"This is a famous traditional banquet dessert. Usually it contains eight kinds of dried candied fruits that represent eight precious stones."
1 ounce lotus seeds
2 cups cold water
2 ounces Chinese red dates
2 cups glutinous rice
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons oil
1 red maraschino cherry, stemless
1 cup any candied fruits
1 cup red bean paste
1. Add lotus seeds to cold water in saucepan. Bring to boil. Simmer on low heat 20 minutes. Drain and cool. Split into halves. Set aside.
2. Put red dates in bowl on rack in pot or in steamer. Steam covered over boiling water 30 minutes. Set aside.
3. Put rice in pot with water level 3/4 inch above rice. Bring to boil. Simmer 20 minutes. Stir in sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Mix well. Set aside.
4. Grease medium-sized bowl heavily with oil. Place cherry in center. Arrange lotus seeds, red dates, and candied fruits in circles around bottom and up to edge of bowl, glazed side down.
5. Spread a layer of rice mixture over fruits carefully so as not to spoil the design. Spoon a layer of red bean paste over the rice. Cover with another layer of rice. Pack tight.
6. Place bowl on rack in pot or in steamer. Cover. Steam over boiling water 1 hour. Remove pudding carefully by running flexible spatula around edge. Put serving plate over bowl and invert bowl.
7. Serve pudding with Sweet Almond Sauce - Boil 3 tablespoons sugar in 1 cup water, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Stir in 1 teaspoon almond extract. Thicken with 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water.