Ba bao fan is a sticky and moist glutinous rice pudding studded with candied fruits, nuts, and seeds. A traditional Chinese New Year treat you can easily make at home. Recipe is also Instant Pot-friendly.
Yes, Chinese New Year mode is in full mode now 🙂 It’s less than a month a way and here’s a popular Chinese sweet treat during Chinese New Year named as eight treasure rice pudding I would like to share with all of you.
CHINESE STICKY RICE PUDDING
We see lots of fruit cake during the festive holiday season like Christmas, this is sort of the Chinese version of sweet treat you will see during Chinese New Year. Ba means eight, Bao means treasure Fan means rice and yep…you got it..eight treasure rice 🙂 Chinese like the number “8”. It is considered a lucky number because the sounds of eight is homophone with “fa”, which means prosperity (there you go again with prosperity!). So usually eight kinds of different assortments like dried fruit, nuts, and seeds are usually included to make this ba bao fan. The sticky rice is cooked and then mix with the dried fruits, nuts, and seeds and press into a mold and then steamed and serve with syrup on the side. Some people will arrange the assortments into decorative patterns.
WHAT TO INCLUDE IN BA BAO FAN
Eight treasures are needed to make this ba bao fan. You can include whatever you like really. Keep them colorful if possible. I used: dried longan, candied mango, Chinese red dates, Chinese black dates, golden raisin, dried cranberries, goji berries. I’m missing one item I realize 🙂 I counted the red bean paste as the eight items! 🙂
You can also use assortments like: candied cherries, candied citrus peel, black raisins, lotus seeds, pine nuts. These are just examples. You can include whatever you like. Try to keep the color bright and cheerful by including yellow, orange, and red if possible.
COOK GLUTINOUS RICE WITH PRESSURE COOKER WHEN POSSIBLE
My favorite way of cooking glutinous rice now is using Instant pot pressure cooker (or any pressure cooker) because I don’t need to soak the rice and it cooks so much quicker compared to traditional method of soaking and steaming.
HOW TO MAKE BA BAO FAN FROM SCRATCH
You can find instruction for traditional method and pressure cooker method for cooking the rice in the recipe card below. These photos below show how I cooked the rice with pressure cooker.
1. Pot-in-pot method
I don’t like to cook glutinous rice directly using the inner pot of Instant pot. By cooking the rice inside another heat-proof container is so much easier and less chance of setting the “burn” message off. So it’s call pot-in-pot method. Pour water inside the inner pot. I place water and rice inside the container and set this on top of the trivet. Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes and then wait 10 minutes and release pressure
2. Mix the rice with brown sugar and butter
3. Butter the inside of the mold you are going to use. It can be a pie pan, a bundt pan, or several small molds for individual serving. It’s up to you. I use 7-inch round pie pan
4. Arrange the soaked dried fruit into any pattern you like on the mold
5. Gently spread half of the rice on top of the pattern, trying your best not to disturb the pattern
6. I use a parchment paper to cover on top and gently press the rice to pack it down a bit
7. Layer with red bean paste
8. Layer with the rest half of the rice
9. Steam for 30 minutes to let the flavor absorbs into the rice and then turn out onto a serving platter
10. While the rice is steaming, make the syrup by placing water, sugar, and dried fruits in a small saucepan
11. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to let it gently simmer until thickened to syrup consistency
12. Syrup is ready
13. Serve with syrup and drizzle of condensed milk
My husband says that condensed milk is a must for him to eat ba bao fan 🙂 I’m big sucker for condensed milk too. I love it on my dessert.
My decorative pattern wasn’t as attractive as I imagined LOL! Next time I’ll try a bowl or maybe mini bundt pan!
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For baking/ kueh making: I highly encourage to weigh ingredients with a digital kitchen scale instead of using measuring cups as they are not very accurate especially when it comes to recipe that requires precision.GRAMS TO CUPS CONVERSION (UNSIFTED)
Glutinous rice pudding:
- 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
Optional dried fruit for the syrup:
- 2 Tbsp golden raisin
- 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
- Condensed milk - optional
- Soak the glutinous rice for at least 4 hours. Overnight if you plan ahead.
- Soak all the dried fruits in warm water for 30 minutes until softened. Then slice the mango into 8 thin strips
Cooking the rice on the stove:
- Add glutinous rice and water to a shallow steaming dish. Steam over high heat for 30-45 minutes or until the rice is soft and sticky. Remember to check the water level in the steamer and refill as needed
- Stir in brown sugar and butter. If the rice is a bit dry, add a bit more water and stir again until it's creamy, but not wet. Set aside and continue to the assembling step below
Cooking the rice with Instant pot pressure cooker:
- Add 2 cups of water in Instant Pot inner pot. Put the trivet in there. Rinse the sticky rice in water briefly. Drain off the water. Place the rice in a heat-proof glass or stainless steel bowl. Add 2 cups water to cover the rice. Give it a quick stir and make sure all rice is submerged in water. Place this on top of the trivet. Close the lid, steam release handle to sealed. Press pressure cook and set to high pressure and use -/+ to set the time to 15 minutes
- When the sticky rice is done cooking, wait for about 10 minutes and make sure that the float valve is down. Then turn the steam handle to venting. Once the steam is all out and stops hissing, open the lid carefully. The sticky rice should be soft and sticky. Stir in brown sugar and butter. Set aside and continue to the assembling step below
- Drain the soaked dried fruits and set aside
- Bring water in the steamer to a boil over high heat. Rub the mold you are going to use for the rice pudding with butter. I'm using 7-inch round pie pan. You can use the steamer function in Instant pot too by pouring 2 cups water into the inner pot
- For non-decorative pattern: If you are not going to make any decorative pattern then simply mix the soaked dried fruit with the rice pudding. Spread half of the rice pudding on the mold. Press down to evenly spread then top with one layer of red bean paste and then the other half of the rice. Use a rubber spatula to smooth
- For decorative pattern: If you are going to make a decorative pattern, arrange the dried fruit on the mold and. Spread half of the rice pudding on top of this very gently, trying not to disturb the pattern you just created below. Gently press down with a spatula to evenly spread then top with one layer of red bean paste and then the other half of the rice. Use a rubber spatula to smooth
- Lower the heat to medium and steam the rice pudding for 30 minutes. If using instant pot, press steamer and set timer to 30 minutes
Prepare the syrup while rice is steaming:
- Place water, sugar and dried fruits (optional) in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar started to thicken to a syrup consistency
- Use a knife to gently loosen the side of the pudding and then cover with a serving plate on top and quickly turn over and the rice pudding will plop onto the plate. Serve with the syrup and condensed milk if you choose to use