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This Taiwanese sticky rice (you fan) pairs sweet glutinous rice with five-spice powder, white pepper, and a variety of savory add-ins for an authentic dish that’s packed with flavor!
Like many of the Taiwanese recipes on my blog, this sticky rice recipe comes from my mom. If you’ve never had sticky rice, or you fan, before, you must find yourself a Chinese restaurant and try it—or even better, make it yourself!
I love the fluffy, chewy texture of this rice, and the addition of fragrant five spice seasoning. This was one of my favorite dishes growing up and I can remember having it very often, if not every weekend. It’s so easy to make, too.
You can easily customize sticky rice with your own favorite add-ins, or head to your local Asian market and buy the authentic ingredients listed below. But whatever you do, don’t substitute the five spice powder and white pepper—that’s where the magic is!
What You’ll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Sweet rice – Also known as glutinous rice. This is what makes sticky rice sticky! You really can’t use another type of rice here.
- Spiced tofu – You’ll find this in Asian markets (it’s also known as dou fu gan), but if you don’t live near one, you can substitute the marinated tofu cutlets that they sell in the refrigerated section at most grocery stores.
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Fried onions – These can also be found in Asian markets, or you can make your own.
- Dried shrimp – You can purchase Taiwanese or Chinese dried shrimp at Asian markets or online; they add lots of flavor to this sticky rice.
- Preserved radishes – These can be bought on Amazon or in Asian markets, too. You may also find them labeled as preserved daikon.
- Pork tenderloin
- Low-sodium soy sauce
- Five spice powder – This spice blend is made with cinnamon, fennel, star anise, and cloves—the fifth ingredient is often Sichuan pepper, but not always!
- White pepper – This is so different from regular pepper! It has a much milder flavor, but it’s also more complex and nuanced.
How to Make Sticky Rice
You’ll need to plan for an overnight soak, so this isn’t the kind of recipe you can make on the fly. Other than that, making authentic Taiwanese sticky rice is easy. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
Soak the rice. Place the rice in a large airtight container. Pour in enough water that it comes up an inch or two above the rice, then cover and soak overnight.
Transfer the rice to a rice cooker. Use a slotted spoon or your hands to place the rice into a rice cooker, leaving the soaking liquid behind.
Cook the rice. Add 1/4 cup of water to the rice cooker. Turn it on, then halfway through the cooking time, stir the rice. Once the rice cooker says it is finished, let the rice sit for 10 minutes before opening the cooker. Add another 1/4 cup of water and cook again, until the water is absorbed.
Cook the other ingredients. While the rice cooks, sauté the tofu, shiitakes, fried onions, dried shrimp, radishes, and pork for a few minutes. Add a tablespoon of soy sauce, 1/2 tablespoon of five spice powder, and the white pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until fragrant.
Finish. Add the cooked sticky rice to the wok and stir to incorporate. Add the remaining soy sauce and five spice powder; adjust seasonings to taste. Cook for 5 minutes more, then serve.
Tips for Success
Here are my best tips for making sticky rice:
- No rice cooker? No problem! You can steam the sticky rice if you don’t have a rice cooker.
- Don’t add all the water at once. Resist the temptation to dump all the water into your slow cooker! Cooking sticky rice is a little like cooking risotto; it needs to absorb the water a little at a time, or you end up with a soupy consistency.
- Make it your own. This is one of those traditional dishes where everyone has their own favorite versions and ingredients. Swap the pork tenderloin for pork belly, make it vegetarian, add bonito flakes instead of shrimp, use oyster sauce in addition to soy sauce—feel free to experiment!
Pair sticky rice with other authentic Taiwanese dishes like:
- Scallion Pancakes (蔥油餅)
- Three Cup Chicken (三杯雞)
- Spicy Chinese Cucumber Salad
- Mantou 饅頭 (Chinese Steamed Buns)
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Storing leftover rice is tricky because it can harbor bacteria if it’s not cooled quickly. If you have leftovers, spread them on a sheet pan while still hot and refrigerate them. Once they’ve cooled, transfer the rice to an airtight container. Sticky rice will keep for 3 to 4 days and it can be reheated in the microwave.
Can I Freeze This Recipe?
Yes, if you’d like to freeze sticky rice, spread it on a parchment-lined sheet pan while still hot and place this in the freezer. Once frozen through, transfer to a freezer bag or airtight container. Freeze for up to 2 months and reheat from frozen.
- 2 cups (370 g) sweet rice
- ½ cup (118 ml) water
- 8 ounces (227 g) spiced tofu, diced
- 4 ounces (113 g) shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- ¼ cup (14 g) fried onions
- ¼ cup (59 g) dried shrimp
- ½ cup (58 g) diced preserved radishes
- ¾ pound (340 g) sliced pork tenderloin
- 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon five spice powder
- 2 teaspoon white pepper
- Soak your rice overnight. This will help reduce cooking time A LOT.
- When ready, put your rice in the rice cooker. Do this by hand. Don't dump it all in, you will get unnecessary water if you just pour it from the bowl.
- Add in 1/4 cup of water (yes, really). Turn on the rice cooker, halfway through cooking, open it and mix around the rice. Once the rice cooker says it's done, let it sit for 10 minutes before opening it. After 10 minutes, open it, mix the rice around, add another 1/4 cup of water and cook it until the water is absorbed. Alternatively, you can steam the sticky rice if you don't have a rice cooker.
- Meanwhile, while the rice is cooking, cook the filling. In a large wok, add in the tofu, mushrooms, fried onions, dried shrimp, radishes, and pork. Saute for a few minutes then add 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, 1/2 tbsp. of the five spice powder and the white pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
- Once rice is done, add that to the wok and start folding/stirring to incorporate everything. Add in the rest of the soy sauce and the five spice powder. If you think it needs more, add more. It's all to taste.
- This process should take about another 5 minutes to get everything incorporated and tasting just right. Serve hot.
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