Sticky Rice Cake with Red Bean Paste

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Sticky rice cake is crispy on the outside with a gooey texture inside. You will smell the toasted sesame seeds from afar. The first bite of the slightly spongy and pleasantly fragrant rice cake has such a delightful mouthfeel. The sweet and moist red bean paste will melt in your mouth so quickly that won’t be able to resist devouring the whole cake!

The sticky rice cake with red bean paste is one of my favorite desserts in local Chinese restaurants. Actually, it is not a very standard Chinese dessert and not many restaurants serve it. But since both red bean paste and sticky rice are commonly used in Chinese desserts and pastries, to combine them into one treat makes perfect sense.

I tried my best to recreate this delicious pastry, but I chose to grill the cake in a skillet instead of deep frying. The original version of the cake isn’t coated with sesame seeds and has a golden surface. However, I really don’t like to fry things at home as I always prefer cooking with less oil. So, I invented this method to coat the cake with sesame seeds so the dough won’t stick to the bottom of the skillet, even with little oil in the pan. Plus, it gives the cake a great nutty flavor.

Sticky Rice Cake with Red Bean Paste | Omnivore's CookbookSticky Rice Cake with Red Bean Paste 2

A few more words about Chinese desserts

Compared to the cakes, cookies, and desserts from Europe or the US, Chinese desserts are not nearly as sweet. Instead of butter and flour, they often use lard and glutinous rice flour. Instead of butter cream frosting, they use red bean paste, date paste, or sesame paste to add sweetness. Instead of baking, they invariably require steaming or frying.

If you are not familiar with Chinese desserts, you might find all these elements very strange. However, if you’ve ever tried dessert from Japan or Southeast Asian countries, you might find some similarities among them. If you keep an open mind and would like to try out new things, I hope you will give Chinese desserts, such as this rice cake, a chance as well.

Sometimes, I tend to eat this dish as a snack instead of as a dessert. It is not as indulgent as a piece of cheese cake. Instead, it is quite filling and healthy. Unlike with a snickers bar, I won’t feel guilty at all if I gulp down two slices of rice cake after a workout.

Sticky Rice Cake with Red Bean Paste | Omnivore's Cookbook

To make sticky rice cake with red bean paste

It is super easy to make this dish and you only need four ingredients. You can find both glutinous rice flour and red bean paste at a Chinese or Asian market. You could also make your own red bean paste at home. It is healthier and even tastier than the kind you’ll find in the supermarket.

When you shop for glutinous rice flour (also called sweet rice flour), make sure you choose the kind that is milled from long grain sweet rice, which is for grilling and baking. The texture is stiff and will form a very crispy surface when heated. The one made from short grain rice is also called mochiko, often used to make cold desserts such as Japanese mochi. Even with the same label, “glutinous rice flour”, it could be made from long grain or short grain rice. Pay attention to this when picking your flour.

Also notice, the so-called glutinous flour (because of the sticky texture) is actually gluten free. However, if you are gluten intolerant, you should look for the variety specifically labelled as gluten free.

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Meet Maggie

Born and raised in Beijing, Maggie now calls Texas home. She’s learned to love barbecue, but her heart belongs to the food she grew up with. For her, Omnivore’s Cookbook is all about introducing cooks to real-deal Chinese dishes, which can be as easy as a 30-minute stir-fry or as adventurous as making your own dim sum. Recipes, step-by-step photos and video are the tools she uses to share her knowledge—and her enthusiasm for Chinese food.

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43 thoughts on “Sticky Rice Cake with Red Bean Paste

  1. Min

    Wow! Thank you so so much for sharing, Maggie! This is seriously one of my favs and I never dared to make this at home bc like you, I don’t like to fry anything in my kitchen! Brilliant! Pinned.

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Min, thanks for sharing! Yeah, I totally understand your feeling towards fried food, and I didn’t expect this dish is so easy to cook at home. Glad you like it 🙂

      Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Interesting, I didn’t know there is a Korean version of red bean paste dessert too! I’d like to try it if I ever come across them! Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Reply
  2. Thalia @ butter and brioche

    Wow these red bean rice cakes definitely take me back to my childhood! My Chinese grandfather used to always make something similar for me to devour. Thanks for reminding me how awesome and delicious they are.. definitely need to recreate the recipe asap!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Thalia, I didn’t know you have a Chinese grandfather! Really glad to hear that there is quite some people like the taste of red bean paste, I was afraid the flavor is too unfamiliar to non-Chinese readers. Besides the sticky rice version, I think the paste goes great in a baked crispy pastry. Do you think so?

      Reply
      1. lily

        So excited 2 find what I’ve been searching for since mom past away. But she made a “sieu bang ” which had no filling & was sweetened which we wrapped a pc of crispy roast pork in it. It was baked & hot water used to mix w/the glut flour. So I have not yet accomplished my search. Any idea?

        Reply
  3. Lokness @ The Missing Lokness

    I hate frying at home too. Grease flying everywhere in the kitchen. What a smart idea to coat the rice cake with sesame seeds. Add more flavors and great crispy texture. I love red bean and rice cake. This is totally a must try. Your pictures are gorgeous as always, Maggie!

    Reply
    1. Annie

      Love these! My mom sometimes makes something like this, but it’s a full cake with red bean paste in various places (because she mixes it slightly). It has the exact same texture…..I was wondering if you could make that, along with some history? I need some background information on it for school…..you don’t need to, please don’t feel like I’m commenting just to get information, these are truly awesome!

      Reply
  4. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    I had way too much fun watching your video for this sticky rice cakes and I have to say I’d need like 5 of them at one sitting… Looks so good. I love red bean sweets. Japanese mochi we don’t really fry it, so it’s very fun seeing how you guys make this. Oh and I love the sticky mochi shot! Brilliant!!!!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Isn’t it interesting that Chinese and Japanese dishes share so many similar ingredients, but they also have slight differences? I love eating mochi while I was living in Japan, but never thought it uses different type of rice flour (short grain vs. long grain). Took me some time to figure that out!
      Watching your Daifuku video was great fun for me too! I’d never imagine you need to steam the dough first!

      Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Yes, the rice flour is even easier to deal with than wheat flour. The dish was intimidating to me at first, but then I was so surprised how easy it is when I made it! Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Reply
  5. Susan

    I’m excited to see this recipe. It takes me back about 40 years to when I took a Chinese cooking class with some ladies I worked with. I really enjoyed this dessert and am delighted that I can now make it if want to (but I’m not sure my husband would like it). Thank you for posting this recipe.

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Susan, thanks for leaving a comment and I’m glad to hear you like this dessert! It’s interesting to learn that Chinese cooking class choose this one to teach, because I thought it’s not so well known outside of China. Hope you have a nice weekend and happy cooking! 🙂

      Reply
      1. Susan

        Actually, Maggie, I think that one of my co-workers, a Japanese lady brought them to class. I don’t remember them being fried, but I do remember that they tasted really good.

        Reply
        1. Maggie Post author

          I know the Japanese one and you’re right, it’s not fried. The Japanese rice cake uses the other type of glutinous flour (the one that is milled from short grain sweet rice), and the dough is steamed before wrapping with the red bean fillings. The recipe here uses the glutinous flour that is milled from long grain sweet rice. The surface of dough will turn crispy after heated, while the texture inside is still gooey. (Sorry this might sound confusing)
          If by any chance you want to make the Japanese rice cake, you can get the recipe here => http://www.justonecookbook.com/recipes/daifuku/
          I guess it’s close to the one you mentioned. I cooked a lot of Japanese food from Nami’s site and she has amazing Japanese recipes. Hope this is helpful 🙂

          Reply
  6. Linus

    Hey Maggie,

    Great blog! I only recently discovered it and the recipes are really excellent.

    This take on the sticky rice cake really reminds me of the Korean street food Hotteok, the construction and cooking method are very similar, although the dough and filling are a bit different. I’ll be sure to try it soon!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Linus, thanks so much for the kind words and so glad to hear you like my recipes!
      I just googled Hotteok, and yep, it really looks like the Chinese rice cake! I saw sometimes they use a filling with brown sugar and some nuts, and it sounds so delicious! Thanks for sharing this and I’d like to try out the Korean version filling with the rice cake too.
      Happy cooking and let me know how it goes 🙂

      Reply
  7. Saskia

    The glutinous rice flour I can get gives me no indication of what type of rice was used! If I use the wrong sort will it be a complete disaster or will it just have a different texture to what it is supposed to?

    Reply
      1. Maggie Post author

        Hi Saskia, I just checked the rice flour on the website you told me, it’s the same brand as the one I used, so it should be the right one. Even if you used the wrong type, it won’t cause a huge problem (the finished cake will has a less crispy surface, but still tasty). Hope is helpful and happy cooking!

        Reply
  8. Tweety

    Hi Maggie,
    I have been looking for this kind of great recipe! Wow. your recipe is like a GOD-sent!
    I love this pastry and it’s hard to find in everywhere, it seems!
    Thank you so much.
    I will continue to follow your recipes and support you to come out with more and more inspiring recipes.

    Regards,

    Happy Beginner to baking

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Thanks for the comment and all the kind words! So glad to hear you like the recipe, and the type of pastry. Dessert that made from sticky rice is very common here, but it’s probably not a standard dessert item outside of Asia. It’s great to hear someone out there cares about it 🙂
      Also, please feel free to drop me a message if there’s a recipe you can’t find.
      Have a wonderful day and happy cooking!

      Reply
  9. Kathleen | HapaNom

    Oh Maggie! This looks fantastic! I absolutely love desserts like this (American desserts tend to be too sweet for my liking). While I haven’t had this exact dessert before, I imagine it would taste much like toasted mochi – would that be about right?

    Reply
  10. Bam's Kitchen

    I can’t believe it! I have read this recipe a million times before, but did not comment!! This recipe rocks and have made it a few times before and your directions are spot on. Well we need to make that at least 9K repins so on my way to share, pin and send smoke signals… Wishing you and awesome weekend!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Freya, I never tried to steam these cakes. I’m afraid they won’t hold the shape so well. The surface will turn crispy and adds a nice texture. If you steam the whole thing, it will be quite gooey and sticky. I won’t recommend to steam them.

      Reply
  11. Marion

    I want to bring these to a dinner party. Can I/should I cook them at home and bring them precooked? If so, should I simply serve them at room temperature, or reheat them in my host’s kitchen? To reheat, would I microwave them or put them in the oven (on a low temperature)? If I shouldn’t cook them ahead, how would I transport uncooked rice cakes? Would they be okay in layers on wax paper, for example?

    Thanks so much for your help!
    Marion

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Marion, you can cook them at home and reheat the cakes at the party. To serve the cakes warm, the best way will be cooking them on stove top. You can place them in a non-stick skillet and cook over medium heat. When the skillet turns hot, flip the cakes, add a few tablespoons water and cover immediately. Turn to medium low heat and cook until the cakes are heated through. The cake will be crispy outside and gooey in texture. Alternatively, you can use microwave. The cakes will be gooey, but the surface won’t be crispy. I haven’t tried to reheat them in the oven. I think it’s possible, but you need to wrap the baking tray with aluminum foil and add a few drops water onto the tray, to prevent the cakes from drying out.
      I hope this is helpful, and your dish will be a hit at the party! 🙂

      Reply
      1. Marion

        So, I made these yesterday at home, brought them to my sister-in-law’s, rewarmed them as you suggested — and they were pronounced a success, including by my (knowledgeable) Japanese-American relatives! Yay!! (And I like them cold, too.) My only complaint is that I found it impossible to completely enclose the red bean paste filling. Before I started that step, they looked just like your picture of the ball of red bean paste on top of the cake — but in your picture it looks impossible to get that little bit of cake around that big ball of red bean paste, and that proved to be the case in real life. I started putting less filling in each one, but I still never managed one that didn’t show some red filling on the outside. Fortunately, unlike some pastries I’ve made, it didn’t really matter: The filling didn’t ooze out, and the sesame seeds mostly covered up the messy look. Also, I found it easier when I wet my hands and added a little more water to the dough, so maybe I should’ve had
        more water in the dough to begin with; maybe that would’ve helped.

        Anyway, thanks for the recipe and for the help!! It was fun making, serving, and eating these — and I doubled the recipe, so I still have some!

        Reply
        1. Maggie Post author

          Hi Marion, I’m SO glad to hear the cakes received good review! You just made my day 🙂
          Yeah, the wrapping part can be tricky, because the dough won’t hold together like wheat flour (no gluten inside). Yes, adding a bit more water to make a tenderer dough will be helpful. The dough is quite forgiving, and you can adjust its texture even after kneading. The dough will be easy to wrap, when it’s tender and able to spread with hand, without breaking it apart. It will become sticky if it turns too soft. On the other hand, just as you said, it won’t cause a problem even the filling is not completely enclosed.
          I’m so glad to hear you enjoy the cooking too! And thanks for leaving a thorough feedback to let me know 🙂 You’re so kind.
          Enjoy the rest of the weekend Marion!

          Reply
  12. Nikky

    I absolutely love these … so excited to try these out at home .

    Being nigerian we also eat red bean paste but with coconut milk sweet and with chillies .

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      I’m so glad to hear you like the recipe Nikky!
      Wow, I didn’t know you cooking with red bean paste too. Adding coconut milk and chillies into it sounds so delicious! Is that a cake filling too? I really want to try it out 🙂

      Reply
      1. Nikky

        We dont do it within a cake but i tried it and its absolutely amazing .

        With your original recipe after frying it

        Reply
  13. Shanna Hattaway

    daifuku, my favorite! I can’t leave my local produce stand without buying one. The addiction is real.

    Reply

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