Saturday, 30 January 2016
Nian Gao / Steam New Year Cake
Nian Gao is a traditional CNY delicacy, made only during this time of year. Every CNY food have very auspicious meaning. Nian Gao means to 'climb higher every year'. Made with only 2 ingredients and steam for 8 - 10 hours from snow white to golden brown. It's used for ancestral prayers and prayers during CNY. My mak taught me how to make nian gao in my teens. I have to grind 5 kg of soaked glutinous rice with a old fashion rice grinder. Takes about 2 hours to grind 5 kg of rice. After grinding the rice, it's pour into a cloth bag and tied. Then the bag is put back on the lower grinding stone and using the top grinding stone to press the water out of the rice. It's left overnight on the stone grinder. The next morning take the slab of dry rice out from the bag and we can start to make our Nian Gao. The rice slab is place in a big pot and 5 kilos of sugar is added to the rice. Mix the mixture together with your hand and your heat from your hand will melt the sugar and the mixture will become watery. Then it's scoop into cellophane lined tins and steam over charcoal fire for 8 - 10 hours. It's not difficult to make but the steaming time is the most tedious. Nowadays i don't use a rice grinder and I use ready glutinous rice flour. More or less the same but same a lot of work for me. This is the modified recipe i used to make Nian Gao now.
400gms glutinous rice flour
250 - 300 ml water
400 gms white sugar
3 banana leaves ( soften in boiling water for5 mins)
Place glutinous flour in a mixing bowl and add enough water to mix into a dough.
Pour in the sugar and mix till mixture becomes watery.
Pour into lined moulds and placed in a steamer to steam till golden brown (8 - 10 hours)
Cover the steamer cover with a towel to prevent water from dripping onto the nian gaos.
Remove nian gaos from steamer and brush with a thin layer of oil.
After a few days you can keep the nian gaos in the fridge.
Note: I steam my Nian Gaos in an AMC stainless steel pot over the smallest fire for 6 hours. Cellophane paper can also be used to line the moulds.