eight treasures = rice pudding = ba bao fan

I really don’t think it’s fair to call this most yummy of desserts ‘rice pudding’, which I associate with nasty gooey white stuff, but that’s what it says on the can. In Chinese it’s called bā bǎo fàn (八宝饭), which literally translates to ‘eight treasures rice’ … but I think most direct translations sound weird. For instance, no one wants to eat ‘saliva chicken’ (I saw that as a menu option once). Instead I tend to use Chinese or Chinglish or a made-up translation that I prefer. I simply call this dish ‘ba bao fan’ because the relative translation is weird too. Because this dish ain’t gloopy. It ain’t pudding.


It’s sticky rice with red bean paste inside, and eight types of dried fruit/seeds/nuts on top. And it’s yummy. Although I’m mostly familiar with ba bao fan from the can. Food connoisseur I am not. But seriously, it sounds like a lot of effort to make, whereas with the canned version, you cut open the top, cut open the bottom, push the thing out onto a plate (or bowl), nuke it in the microwave for four minutes, and voila. Chinese grocery stores don’t always stock it, so when I find it I usually buy a few.