Hometown (中山) style steamed rice cake with radish, bacon and dried shrimps; memories of grand uncle ‘Chi’
I am visiting my old grandaunt & granduncle today. I will cook them their favorite steamed glutinous rice cake.
As an orphan, my mother wished to join her sister in the U.S. since she was a young girl. After trying for many years without success, she married my father at the age of 28. My father has many relatives in Australia, one of them is the Uncle Chi’s family.
Uncle Chi is my granduncle. He is a cousin of my late grandfather from the ZhongShan (中山) prefecture in the GuangDong province. My granduncle’s family came to Australia during the gold rush era in early 1900s. The family opened a peanut shop in Newcastle with a roasting workshop at the back. The peanut shop had a table in the corner, with old Chinese ladies dropping by daily to enjoy a cup of Chinese tea and a few chats.
My granduncle went to high school and he was academically excellent. He took over the family business instead of pursuing university. This was considered the right thing to do by the family.
During 1940s, granduncle went back to ZhongShan for an arranged marriage. He married a pretty and educated maiden from a well-off family. My grandaunt came to Australia, without a maid on her side for the first time, learned to cook and raised 6 children.
When the peanut shop was sold to a large competitor, the family opened up a Chinese restaurant. They worked really hard. According to their children, they were in the restaurant ‘all the time’. Over this period, they sponsored many relatives to migrate to Australia for a better life. They moved to Sydney in early 1970s as the children studied in universities around Sydney.
My father connected with granduncle in early 1970s by mail. My grandfather was an educated man (rare those days) and a well-respected figure in our hometown. The two families got on very well in the past. Since I was a little girl, my parents told me that I must study hard, I must go overseas, and I must seek a better life than the one that I was in. The idea was that, once I could make a break through, my parents could tag along too.
Reasonably good at school work, I attended one of the most selective high schools in Guangzhou city. My father diligently wrote to my granduncle each year on my academic achievements and suggested that one day I’d have the ability to have a go at a new life in Australia. So when I graduated from high school in 1980s, my granduncle sponsored me to come to Australia. My granduncle found a school for me, paid for the exuberance school fee and bought an air ticket for me – my parents couldn’t even afford the airfare. I lived with them until I was on my own two feet. With their help, I was able to secure a university degree, became a qualified accountant and later on an investment professional. Thanks to their generosity, I have a wonderful life in a beautiful country. I am grateful for their support, kindness & care.
So today I am cooking them a dish from our hometown, ZhongShan, a steamed glutinous rice cake that they loved when I was living with them.
Recipe is as follows:
- 100g rice flour
- 40g glutinous rice flour
- 40g tapioca flour
- 1 cup water
- 200g fresh Asian style white radish, finely chopped
- 2 Chinese sausages or 2 rashes of bacon, finely sliced
- 20g dried shrimps, soak in hot water for 5 minutes, drained (optional)
- pinch of salt
- green shallot, thinly sliced, to garnish
- dash of dark soy sauce
- dash of sesame oil
- Mix the rice flour, glutinous rice flour and tapioca flour with 1 cup water, mix well; add chopped radish, Chinese sausages, dried shrimps, pinch of salt; mix well; transfer to a shallow bowl
- Steam the mixture for 30 minutes or until it sets; leave it aside to cool before slicing into small pieces; top with dark soy sauce and sesame oil; garnish with sliced green shallot