This Chinese dessert is commonly eaten on Chinese New Year in Singapore. Known also as tiam kueh or sweet cake, it is often used as an offering to the Taoist Kitchen Gods during Chinese New Year. Nian Gao is very sweet and sticky when it comes right out of the steamer. It takes a few days for it to become firm before it can be fried with an egg and flour mixture to be eaten as a dessert or side dish. My aunt in Singapore gave me a brief idea of roughly how to make Nian Gao (年糕) and I came up with the portions and method. This is my easy Nian Gao (年糕) recipe that is oil free and vegan. It is so easy that it only takes a few minutes to get it going before putting it in the steamer.
1/2 pound glutinous rice flour or 1/2 packet of the 1 pound glutinous rice flour shown above
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 cups of boiling water
You will need paper coffee filters.
Line a small bowl with a coffee filter. The bowl should be slightly taller than the coffee filter and roughly the same size.
Mix all the ingredients well with a pair of bamboo chopsticks stirring in one direction.
Pour the batter into the coffee filter pouring a small blop each time with the help of the chopsticks.
Fill a metal tablespoon with 1/2 a tablespoon of cold water. Even out the surface of the Nian Gao with the water and the spoon.
Bring the water in the steamer to a boil, place Nian Gao in the steamer, cover and steam on high heat for 20 minutes, open lid to let the steam out and push any overflowing Nian Gao away from the edge of the bowl with a table knife, then cover and steam on medium heat for 20 minutes, open lid again to vent and push in any overflowing Nian Gao with the table knife. Steam for another 20 minutes at medium heat. Total steaming time is 1 hour.
Remove the Nian Gao from the steamer. Push the edges of the Nian Gao away from the bowl with the table knife until leveled with the coffee filter as it shrinks.
Allow Nian Gao to set in the bowl inside the fridge until it cools down.
The surface of the Nian Gao will keep sinking and leveling itself out.
When it has completely cooled down you can transfer the Nian Gao by flipping the top over a plate that is covered with non-stick aluminium foil then flipping back into a disposable plastic bowl. Cover with seran wrap. Stack the Nian Gao if you make more than one. It would help level them out more.
After 2 to 3 days outside the fridge or inside the fridge, the Nian Gao will start to get firmer.
You can now slice up the Nian Gao, coat each slice with beaten eggs that have been mixed with a little flour or just coat the Nian Gao with flour if you are vegan and pan fry them in a non-stick pan. Alternatively, you are welcome to eat the Nian Gao by scooping it out with a spoon when it is soft and warm right out of the steamer. It will just be sticky!
The meaning behind Nian Gao for Chinese New Year is 步步高升! It means wishing you a steady progress!
Happy Chinese New Year! 新年快乐!
Copyright 2013 From the Kitchen of Eloise