Zong Bao

Deep-Fried Glutinous Rice Cakes

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    6 to 8

    as Snacks or as Dessert.

Appears in

In China, almost any edible ingredient can be turned into a quick meal. Snacks vary according to the region, local preferences, and the season. Still, wherever you wander in China, you are sure to find something tasty for a quick bite to keep you going, whether shopping, working, or strolling along. The smells from the food stalls are always so tempting.

While exploring the fascinating markets of the remote village of Yi Liang Gou Jie, I happened upon an elderly woman selling these glutinous rice cakes. She wrapped the cakes in bamboo leaves and boiled them. When a customer ordered one, she unwrapped the cake and dropped it into hot oil. It quickly puffed up and turned golden brown and crispy. She then scooped it out, drained it, and sprinkled it with sugar. Glutinous rice is sweet and has a sticky texture that makes it easy to mould into any shape. In this recipe, I have slightly altered the method, by cooking the rice in a pot and then pressing it into a cake tin, bamboo leaves not always being available. The final results are the same. It’s a delicious snack but also makes a rather unusual dessert.

Read more


  • 450 g/1 lb glutinous or sweet rice
  • 450 ml/16 fl oz water
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 450 ml/16 fl oz peanut oil
  • sugar for dipping


In a large bowl, combine the rice with enough cold water to cover it at least by 5 cm/2 in. Soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain well.

In a medium-sized pot, combine the rice and water. Bring the mixture to the boil, reduce the heat, cover, and cook for 40 minutes.

Using kitchen paper, rub 1 tablespoon of oil on all sides of a 20-cm/8-in square cake tin. Press the rice into the tin, cover it with aluminium foil, and press down on all sides until the rice is compressed as much as possible. Allow the rice to cool thoroughly.

Turn the rice onto a chopping board. It should fall out in one piece. Cut the rice into 7.5 x 4-cm/3 x -in pieces.

Heat a wok or large frying pan until hot. Add the oil, and when it is hot, drop in the rice squares, a few at a time, and deep-fry until they are golden and crispy. Drain the squares thoroughly on kitchen paper. Serve warm with a dish of sugar for dipping.