Nian Gao – 年年高升

Nian Gao - 年年高生

Nian Gao, the name of this cake symbolises 年年高升 – 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.

Nian Gao 年年高生©BondingToolThis Nian Gao is about 500g but the recipe batter is for 300g Nian Gao (double up the recipe if you have a bigger cake). I fried the rest with Spring Roll Wrappers.

Nian Gao 年年高生1©BondingToolWhisk all the batter ingredients in a small bowl. Chill in the fridge while you cut the Nian Gao.

Nian Gao 年年高生2©BondingToolSlice Nian Gao to the thickness of your desire. Thinner cooks faster. The idea is to warm the Nian Gao with enough heat so they become a chewy sticky sweet snack.

Nian Gao 年年高生4©BondingToolHeat some Groundnut Oil in a non stick pan and dunk the sliced Nian Gao into the batter.

Nian Gao 年年高生5©BondingToolOver medium low heat, pan-fry the Nian Gao for about 30 seconds and turn over.

Nian Gao 年年高生6©BondingToolCook till golden in colour and when pressed gently with the tongs, the centre is soft. This is the most common method of cooking this dish.

Nian Gao 年年高生7©BondingToolAnother 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.

Nian Gao 年年高生8©BondingToolCooked Nian Gao has a soft chewy centre and “eggy” crisp pancake coating.

Nian Gao 年年高生9©BondingToolThe ones wrapped in Spring Roll Wrappers are sweeter than the usual style of cooking even though I’ve added a teaspoon of sugar to the batter… I wonder why?

Nian Gao 年年高生10©BondingTool

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 – “年年高升!”

Happy cooking 🙂

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???

OMG Calories

*Variation: Steam the Nian Gao till soft and roll into some crushed peanuts or dessicated coconut.

7 Responses to “Nian Gao – 年年高升”
  1. drunk ninja says:

    luckily i’m not a big fan of nian gao or taro cake but i love turnip cake (lor ba goe) and waterchestnut cake.

  2. bondingtool says:

    I love all the cakes you mentioned above but seldom can we get good water chestnut cake. I had dim sum this afternoon for lunch 🙂

  3. Wonderful post/.l would like to tell you that our daughter’s in law Grandmother is from Japan and she cooks Japanese food..Warm wishes.jalal

    • bondingtool says:

      Japanese food is one of our family’s favourite cuisine. I think each of us easily eat about 120 (could be way much more) bowls of ramen a year, lol… 🙂

  4. Thank you so much for liking my recent post ( Vows../ Renewal ) jalal

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