Ba bao fan (八寶飯), or “Eight Treasures Rice”, is a lavish Chinese dessert made from glutinous rice, red bean paste and eight kinds of fruits or nuts. It’s quite rich, and rightfully so! This ‘pudding’ is traditionally served on Chinese New Years to celebrate wealth, balance, and good things to come!
The Eight Treasures’ name sake comes from the thought that the number 8 is very lucky! To aid that notion, the Mandarin word for eight ‘Bā’ sounds very similar to ‘Fā’; which happens to mean Wealth/Fortune. The toppings are made up of eight different kind of dried fruits, nuts and sweets. It is said that each of the chosen ingredients are to aid in ones health or happiness.. And with how extravagant this dessert can be, I believe it! However, if you find that some of the more traditional ingredients are difficult to come by, feel free to substitute! In my research, I’ve noticed that no two recipes are completely alike. And of course, while you don’t have to use eight different toppings.. Why wouldn’t you want to be
get be Lucky?
The commonly used treasures are: dried dates, lotus seeds, candied cherries/plums, sweetened winter melon, dried longan, red bean paste, assorted beans, different nuts, etc etc. You can also use things like candied ginger, candied orange peel, dried papaya, dried pineapple, cranberries, raisins.. so on so forth.
Chinese Eight Treasure Rice Pudding
from the Los Angeles Times
1.5 cups uncooked glutinous rice (aka sticky or sweet rice)
2 T sugar
1 T butter/ shortening/ lard
1 cup dried fruits of your choice (lotus seeds, apricots, pineapple, cranberries, mangoes, mandarin oranges, dried goji berry seeds, candied cherries)
1 cup sweet red bean/azuki paste (or more as needed)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsps cornstarch
Cook the rice according to the directions (omit salt) or in a rice cooker. When the rice is done, mix the hot rice with 2 tablespoons of sugar and the butter/ shortening/ lard, then set it aside. Chop any of the fruit according to how you want your design to look. Place the fruit in the bottom of a bowl in a pattern to your liking .
The main goal is to make a pretty floral-esque pattern with the fruits. Do this by arranging the inverted fruits on the inside of your bowl. I’ve seen some recipes recommend that you grease the inside of the bowl, perhaps for ease of release. I didn’t bother with that, but if you choose to, lard is the most traditional of the three choices.
Cover the top with the remaining rice and then press it all down to pack it tightly. Use wet hands to flatten the surface, so that the rice wont stick to you.
After the bowl has been packed, we will now be steaming the rice pudding (bowl uncovered) for about an hour. If you make small, individual puddings, you can steam for less time (about 30 minutes). While you wait for that to finish, you can make the simple syrup.
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
¼ teaspoon salt
In some traditional eight treasures rice pudding recipes, it advises the use of “sweet-scented osmanthus sauce”. You can find this at either your local Asian Market, or on Amazon.