Pork and Cabbage Rice Cake Soup (Nian Gao Tang)

This variation of nian gao tang (rice cake soup) is something my mom made all the time, she even made it for us when we were in Mexico because she found some really flavorful pork rib strips at the butcher shop. What’s essential here is high-quality pork ribs because that’s where all the flavor of the broth is going to come from. The cut we use is pork rib strips which are more commonly found at Asian grocers and butchers.

I used:

  • 1 lb pork rib strips, cut in-between the bone to get bite-sized pieces
  • 3 slices of ginger
  • 2 scallions, cut into 3-inch sections
  • 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
  • 1/4 large medium napa cabbage, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 servings of rice cakes ~8-10 oz
  • salt
  • white pepper
  • optional: 2 large dried shiitakes, rehydrated and sliced

To make:

  • Add pork ribs to a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes until you see impurities rise to the surface. Remove and rinse meat under running cold water, making sure you wash off the scum
  • Add ribs to a clean pot along with ginger, scallion, shaoxing wine, and 4.5 cups of water. Also add in shiitakes if using
  • Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat for 90 minutes, then add in the napa cabbage and cook for another 20 minutes until veggies soften
  • Add in the rice cakes and cook for another 2-3 minutes, season with salt (you’ll need a good amount!) and white pepper to taste. Serve the rice cake soup immediately
  • If you’d like, you can also make a little dipping sauce with soy sauce and sesame oil for the pork ribs!
  • Note: sometimes, if your pork isn’t really flavorful, the soup can still feel a little light even after the salt and white pepper, I’ve found that a little dash of MSG can save the day here.