It is auspicious for Chinese to eat nian gao/sticky rice cake during Chinese New Year as 年糕 symbolizes "Nian Nian Gao Sheng" 年年高升 which is wishing you to have a higher position in your job and also to increase your prosperity year after year. Sticky rice also means family unity and togetherness. So, it is good luck to eat nian gao.
After attempting a steamed nian gao last year that was kinda hard. I wanted to create a recipe that is easier to do and softer. I saw a video on YouTube and see how the traditional nian gao was made and it took 12 hours. The long hours were needed to caramelized the white sugar to make the nian gao. I don't want to spend 12 hours in my kitchen and keep adding water to my steamer. So, this recipe was created. I used the American brown sugar to cut out the first step in my previous recipe, as it dissolved easily in hot water. All you need is a bowl and a whisk and a weight machine, then just mix all three ingredients in the same bowl and prepare to steam. This recipe is especially shared by me to overseas moms who want to pass down the Chinese New Year tradition to your kids and want short-cut!
As you can see, I turned it over to cool on my wire rack. You definitely learned from your mistake! Next time I would turn it over and cool on a flat surface so that it would be smooth. I also decorated the middle with a half red date (I have no intention of eating the red date so I didn't bother to cook it, if you wish to eat it, you will have to place the red date in when it was half cooked, about 30-40 minutes into the steaming). As I didn't lined my bowl with banana leaves or parchment paper (I just sprayed it with oil), I was afraid that if I left it in the bowl to cool, it might harden and stick to the bowl. So, I turned it out to cool when it was out of the steamer. You can also choose to line your bowl with parchment paper at the bottom and just oil the sides of the bowl.
Verdict: I am very happy with this as the nian gao was really soft on the first day. My girls and I tried some on the 2nd day and it was still soft and sticky! The above nian gao had been harden for three days at room temperature and as you can see, it was no longer soft and sticky (This is the time for pan-frying). Or you can just heat it up in the microwave for 20-25 seconds (900 watts) or 15 seconds (1100 watts), and it would turn right back to soft and sticky! It might not be as fragrant as the caramelized sugar version that was steamed for 12 hours but I am happy with this super easy version. The fragrant of this came from the American brown sugar that you used. I will stick to this recipe from now on, all of you are welcome to try this and feedback to me! Go, go, go make!
With that said, I am sharing this easy nian gao with Aspiring Bakers #15: Auspicious Dishes for CNY hosted by Wen's Delight. Go check out the roundup on Feb 1st. :-)
- 400g glutinous rice flour
- 300g brown sugar, the American kind (light or dark, I used light here)
- 400ml water
- Red date/jujube for decoration (wash and cut into half)
1. Measure the brown sugar in a bowl. Add 200ml hot water, whisk until sugar dissolved. Add 200ml water, whisk well.
2. Add in glutinous rice flour. Slowly whisk until a smooth batter formed.
3. Grease your bowls or ramekins or any container you desired. Pour the batter in.
4. Steam in high heat for 1 hour or less. Test with a toothpick to make sure. 40 minutes through steaming, decorate the middle with a half red date/jujube. Once out of the steamer, take it out and cool on a plate. Once cooled, keep in air-tight container or wrap it with cling wrap and refrigerate. If you want to eat it right away, you can keep it at room temperature for few days.