Fan tuan is a classic sticky rice roll that is perfect for a filling breakfast. It is salty, sour, crunchy, soft, and customizable to your own taste!
Fan tuan is a glutinous rice roll that originated in Eastern China around Shanghai. Today, it has become a classic Shanghainese and Taiwanese breakfast item. You can find street food vendors selling these rolls for only one or two dollars. They quickly pack your desired toppings together into a round, oblong roll before wrapping in plastic wrap and tossing into a plastic bag.
You can find fan tuan served alongside other classic breakfast items such as salty soy milk and egg rolls. These various dishes are sure to keep you full and satiated throughout the day!
There are many different kinds of fan tuan. The oldest, most basic version of these sticky rice rolls typically included youtiao, glutinous rice, meat floss, and preserved vegetables. However, today there are many additional ingredients to appeal to younger generations. More fillings also contribute extra flavor and variety!
Any of the following ingredients can be added to the basic youtiao, glutinous rice, meat floss, and preserved vegetables fan tuan recipe:
- Protein: egg (fried, braised, or as an omelet), minced pork, chicken, tuna, bean curd, bacon
- Vegetables: kimchi, scallions, corn
- Miscellaneous: cheese, sesame seeds
- And many more
- There is also a sweet version of fan tuan that has sticky rice, youtiao, and brown sugar!
Different types of rice can be added, such as five-grain and purple rice, which give the fan tuan a unique nutty taste and firmer texture. Feel free to experiment with these ingredients and find out which ones you like best!
How to Make Fan Tuan
Steam the Sticky Rice
There are many different ways by which you can steam glutinous rice. You can use a stovetop steamer, a rice cooker, or a pressure cooker.
- Stovetop steamer: Rinse the sticky rice and add it to a bowl with enough water to cover 2 to 3 inches. Let the rice soak for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. After soaking, drain the rice and add it to a steamer lined with cheesecloth. Cover and steam the rice over boiling water for around 20 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and let the rice stand while still covered for 5 more minutes.
- Rice cooker: Add the 2 cups of rice and 1 1/3 cup of water to the rice cooker. Let the rice cooker steam the rice and let the rice sit for an additional 5 minutes afterward before opening the rice cooker. For extra soft rice, let the rice soak in the steamer for about 1 hour beforehand.
- Instant Pot: Add the 2 cups of rice and 1 1/3 cup of water to an Instant Pot safe container. Add one cup of water to the Instant Pot, set the trivet inside, and place the container with the rice and water on top. Cook on high pressure for 25 minutes and natural release.
Prepare the Fillings
Rinse the preserved mustard stems (Zha cai) and/or pickled radish to make them less salty/sour. Drain and chop finely. Heat a skillet with some oil. Add the mustard stems, garlic, sugar, and optional chili, and cook until dry and fragrant. Drizzle in some sesame oil at the end. Repeat with the radish.
Toast the Chinese cruller and fry the eggs if using.
Assemble the Fan Tuan
Begin by laying sticky rice onto a plastic wrap in a thin layer. Add your desired ingredients. Then, wrap and pack the ingredients tightly into a roll shape.
Twist and tightly seal the plastic wrap around the sticky rice roll to keep everything together. Using a sushi roll mat can also make this process easier.
- Assemble the fan tuan while the sticky rice is warm so that the rice does not dry out or get less sticky.
- It is easiest to flatten the sticky rice by using lightly dampened fingers.
- For the most basic fan tuan (sticky rice, cruller, preserved mustard stems, and pickled radish), 1/2 cup of sticky rice is enough. If you want to add more ingredients, increase the sticky rice used for one roll to 3/4 – 1 cup.
Fan Tuan, Taiwanese Sticky Rice Rolls (飯糰)
- 2 cups glutinous rice
- 1 1/3 cup water
- 1 youtiao Chinese Cruller
- Meat floss
Preserved mustard stems
- 1/2 cup preserved mustard stem 榨菜
- pinch of sugar
- 1 chili chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- sesame oil optional
- 1/2 cup pickled radish 菜脯
- pinch of sugar
- sesame oil optional
- Scallions see post above for even more fillings
- Steam the glutinous rice. See the post above for detailed instructions on steaming glutinous/sticky rice.
- Toast the Chinese cruller and divide it into four pieces.
- Rinse and dice the preserved mustard stem. Then, heat some oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard stem, sugar, chili, and garlic. Cook until the mustard is dry and fragrant. Optionally drizzle in some sesame oil and set aside.
- Rinse and dice the pickled radish, and heat more oil in the same skillet. Then, add in the radish and sugar. Cook until the radish is dry and fragrant. Optionally drizzle in some sesame oil and set aside.
- Prepare any other optional fillings.
- Spread 1/2 – 1 cup of sticky rice thinly on a piece of plastic wrap depending on how much filling you would like to have. Add one piece of youtiao, 1-2 tbsp each of preserved mustard stems and pickled radish, meat floss, and any other desired fillings on top.
- Use the plastic wrap to roll and squeeze all of the ingredients tightly into an oblong roll. You can also use a bamboo sushi mat to make the wrapping process easier.