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Ba Bao Fan, Chinese Eight Treasure Rice Pudding

Ba bao fan has many toppings and a red bean paste filling for a mildly sweet and soft dessert pudding. This delicious Chinese eight treasure rice pudding is often enjoyed during the Chinese new year.

Ba Bao Fan, Chinese Eight Treasure Rice Pudding Diagonal

Ba bao fan (八寶飯) is a popular Chinese new year rice pudding. Its Chinese name translates to eight treasure rice, which hints at the dish’s traditional preparation. 

Ba bao fan is traditionally a dessert made of steamed sticky rice mixed with sugar and lard. Then, the rice is placed in a bowl with eight different kinds of toppings or “treasures” and stuffed with red bean paste. Eight treasures are used because the number eight has the same pronunciation as the word for prospering in Chinese(发). Once steamed, the eight treasure rice pudding is coated in a sweet osmanthus syrup. The toppings are usually Chinese preserved and candied fruits. Some ingredients that can be used as toppings are:

  • Chinese medicinal ingredients: lotus seeds, longan, goji berries, jujube
  • Nuts/Seeds: walnuts, pecans, ginkgo nuts, pumpkin seeds, peanuts
  • Dried Fruits: lichee, loquat, ginger, candied winter melon, dried cranberries, raisins, prunes, apricot
  • Fresh fruit: pineapple ring, maraschino cherry

How to Make Ba Bao Fan

Steaming the Rice

Rinse the glutinous rice and let soak in water for at least 6 hours or overnight. Drain the water and steam until cooked. To steam the rice, add the rice to a heat-proof or pressure cooker-safe bowl. Add water and the bowl of soaked rice to your desired rice cooking appliance. You can find specific cooking times below. 

Steamed Rice

Rice Cooker Method: Steam for 30 minutes or until cooked through. 

Stovetop method: Bring the water to a boil before adding the bowl of rice into the steamer. Steam the rice for 30 minutes over medium heat or until cooked through. 

Instant Pot Method: Close and seal the lid. Set the rice to cook for 20 minutes on high pressure and natural release once finished. 

Mix the cooked rice with sugar, rice wine, and butter. Set aside.

Assembly and Cooking

Grease a medium-sized bowl with oil. Arrange the dried fruits at the bottom of the bowl. You can optionally arrange them in a pattern to make your eight treasure sticky rice fancier.

Arrange the Toppings
First Layer of Rice

Add half of the cooked rice on top of the dried fruits. Press the rice along the sides of the bowl to create a hollow center. In the center of the bowl, add the red bean paste. Place the remaining cooked rice on top of the red bean filling and press it flat. Steam the bowl over medium heat for one hour. 

Red Bean Paste Layer
Second Layer of Rice

Create the glaze

In a small saucepan, add 1 cup water, dried osmanthus flower, and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for around 5 minutes. 

Simmering the Syrup
Cornstarch Added

Mix the cornstarch and 1 tbsp water until smooth. Add the cornstarch slurry to the osmanthus syrup and stir quickly to combine. Once the sauce thickens, turn off the heat and set aside. 

Serve

Place your serving plate on top of the steaming bowl bottom side up. Then, flip the whole thing over to transfer the rice pudding to the plate. Pour the glaze over the rice pudding and serve. 

Notes and Tips

Soaking the Rice: The rice should be soaked long enough so that grains fall apart when pinched. A long soak will allow the rice to be very tender and have a soft pudding texture. 

Assembly: For dried ingredients such as jujube and longan, make sure to boil them into some water until soft before adding to the bowl.

Refrigerating: After assembling the rice pudding, you can optionally cover the rice pudding and refrigerate it for a day or two. Refrigerating can help prepare the dish ahead of time. It should not affect the flavor. 

Red Bean Paste: I highly recommend using homemade red bean paste to fill the rice pudding. Canned red bean paste can make the dish too sweet. If you are interested in making homemade red bean paste, you can follow my recipe here

Osmanthus Syrup: If you have osmanthus jam, you can use two teaspoons of it in place of the dried osmanthus. Add the jam to the water in a saucepan with one teaspoon of sugar, and bring it to a boil. There is no need to simmer. You can also omit the osmanthus, but it adds a floral note that elevates the dish significantly. You can usually find dried osmanthus/osmanthus jam in the tea section of your local Asian grocery, or you can buy it online.

Ba Bao Fan, Chinese Eight Treasure Rice Pudding

Ba bao fan has many toppings and a red bean paste filling for a mildly sweet and soft dessert pudding. This delicious Chinese eight treasure rice pudding is often enjoyed during the Chinese new year.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Soaking Time6 hrs
Total Time7 hrs 55 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: ba bao fan, Chinese new year rice pudding, eight treasure rice, eight treasure rice pudding, eight treasure sticky rice
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 320kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups glutinous rice 360 grams
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter or vegetable/coconut oil
  • 1 tsp rice wine
  • 1-2 cups red bean paste
  • 1 cup Chinese dried fruits/nuts ex: jujubes, lotus seeds, dried fruit, longyan, goji berries, nuts, etc.
  • oil for greasing the bowl

Glaze

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp dried osmanthus flower optional
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp corn starch + 1 tbsp water

Instructions

Prep the Rice/Toppings

  • Rinse the glutinous rice and let soak in water for at least 6 hours or overnight. Drain the water and steam until cooked. See the post above for cooking instructions.
  • Mix the cooked rice with sugar, rice wine, and butter. Set aside.
  • Boil any dried ingredients such as jujube and longan in some water until they are soft, around a few minutes. Drain and set aside.

Assembly and Cooking

  • Grease a medium-sized bowl with oil. Arrange the dried fruits at the bottom of the bowl. You can optionally arrange them in a pattern.
  • Add half of the cooked rice on top of the dried fruits. Press the rice along the sides of the bowl to create a hollow center. In the center of the bowl, add the red bean paste in an even layer. Place the remaining cooked rice on top of the red bean filling and press it flat. Note 1
  • Steam the bowl over medium heat for one hour.

Create the glaze

  • In a small saucepan, add 1 cup water, dried osmanthus flower, and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for around 5 minutes.
  • Mix the cornstarch and 1 tbsp water until smooth. Add the cornstarch slurry to the osmanthus syrup and stir quickly to combine. Once the sauce thickens, turn off the heat and set aside.

Serve

  • Place your serving plate on top of the steaming bowl bottom side up. Then, flip the whole thing over to transfer the rice pudding to the plate.
  • Pour the glaze over the rice pudding and serve.

Notes

  1. At this point, you can choose to refrigerate the rice pudding for a day or two before steaming and serving it.

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