Nian Gao – 年年高生
Nian Gao, the name of this cake symbolises 年年高生 – The word Nian “年” (year) and Gao “糕” (gao = cake) sounds like “高” (gao = tall/height); the pun is played to wish “May you achieve greater heights every year!”
Another play on the pun is the word Nian “年” (nian = year) sounds like another Chinese word “粘” (nian = sticky). Nian Gao is made from glutinous rice flour and sugar. It is a sticky chewy cake when fried. This sticky sweet cake is offered to the Kitchen God with the objective that his lips would be glued with the sticky snack thus he can’t badmouth the offerer’s family to the God of all Gods.
Traditionally, Nian Gao is served on the first day of Chinese New Year as breakfast with a brew of Longan Red Dates Tea.
Another way to eating the Nian Gao is to cut them into shoestrings (french fries) and wrap in Spring Roll Wrappers. Shallow fry (seam side down) till golden over low heat. This is more tricky as the wrappers brown fast and the cake may not yet soften. The trick to this is keep the temperature low. The wrappers will continue to brown when out of the hot oil.
300 grams Nian Gao (年糕).
2 Eggs, beaten (60g-70g size).
4 tablespoons Plain Flour, 3xsifted.
1 tablespoon Rice Flour.
1 tablespoon Icy Cold Water.
1 teaspoon Sugar (optional, coz nowadays the nian gao is not sweet like the good old days where health is not as important as taste – I used them here).
pinch of Salt, optional (I did not use it here, still tasted good).
½ teaspoon Baking Powder (optional, crispy texture if not using rice flour – I used this).
1 tablespoon Groundnut Oil, add more if needed during frying.
Slice the nian gao into thin squares.
In a bowl, whisk eggs, flour, water, sugar and salt until the batter is of a semi-thick and smooth consistency.
Heat non-stick pan with oil.
Dip nian gao slices in egg batter and pan-fry in batches (add more oil if needed), until lightly browned on both sides.
Serve them hot coz when they’re cold they get hard again. Warm them in toaster oven if prepared in advanced.
I wish YOU “All The Best” in your future undertakings – “年年高生!”
Update: A few hours after cooking, eating about 6 pieces of the Fried Nian Gao and posting this recipe, someone posted the picture below on my facebook! Why???