I remember when I was young, every 1st and Fifteen, Festivals and Chinese New Year of the Chinese Calender, my mom would buy 'fa gao' from the market for praying to the gods and ancestors. In those time, ' fagao' was mainly made with rice flour and came in 2 colours - white and pink. They tasted a bit sour and hard, not very nice, thus we did not usually ate those meant as offerings.
One day, I chanced upon this link ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCp7O03IV_E) Vietnamese steamed rice cake. Literally translated, the Vietnamese name "Banh Bo", means cow cake. That resembles the "bai tang gao" (白糖糕) and "fagao"(发糕）。However, the Vietnamese rice cake is mainly made with coconut milk rather than the typical plain water. I also noticed very creative Vietnamese steamed rice cakes from some links, some are salty, others have meat fillings, while some also have cheese, chocolate, peanuts etc. They are attractive and beautiful due to the bright and and wide range of colours used.
Today, I gathered all ingredients for this recipe. It tastes better than the traditional steamed rice cakes because I used coconut milk. I like how fragrant and chewy the small cake is.
There is a subtle difference in using plain flour vs rice flour. I suggest you try out, it is worth the effort.
Recipe: Adapted from Helen's Recipe
500 g rice flour
1 bowl (1 00 g) tapioca flour
7 g instant yeast (1tsp + 3/4 tsp)
400 ml coconut milk
300 g sugar
450 ml warm water
1) In a saucepan, dissolve sugar and coconut milk on medium heat. One dissolved, let cool to room temperature.
2) Mix rice flour, tapioca flour and yeast in a mixing bowl. Add in warm water and knead well for 10 minutes (very soft dough).
3) Mix the batter with the mixture of sugar and coconut milk until everything has dissolved.
4) Let sit for at least 1 1/2 hours until batter rises and many bubbles appear.
5) Bring water in the steamer to boil.
6) Grease the moulds. Cover the lid to warm up the moulds for a few minutes.
7) Pour the batter into the cups till full. Steam for 10 - 15 minutes.
8) Remove the cakes from the moulds. These cakes should have a slight chewy and honeycomb like texture with distinctive "fermented" taste.