Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wah Guay, or Taiwanese Rice Cake with Meat Sauce

Wah guay

It's been a while since I've posted any recipes from my mom, and I just received a random request for this recipe, so I'd like to introduce you to wah guay, of Taiwanese rice cake with meat sauce. The name of the dish is Taiwanese, so I don't even know how to correctly pronounce it, much less romanize the spelling. My mom makes this dish a lot for pot lucks, and it's one of her specialties; I believe she even made up the recipe herself. All the flavoring comes from the meat sauce which is really pretty salty plus a little sweetness, heat, and umami. You need all of the saltiness because the rice cake is just steam-baked rice flour and water. That's it. But if you make it right, it should come out with a thick, custardy texture that jiggles like Jell-o.

Make sure that you use a soy sauce paste for the topping and not regular soy sauce. Soy sauce paste is more viscous and also slightly sweeter than the normal stuff. We used it a lot growing up in dipping sauces for things like boiled dumplings and hot pot because the water that inherently deposits with each dip wouldn't dilute the soy sauce paste as much as it would with normal soy sauce. And if you can find the sweet chili paste, definitely try that. It's barely spicy, but does cut through the saltiness of the meat sauce just enough. In a pinch, I guess a little sriracha sauce could do.

Wah Guay
makes 24 servings

1 (16 oz.) bag of rice flour (not the glutinous kind)
1 lb. ground pork
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons fried shallots
4 tablespoons rice wine
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoons five spice powder
6 tablespoons soy sauce
Soy sauce paste or chili soy sauce paste
Sweet chili paste (optional)
Cilantro (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 °F and lightly grease a 9" x 13" casserole dish.

Add 9 cups boiling water

In a large mixing bowl, mix the rice flour with 2 cups of water using a spatula. Continue stirring and add 9 cups boiling water in a continuous stream. Once fully incorporated, transfer to the casserole dish, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and bake for 45 minutes.

In a medium-sized pot, heat oil on high until hot. Add the shallots and fry for 20 seconds. Add the pork, rice wine, sugar, five spice powder, and soy sauce and continue to cook until meat is no longer pink, breaking the pork into smaller pieces. Cover, lower the heat, and let simmer for 2 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let sit covered.

Wah guay

Once the rice cake is done, top with the meat sauce. Drizzle with soy sauce paste and sweet chili paste and top with cilantro, if desired.

I am not a big fan of cilantro, so my mom usually just garnishes three-quarters of the dish with the cilantro, leaving an unblemished quarter for me. Isn't my mommy the best?

One note I should make, I tried making this once in grad school in a toaster oven and the rice cake never really "set". And even my mom has said that it hasn't set correctly for her on a few occasions. Neither of us could figure it out; I'm guessing it has to do with having the perfect ratio of water to rice flour and the ideal conditions for steaming and baking in the oven.

One year ago:  Beef Noodle (Soup) and Lu Dan


  1. Fun fun fun! I had been planning on making this for my Taiwanese Street Foods post that I did awhile ago, but didn't have time to make it! I've never tried baking it. My mom always steamed them in individual rice bowls in a huge steamer. Of course I can't do that at home, since I don't have one of those ginormous bamboo steamers. This oven idea looks cool. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Nic!, I love it when my mom and gramda makes this dish. The Taiwanese roughly translates to "bowl cake"...I'm sure we could come up with a more marketable name ;)

  3. Thank you so much for posting the recipe!!! I really enjoyed this when I was in Kaohsiung but I could never find information on how to make it. It was really nice for breakfast during the winter in Taiwan, :) Can't wait to give it a try!

  4. looks sooo tasty!! of course i'm writing this while having not yet eaten dinner...

  5. i've never heard of this before, but it looks great

  6. my mom needs to learn more recipes from your mom!

  7. Well, my attempts to make this ended up slightly failed but still delicious.

    I got to the butcher shop twenty minutes after closing and.. they were out of pork.. so ground turkey it was. It tasted just fine though.

    And then my rice cake failed to set (I think it's actually my rice flour - last time I made my fave turkish pudding with it, it also failed). So after giving it an extra twenty minutes crossing my fingers, I switched to fusion, and served it over udon noodles to much success.

    The rice goo is going to be my breakfast with a little maple syrup ;)

    Sam (The Second Lunch)

  8. Thank you SO much for posting this recipe - my mom used to make this, but by grinding rice into flour with a blender (a task that takes about 2 hours on its own), and this seems like a great way to make it...well, manageable. My family is from Taiwan as well, and your blog has been so great to follow. I know this is an old post, but I just searched for the dish online, and I think you might be the only person with a recipe. Thanks again!

  9. Just put the rice cake in the oven. It was really watery and doesn't look like the photo, I hope that 9 cups of water bit is correct!

  10. Wow, it came out great. My pan was so big though, I will buy a little extra pork next time to cover the surface area better. I just love this recipe, and this is great for people who are GF, as long as they use GF soy sauces, etc. I will def make again, especially for a pot luck, it makes a ton. Thank you for the recipe, I can't seem to find anything like it anywhere else.

  11. I've been trying to figure out how to make wahguay since I'm living in Taiwan :D its one of my favourite traditional foods, so as soon as I'll have the time, I'll try to make it too! Thank you so much for the recepie! Your mum must be awesome :D