Yotam Ottolenghi's vegan recipe for celebration sticky rice cake (2024)

All food is a celebration of something, but some dishes are especially celebratory. What makes them so? For me, they have to have a built-in “ta-da!” factor, and anything that you need to flip over, inverting it from a pan and on to a platter, helps no end with that. Savoury dishes with the word “cake” in their name also tend to please, as do ones with layers. These are just some of the things that make a dish “celebratory” for me, and there will be more for others still. One thing is a must, though: it should be very hard to walk into a room holding a celebratory dish without emitting a little whoop.

Celebration sticky rice cake

May I present what might soon be the celebratory vegan centrepiece for your Christmas (or any other) table. It’s inspired by lo mai gai, a classic Chinese dim sum made with steamed glutinous rice. My go-to brand of sticky rice is Thai Taste, which needs only 30 minutes of soaking; if you use a different brand, check the instructions, because it might need an overnight soak in cold water or a three-hour soak in hot water.

Soak 30 min
Prep 5 min
Cook 1 hr 30 min

400g Thai sticky rice – I use the Thai Taste brand (see introduction)
200g ready-cooked and peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper

For the roast mushrooms
500g oyster mushrooms, roughly torn
250g chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped into 3cm pieces
90ml soy sauce
120ml olive oil
3 tbsp tomato paste
60ml maple syrup
4 garlic cloves
, peeled and crushed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cumin

For the pine nut salsa
5½ tbsp (20g) picked parsley leaves
20g chives, roughly chopped
6 spring onions, trimmed and julienned
60g pine nuts, well toasted
60ml olive oil
40ml lemon juice

Heat the oven to 240C (220C fan)/475F/gas 9. Put the rice in a large bowl of cold water and leave to soak for 30 minutes (or longer, depending on brand – see introduction).

Put all the roast mushroom ingredients in a high-sided, 30cm x 23cm baking tray, and season with a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a lot of black pepper – about 40 twists of the grinder. The size of the tray is important here, because the mushrooms need to sit snugly so the liquid does not evaporate. Mix well to combine, then roast for 15 minutes.

Remove the mushrooms from the oven and pour all the liquid from the tray into a small saucepan: this will be your gravy.

Give the mushrooms a good stir, then return them to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Stir in the chopped chestnuts and set aside.

Line the base of a 20cm cast-iron pan for which you have a lid with a circle of greaseproof paper. Grease the paper and the sides of the pan with oil, then spoon in the roast mushrooms and flatten them out to create an even layer.

Drain the rice, then mix with 350ml room-temperature water and a teaspoon and a quarter of salt, then put the rice on top of the mushrooms. Flatten the surface of the rice – it should be just covered by water – then use a chopstick or skewer to poke six holes in the rice all the way to the bottom of the pan, to let steam escape while it’s cooking.

Put the pan on a medium-high heat until the water begins to simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for 35 minutes. Remove from the heat and, without lifting the lid, leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix all the salsa ingredients in a small bowl with a third of a teaspoon of salt, and set aside.

Add two tablespoons of water to the gravy pan, place on a medium-high heat and cook gently for three minutes, whisking the mixture to incorporate everything, until heated through.

Once the rice has rested for 10 minutes, run a knife around the edge of the pan to release it from the sides. Place a large, lipped platter on top of the pan, then quickly flip the whole thing over to release the cake from the pan and on to the platter. Remove and discard the greaseproof paper.

Top the rice cake with half the pine nut salsa, then pour the warm gravy around the outside, like a moat. Serve hot with the remaining salsa alongside.

Yotam Ottolenghi's vegan recipe for celebration sticky rice cake (2024)
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