Monday, January 23, 2012

BA-BAO FUN - Chinese Eight Treasure Rice

For the longest time, I wanted to try making this.    It was one of the dessert dish that I always wondered how it is made.     It is so pretty with all the dates and dried fruits and nuts cut into flower shapes or in other form and artfully placed all around the sweet (glutinous) rice.    At the center of it all is yet another surprise - sweet red beans.     It is normally served at the large banquet party at the end of the course meal.    I don't see it served at the Chinese restaurants over here in the States.     My first experience is at the large multi-family banquet while living in Japan.    After 12 some dishes of wonderful colorful servings of varieties of meat and vegetable dishes all made from scratch by every women of the families in the kitchen, Ba-Bao Fun is served.    I always look for the Jujube dates and Longan - 'dragon's eyes' in it.    They are my favorites.   They are more like Northern province dessert than the south, 'I think'.   I have not done my homework, yet, to find out, because I have not seen it served often at the banquets held in South Viet-Nam (or here in the States.)     While my version does not include the normal LONGAN, cooked Ginko nuts, rehydrated and precooked Lotus nuts, peeled/roasted peanuts, and maraschino cherry, Jujube dates, peeled walnuts, red beans, Gwei Hwa, e.g. and long-grain sweet glutinous rice from Thailand .....  I included the Jujube, golden raisins, walnuts, cranberries, candied oranges (homemade) that I have in my pantry.      The result?   for the first timer, it turned out ... let's say A- for the taste.      I need to work on the fruits and nuts arrangement better the next time.

Jujube fruits - naturally air dried over the summer.        Rehydrate it a bit with some water and steam it in the microwave.

Arrange anything you like in a buttered or oiled bowl.     Oil is to help with releasing / unmolding of the 'sticky' rice when done.

Sweet glutinous rice is washed and kept hydrated overnight or for 4 hours min.       Then, cook it  -  If you have "Zojirushi" brand atomic rice cooker, set the 'menu' to "sweet rice".      If you have a regular rice cooker with no menu selection, just cook it normal.      But be aware that "New Crop" rice always need 1/2 cup less water per cup to cook.    (You don't want mushy rice.)   The old fashion way is to Steam cook the Sweet Rice in the Chinese steamer.
After arranging the fruits and nuts in the bowl.     Fill it up with cooked sweet rice in concave shape - hollow center - so you can fill it with red bean paste of your choice.    Then, fill the top up to seal the top.     Press down gently to pack.     Fill with some more sweet rice, if needed.
Place on top of a plate.     Fill with 2 TB or 1/4 C of water and cover with microwaveable cover.
Microwave for 5 minutes.         Place a serving plate on top of the bowl and invert carefully - wear mitten or hold the bowl with towels.    !! be very careful - the bowl if very hot .
Drizzle the the top with the prepared honey syrup/glaze.

Serve warm.

Tips:   if using walnuts, find peeled walnuts or peel walnuts before using. I did not remember to do that and it caused some bitterness.     And had to pick the walnuts out while eating.    Option is to use peel toasted almond and peeled peanuts.

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