Food - Drink
The Show-Stopping Rice Dessert That Binds Families On Lunar New Year
By LAUREN ROTHMAN
While many celebrate the New Year on January 1, the exact day of the holiday varies by culture. In China and other parts of Asia, the Lunar New Year (whose date is determined by the lunar calendar) is a huge celebration where families come together and eat traditional dishes, like Eight Treasure rice pudding, an iconically luxe dessert.
Eight Treasure rice pudding is made of steamed sticky rice that hides a center of sweet red bean paste, which is crowned with eight different treats, including dried fruits and nuts. Once assembled, the whole dessert is steamed until soft and fragrant, then inverted onto a plate to show its beautiful pattern of colorful ingredients.
To make Eight Treasure pudding, you need eight treats (which can include different dried fruits, nuts, and seeds), sweetened red bean paste, and sticky rice. Grease a deep, heat-proof bowl and arrange a pattern of your "treasures" on the bottom before mounding on a layer of rice that’s been soaked overnight and mixed with a little sugar.
Next, spread on a layer of bean paste before topping it off with the rest of the rice, pat the rice flat, and pour in enough water to rise to the same level as the ingredients. Place the whole bowl into a bamboo steamer set over a wok for about an hour, until the rice is cooked through and the bean paste is hot, before inverting and serving.
Legend has it that the Eight Treasure rice pudding originated in ancient China as a way to commend the bravery of eight knights who assisted in overthrowing a king. It is just one of the dishes that’s referred to as an "Eight Treasure" food, all of which are associated with good luck and wealth, just like the number eight itself.