Chinese pumpkin glutinous rice cakes or “Pumpkin cha guo” are not so much crumbly like a cake but more like a soft chewy pancake. The glutinous rice flour in this recipe is responsible for their chewy texture.
The word “glutinous” in the name points to the fact that when cooked, it becomes sticky or glue like and not as may be mistaken because there is any gluten in it.
With only 3 ingredients plus a little oil for frying, they are really easy to make. Lets get started.
Peeled and deseeded pumpkin 700g
Glutinous rice flour 500g
Oil for frying
Optional white or black sesame seeds
1. Cut your pumpkin into medium sized chunks and steam for about 35 minutes till softened.
2. Allow the pumpkin to cool a little and mash it down with a fork or puree it with a hand held blender.
3. While the pumpkin is still warm, add the sugar and mix in.
4. Split the flour into 2-3 batches and mix in one at a time.
5. Using your hands, knead the mixture till all the ingredients are completely incorporated into an even textured dough. It should be slightly sticky.
6. Take pinches of dough and roll them into balls, set aside.
Optional: Dip or roll some or all of your pumpkin dough balls into sesame seeds.
7. Put your frying pan on a low heat and coat the bottom with some oil.
8. Using the part of your palm at the base of your thumb and the middle of the other palm, flatten the pumpkin dough balls into disks.
9. Place as many of the pumpkin glutinous rice cakes in the pan as can fit without actually touching. Fry on a gentle heat turning once or twice.
10. Best served warm but also not too shabby when cooled!
Notes and tips
As pumpkins can vary in sweetness and water content, you may find that the measurements stated above may need adjusting slightly to account for the natural variations.
My personal preference for sugar is “less sweet” so naturally this recipe reflects that. If you have a sweeter tooth you may want to roll out one piece in step six and fry that first to see how it tastes to you before rolling out the whole lot. You can kneed more sugar into the mixture if that is your preference.
It is important to pan fry these on a low to medium low heat so that the flour has a chance to cook through properly before the cakes burn on the outside. I find that a very slightly sticker mixture works better for this than a mixture on the dry side. Add a teaspoon of water if you find the taste of raw flour coming through.
These pumpkin glutinous rice cakes can also be filled with red bean paste or deep fried for a crispy outer coating.
Image credit: Anna Hui