This delicious and beautiful pudding is traditionally served during Chinese New Year. It is typically decorated with eight types of dried fruits and nuts (edible treasures) and is filled with sweet red bean paste. If the latter is not available, just skip it—this dessert will still be luscious. It is traditionally served with a topping of sugar syrup, but is not essential.
1 cup/200g black rice (forbidden rice)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the bowl
4 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
Mixed dried fruits and nuts of your choice
2 tablespoons sweet red bean paste (optional)
1. Wash and soak the black rice in enough water for 4 hours or overnight.
2. Drain and cook the rice with 4 cups/1L water until tender and all the water evaporates. Stir frequently towards the end of cooking.
3. Add the butter, followed by sugar to taste. Stir until the rice mixture is almost dry. Remove from the heat.
4. Grease a medium round-bottomed bowl of about 6-inch/15-cm diameter using the butter.
5. Decorate the base of the bowl with the mixed fruits and nuts, reserving some to decorate the sides if you wish.
6. Add a layer of the cooked rice to completely cover the mixed fruits and nuts placed at the bottom of the bowl. Press down the rice layer gently.
7. Add the red bean paste in the centre (if using) and decorate the sides with the reserved fruits and nuts. Cover with the remaining rice and press the rice down so that everything in the bowl is tightly packed.
8. Cover the bowl with an aluminium foil and steam for 40 minutes.
9. Invert the pudding onto a plate.
10. Serve hot, or refrigerate and serve cold.