Eight-treasure glutinous rice cake: a special dim sum in Taicang
Tao Genyuan, owner of a Shaxi town's cake store, shows the eight-treasure glutinous rice cake he makes. [Photo/WeChat account: taicangdaily]
There's only one cake store in Shaxi town of Taicang selling eight-treasure glutinous rice cakes.
Though the dim sum looks quite normal, and lacks flattering colors, it is really popular not only among local residents, but also guests from nearby cities.
How on earth can such a dim sum be so attractive?
According to legend, the empress dowager Cixi of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) once fell ill with a weak spleen and stomach.
Her imperial physician wrote out a special prescription for her of eight traditional Chinese medicines that could also serve as food.
In order to help the empress dowager eat the medicine, the imperial physician steamed the eight medicines into cakes after grinding them into powder.
After eating the cakes for few days, the empress dowager found her body restored and was so delighted that she named the cake the eight-treasure glutinous rice cake.
“Although my cakes are different from the royal ones in appearance, they share the same ingredients and besides, I add some new ones to cater to contemporary people,” Tao Genyuan, owner of the cake store said.
Tao just steamed common glutinous rice cakes before 2016, but after watching a television program about Chinese royal food, Tao thought, why shouldn't he try to make the eight-treasure glutinous rice cake.
He knew that ingredients would be critical, so he racked his mind to look for the best and finally bought dried orange peels from south China's Guangdong province, iron stick yams from Hunan province, Poria cocos from Anhui province, Gorgon fruits from Suzhou and four other ingredients.
After trying dozens of times, Tao mastered each ingredient's weight, the glutinous rice powder's water content and the necessary heat and succeeded in making the eight-treasure glutinous rice cake.
He also added black sesame, walnut kernels and dried dates to make the cake tastier. Although it has a high price of 14 yuan ($2.2) per kilogram the cake still attracts many buyers each day.