Shopping for Rice Cakes

Rice cakes
Helen Rosner

Delightfully chewy rice cakes are a noodlelike pantry staple throughout East Asia, where they bring heft and texture to all kinds of dishes. Traditionally made by pounding glutinous rice with water, most of the rice cakes you'll find in Asian supermarkets (either fresh in the refrigerated noodle section or dehydrated in the freezer aisle) are now made from rice flour. They come in a variety of shapes, from thick slabs and cylinders to tiny rounds.

1 Chinese nian gao are often sold as coin-size disks, ready to be stir-fried to make spicy vegetarian chao nian gao.

2 Sliced Korean dduk ($5 for a 5-lb. bag) lend substance to beefy broths with scallions and noodles.

3 Cylindrical dduk ($5 for a 5-lb. bag) appear in comforting savory dishes like ddukbokki, where they're simmered in a sweet and fiery red chile sauce.

4 Japanese rice cakes, or kirimochi ($6 for a 12-oz. package), are usually sold dehydrated or frozen in firm blocks that become wonderfully soft and sticky as they steam. We love them slipped into ozoni, a traditional New Year's soup, or grilled, then wrapped in nori for a smoky, savory snack.