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.

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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.

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