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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sticky Rice Cake - Nian Gao for Chinese New Year





From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...There are many customs and traditions associated with Chinese New Year. One of the most pervasive has led to an exercise that takes place days before the celebration actually begins. It is believed the Kitchen God returns to heaven a week before the New Year to report on a family's behavior during the year that is ending. An unfavorable report means that the family will have bad luck in the year to come. In order to prevent that from happening the tradition of making sticky cake took hold. The belief that the Kitchen God could not issue a bad report if his mouth was full became pervasive. While a bit softer, the cake has the same chewy properties as taffy. It is, in a word, sticky. It's usually made with glutinous rice flour, a candy called peen tong and dried fruit. The traditional cake is always steamed and, if it's made with peen tong, it is always a rich caramel in color. However, as you move across China, you'll find there are regional differences in how the cake is made. If granulated sugar is used in place of peen tong, the cake will have a creamy hue. The cake is not easy to make, but it can be bought for next to pennies. Ergo, most sticky rice cakes, including mine, are purchased rather than made. A link to more information about the Kitchen God and a classical recipe for the steamed cake be found here. I'm including a much easier version of the recipe for you to try, should you wish to do so. I want to wish all of you who are celebrating, an auspicious New Year that will be rich in family, friends and food.

Baked Sticky Cake (Nian Gao)...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite, courtesy of Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Ingredients:
16 oz. Mochiko sweet rice flour
One stick of butter or 3/4 cup of vegetable oil
3 eggs
2-1/2 cups milk
1 to 1-3/4 cup sugar--depending on if you like it sweeter
1 tablespoon baking soda
One can of red azuki beans

Directions:
Mix everything but the beans with an electric mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes. Beat for 2 more minutes at high speed. Sprinkle Mochiko flour over a 9"x 13" baking dish that has been oiled or sprayed with Pam. Spread half of the batter on the bottom of the baking pan. Spread the red azuki beans (you can mix some batter into the beans if they are too thick to spread). Spread the other half of the batter over the red azuki beans. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a chopstick (this is Chinese New Year, Cake after all) if it comes out clean, it is done. This is best served warm.

You might also enjoy:

Long Life Noodles for Chinese New Year

Open Mouths Laughing for Chinese New Year
Pearl Balls - Louis Chinese Porcupines

28 comments:

Vanillastrawberryspringfields said...

Ok this is so so so different.....never seen this before but very inviting MAry Sweetie....

Oh yeah....LOVE IS IN THE AIR....SO IS ROMANCE N WISHING YA ALL LOADS N LOADS OF IT @ 365

zurin said...

This is the first tiem ive seen a creamy one....most are caramel here...but creamy is so lovely !! happy valentine's!!

ButterYum said...

Haha... I thought you must have outdone yourself this time. Especially since you're nursing your injury.

Happy Chinese New Year, and Happy Valentine's Day!

:)
ButterYum

theUngourmet said...

This cake is very pretty and I can imagine how delicious it must be.

Hope you have a lovely Valentine's day!

Selba said...

I'm eating nian gao right now! :)

This is interesting. Never seen a "bright" nian gao, our nian gao is always dark brown.

Elisa, Croatia said...

Just wanted to stop by and say un feliz San Valentin!

QIS said...

the cake is very pretty.
Happy Chinese New Year and have a sweet Valentine's Day!

Allie and Pattie said...

Happy Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day Mary! Fascinating post-this may be a project!
xoxo Pattie

Luciana said...

Hi Maria...this sticky rice cake is wonderful...you are very good...Happy Valentine's Day...a kiss Luciana

George Gaston said...

Mary, I have never tried to make sticky rice, but your method & recipe is calling for me to try.

Wishing you a very happy Valentine's Day!

Janice said...

Fascinating, I hadn't heard about the kitchen god before. Thanks for a very interesting post -not that I'm going to make that sticky cake!

taste traveller said...

Happy Lunar New Year! I haven't heard of these cakes before but they certainly look lovely. All the best for the year of the Tiger!

Ed Schenk said...

The recipe looks easy enough. I just need to get the flour.

Ed Schenk said...

The recipe looks easy enough. I just need to get the flour.

Joanne said...

Happy new year and valentine's day!

I love Chinese pastries and cakes, especially those that contain red bean paste. There is something about the flavor of them...the earthy sweetness...that I just love. I'm definitely going to have to try this!

Velva said...

Mary, this was a great post! I enjoyed reading about the Kitchen God...Awesome.

A Year on the Grill said...

I love these little educational posts... and a very happy New Year to you. Hope it is all you wish for, and it is always a treat when you are able to come visit and drop a note to us.

Feel better, and no whisking with that bad shoulder

lostpastremembered said...

Beautiful execution on that desert... positvely perfect and I love the characters!

Alessandra said...

I love these rice cakes! Happy Chinese New Year to all!

Pink Panda said...

I love nian gao. I've never made it before, but this seems easy enough. Bookmarked :D. It's sad that I don't have any to eat and it's New Year's Day.

Karen said...

We have to be careful of those Kitchen Gods ;)

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Hmm. A lot of bad things might not happen if our mouths were full ...

Joy said...

O dear! I didn't make sticky cake! Fingers crossed my Kitchen God gives a good report!

suesueb said...

As always your posts are both fun and inspiring! P.S. I just spent time reading the posts from A Tea Party for My Mother. It's really beautiful. Thank you for introducing it to me!

Katy ~ said...

What a fabulous tradition; I can see many occasions where this would be a useful treat, hahahahah LOVE this.

Claudia said...

Have never seen the flour before. Maybe in an Asian supermarket? This is so very pretty - it just entices me. Happy New year!

Mary said...

Claudia most Asian grocers will have the flour. It can also be ordered online.

My Little Space said...

'xin nien kuai le' to you too, Mary! Oh wow, you did well! Your 'nian gao' looks beauiful.

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