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Nian Gao

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Chinese New Year is quickly approaching.

What are you making this year to celebrate Chinese New Year? And can you please share your recipe?

We are having our Chinese New Year family get together next week and each family has to bring a dish. I was asked to make Nian Gao. I have never made Nian Gao, but have found recipes online. Does anyone have any lessons learned that they would like to share?

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  1. My mom use to make the best nian gao. All our relatives really liked it. Her trick was to use a mix of sugar. She puts in brown sugar and white sugar to create a complexity in the taste. Nian Gao is pretty much like making mochi.

    Also, she made it with bamboo or (in Hawaii) ti leaves and I think using the leaves give the nian gao a bit of herbal taste. I've seen nian gao in tin pans and I always thought they weren't as good, plus not as pretty.

    Do you make your nian gao with a duck egg inside too? That's the best, get the saltiness with the sweet. I would have my mom make me one but I live by myself and can't really eat a whole nian gao by myself.

    1. If you are using pre-made nian gao, don't overcook them or otherwise get them too soft. They'll disintergrate if you stir-fry them with something else. Some packages tell you to soak them for a long time in cold water. If you don't have that much time, boil them for a few minutes until they are almost soft.

      I usually cook mine with black beans, julienned green onions, and some meat. I've also cooked them with carne asada just to see if it could be done (it was actually pretty good).

      1. Just curious.. are you making the savory kind (white slices) or the sweet kind (sometimes kind of orange or white in a big cake form)?

        1. Good question sweetie, are you making the sweet kind of nian gao that appears in stores around Chinese New Year time, jtlam?

          (this will not help at all)
          We made it once at home... turned out incredibly sticky and gooey. It was still tasty, but it could only be eaten in its original form. Usually we buy nian gao from a store and fry it up in some batter... definitely couldn't do that w/our homemade one. We haven't tried it again since... but it was yummy. ;) I'd love to be able to give you tips but alas, I cannot! Good luck! :)

          1. I love the baked kind of Nian Gao that has bits (or chunks if you like it sweeter) of red bean paste in it. It reminds me of a cakier, homier version of daifuku.

            1. For Chinese New Year, the sweet, steamed nian gao is usually made. This is the recipe that I'm going to try this year:
              http://wlteef.blogspot.com/2007/02/fo... (Courtesy of Florence)

              1. Thanks to everyone that has posted. Gosh, I didn't even know there were different kinds of Nian Gao. I'm getting really hungry reading everyone's post!

                I am going to try the recipe that Kovi shared. And if that doesn't work, I'll be going to the Chinese grocery store to find the instant one! Thanks everyone.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jtlam77

                  I've used the recipe below before, which comes out similar to what my grandmother's tastes like, except she doesn't really measure anything. The dates/sesame is optional for me.
                  http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

                  The best way to eat it is to cut into slices, dip it into a beaten egg, then pan fry it until golden brown delicious.