YouFan might be my favorite rice dish of all time. This Taiwanese steamed sticky rice dish is made with glutinous rice mixed together with lots of savory seasonings and often dried ingredients such as dried mushrooms, dried shrimp or scallops, and Chinese dried sausage. While you can commonly find youfan on the streets of Taiwan, more elaborate versions are often reserved for special occasions such as Lunar New Year. YouFan can be time- and labor-intensive to prepare, but this streamlined version is easy to prepare at home using equipment you likely already have (you’re welcome). You’ll need either a rack that can fit inside a large pot or some tin foil to form into balls for a makeshift steaming “rack.”
I love using larger dried shiitake mushrooms here to make sure there’s lot of mushroom in every bite; if you can only find smaller ones, just use a few more to compensate. The umami of the mushrooms is complemented by seasonings that pack a punch, such as nutty black sesame oil, aromatic fried ginger, and complex-tasting aged soy sauce. The optional small dried shrimp (available at Asian grocery stores and online) adds even more intense umami flavor to the youfan, but you can omit it to make this dish vegan. This dish has a special place in my heart, and I hope it will make it onto your dining table sometime. —Jessie YuChen
See Jessie’s recipes for Jessie’s Special Steamed Whole Fish and Mochi-Stuffed Jujubes (Soft Hearts) to complete your Lunar New Year feast, and read about their favorite Lunar New Year traditions here.