If you ask an American or European about rice cakes, they’ll probably think of the hard, dry round discs made of puffed rice that are sold in health-food shops. The rice cakes eaten by many East Asians are entirely different - they’re made from pounded glutinous rice, are very chewy, and come in different shapes and sizes. This recipe calls for Asian rice cakes, preferably the long, flat ones.
Soak the rice cakes in warm water for about 30 minutes; if they're stuck together, pull them apart. Drain them in a colander just before cooking the dish.
Cut the pork belly into thin strips, put them in a bowl and add 10ml (2tsp) of soy sauce, the rice wine, sugar, white pepper, cornstarch, a quarter of a teaspoon of salt and 10ml (2tsp) of cooking oil. Combine thoroughly, then leave to marinate for about 15 minutes.
Remove the shells and heads from the shrimp (they can be used to make stock). Cut a slit down the back of the shrimp and pull out the vein. Cut the shrimp in half and pat the pieces dry with paper towels. Add ¼tsp of salt, mix thoroughly and refrigerate until needed.
Cut the onion in half then thinly slice it. Slice the garlic, and cut the cabbage into one-bite pieces. Cut the spring onions into 5mm (3/16in) pieces.
Place a wok over a high flame. When it is hot, add about 10ml (2tsp) of cooking oil and the ginger and stir-fry for about 15 seconds. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is wilted. Transfer the ingredients to a bowl.
Place the wok (no need to wash it) back over a high flame and add about 10ml (2tsp) of oil. When the oil is hot, add the cabbage and a sprinkling of salt. Stir-fry until the cabbage is wilted, then put it into the bowl with the onion and garlic.
Heat 15ml (1tbsp) of cooking oil in the wok (again, no need to wash it), add the pork and stir-fry until it loses its pink colour. Stir in the rice cakes, 15ml (1tbsp) of soy sauce and about 60ml (¼ cup) of hot water. Mix briefly, then cover the wok with the lid and simmer over a medium flame until the rice cakes are almost tender. If they seem too dry, add a little more water. Put the shrimp into the wok along with the ginger, onion, garlic and cabbage. Stir to combine, then mix in chilli paste to taste and a little salt, if necessary. Simmer, stirring often, until the shrimp and rice cakes are cooked. Stir in the sesame oil and the spring onion, then serve.