very much growing up. I think I got short-changed! ;)

    cindy – I think I’d harbor more affectionate feelings for Thanksgiving if this were my stuffing!

    Christine – yes, my mom said to use dried shrimp instead of scallop! :)

    Susanne – yay!

    Melanie – I didn’t know either until I read Lisa’s blog. But it’s so good that it makes total sense, right? :) And honestly, I think Western Thanksgiving food is rather dull.

    Tammie – My friend Lisa also does the half-half rice. I think either way is fine. I really love the stickiness of the sweet rice, though!

  12. Sherry says:

    This is actually one of the first dishes I remember making with my mother… I was probably eight years old at the time and it was super easy… But even though I’ve always heard it was a Thanksgiving thing for Chinese-Americans but it was never a thing for my family since we never really did Thanksgiving. It was more of a big meal with family with slightly more care taken into making the food. And I think it was more of a thing for people whose families probably have had a longer history in the US than mine…

    With us, we usually chop up some of those sweet and salty dried radishes to add in. And instead of BBQ pork, we always used Chinese bacon. And more strangely, the last few times my mother made this for me, she added peanuts as well… I have no idea if that’s traditional or not but it was certainly not used back when we were kids.

    I don’t know if it’s because of all the lap mei, or that we tend to have it more when it’s cold, but I’ve always associated this dish with winter…

  13. elaine|ChinaSichuanFood says:

    Sticky rice is always wonderful with sausages. I always cook them in rice cooker. Love the wonderful photos.

  14. Lindsey says:

    I always come back to this recipe 1-2 times a year and am never disappointed. I had never heard of this dish before seeing it here and I adore it! I live in the Midwest and could not find dried scallops anywhere in my nearest big city. Even my tried and true international store told me they quit selling them due to price :( In late 2016, I took a trip to Seattle and hit up the Chinatown there specifically for the food and to find dried scallops. Lucky me, I found a shop that had them! I’m about to use up the last of them this weekend making this recipe and wonder how or when I will find them again? Maybe I’ll just have to fly to a different, bigger city than my nearest big city and hope for the best! Thanks for all your great recipes!

  15. jenyu says:

    Lindsey – You can order them online at Amazon if you search for dried scallops. Best of luck and hope you find some soon :)

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