When cookbook author Frankie Gaw made Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese recipe for the first time, he discovered pure bliss—an expression of beef and tomato completely transformed after a “lazy simmer,” as she liked to say. Tasting Hazan’s slow-cooked dish also reminded Gaw of his Taiwanese grandma’s fragrant simmered pork sauces poured over fresh noodles or rice. Inspired by Hazan and his grandmother, this rice cake Bolognese recipe highlights the commonalities between different cultures and is a love letter to both Italian and Taiwanese tradition. Look for packaged rice cakes in the refrigerated section of your local Asian grocery store. Gaw prefers to use medium-lean ground beef and pork—sometimes labeled 80/20 percent—for this dish, but any good-quality ground meat will work.
Adapted from First Generation: Recipes from My Taiwanese-American Home by Frankie Gaw. Photography by Franklin Gaw copyright 2022. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
Featured in: “Fried Chicken Gua Bao and Rice Cake Bolognese Star in Frankie Gaw's Standout Debut Cookbook,” by Megan Zhang.
- 24 oz. oval-shaped packaged rice cakes (not dried)
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 2 scallions, green and white parts, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. finely chopped ginger
- ½ lb. ground beef
- ½ lb. ground pork
- 1 cup whole milk
- ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup white wine
- One 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes with juice
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Finely grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Torn basil leaves (optional)