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Name this Chinese bakery item?

tatamagouche Feb 1, 2011 05:32 PM

Was told it was a New Year specialty, but they couldn't translate what it was. I thought it would be dense and rich, but it's gelatin-y and almost bland; I'll be damned if I can tell what it's flavored with. Anyone?

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  1. ipsedixit RE: tatamagouche Feb 1, 2011 05:42 PM

    That's nian gao.

    Read about it at wiki. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nian_gao

    Sometimes steamed, pan-fried, or stir-fried.

    I prefer mine in the garbage can ... thank you very much.

    Happy New Year !

    25 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit
      Sarah RE: ipsedixit Feb 1, 2011 06:44 PM

      Agree with the garbage can method -- it's the worst -- must be an acquired taste (for sure I never did) -- Gung Hay Fot Choy!

      1. re: ipsedixit
        gnomatic RE: ipsedixit Feb 1, 2011 07:59 PM

        Agree with ipsedixit, not a fan of the Cantonese nian gao, much to the dismay of my very Cantonese family...

        However, I do love Shanghai nian gao, especially in broth. I need to make some this weekend.

        1. re: ipsedixit
          PeterL RE: ipsedixit Feb 1, 2011 09:59 PM

          Good, more for the rest of us. Yeah acquired taste, whatever. But when you grew up with it and it evokes good times, family, holidays, and red envelops, it's all good.

          1. re: PeterL
            Melanie Wong RE: PeterL Feb 1, 2011 10:39 PM

            If all I'd ever eaten was a supermarket version, then I'd agree with the posters above. But we make our own, both steamed and baked versions, and even our non-Chinese friends enjoy them when we share the largesse. While I liked nian gao ultra fresh right out of the steamer for the soft chewiness, my favorite is after its staled for a day or two and then we pan-fry to make the slices crispy and carmelized on the outside and soft-centered.

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              gnomatic RE: Melanie Wong Feb 2, 2011 08:09 AM

              Nope, my mom made it herself (steam version). Her friends invite her over to make it for them. Everybody who likes the stuff says mom's is very good. I did grow up with it, I just never acquired the taste for it....which means more for my brother.

              1. re: Melanie Wong
                ipsedixit RE: Melanie Wong Feb 2, 2011 08:18 AM

                We made our own as well (both at home and at our old restaurant).

                I still never found it all that appetizing -- be it fresh, day-old, or just old.

                As an aside, did you guys make the sweet or savory (i.e. not sweet) kind?

                Now, if we were talking about another Chinese New Year's pastry, the "fa gao" (or (发糕), then I would be all hands, ears, feet with joy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fa_gao

                1. re: ipsedixit
                  tatamagouche RE: ipsedixit Feb 2, 2011 09:44 AM

                  As long as I'm at it, what about this? Since it's cut from what I assume is a cylinder, would it still be considered a type of bao? What would I do without you, ipse? :)

                  1. re: tatamagouche
                    ipsedixit RE: tatamagouche Feb 2, 2011 02:17 PM

                    I'm having a hard time making that out.

                    What's the filling? Is it savory or sweet?

                    And what's the exterior like -- flaky or doughy (like a bao)?

                    1. re: ipsedixit
                      tatamagouche RE: ipsedixit Feb 2, 2011 05:32 PM

                      Fluffy steamed bao dough, stuffed with sticky rice/barbecued pork.

                      1. re: tatamagouche
                        ipsedixit RE: tatamagouche Feb 2, 2011 05:52 PM

                        Yes, most likely a type of baozi found in Shanghai, probably a variation of 生肉包 (shen rou bao) or 大包 (da bao).

                        Sorry, that's about as definitive as I can get. Hope that helps.

                        1. re: ipsedixit
                          tatamagouche RE: ipsedixit Feb 3, 2011 05:05 AM

                          It does! Thanks!

                    2. re: tatamagouche
                      SomeRandomIdiot RE: tatamagouche Feb 7, 2011 07:24 PM

                      that actually looks more like a cantonese sticky rice roll than a da bao or a shen rou bao to me.

                      1. re: SomeRandomIdiot
                        tatamagouche RE: SomeRandomIdiot Feb 8, 2011 05:29 AM

                        That's what they called it, but I don't know what the translation is...?

                        You know that your username makes anything you say pretty funny. :)

                        1. re: tatamagouche
                          SomeRandomIdiot RE: tatamagouche Feb 8, 2011 09:25 AM

                          found the sticky rice part which is (lor mai 糯米) but im not getting google to give me the cantonese word for roll, its not bao. somebody with a better command of chinese characters is gonna have to jump in here.

                          well i say random things and im an idiot so...

                          1. re: SomeRandomIdiot
                            TT2 RE: SomeRandomIdiot Feb 8, 2011 10:16 AM

                            It's guen. 卷

                            1. re: TT2
                              Chemicalkinetics RE: TT2 Feb 8, 2011 10:21 AM


                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                SomeRandomIdiot RE: Chemicalkinetics Feb 8, 2011 12:03 PM

                                Ahhh guen. I tried goon gon guan. i took two years of college chinese (Mandarin) and learning pinyin somehow screwed up my ability to anglicize cantonese phrases and I'm a cantonese speaker. It's strange because I generally have no problems coming up with the pinyin for phrases in Mandarin even though my spoken Mandarin is horrid.

                                1. re: SomeRandomIdiot
                                  TT2 RE: SomeRandomIdiot Feb 8, 2011 12:26 PM

                                  I used AltaVista Babelfish and typed in spring roll to get the chinese character for roll. If you just type in roll, it gives you the verb. I took Mandarin in college and the proctor told me I have a Cantonese accent when I speak Mandarin. LOL

                  2. re: Melanie Wong
                    pinkprimp RE: Melanie Wong Feb 2, 2011 12:38 PM

                    i love it pan fried too! sometimes i even dip it in egg first.

                    i tried baked nian gao for the first time ever this year and i really liked the crispy-chewy crust that comes from the baking.

                2. re: ipsedixit
                  chowser RE: ipsedixit Feb 2, 2011 04:31 AM

                  I like it battered and deep fried. My mom would sometimes put in sweet potato, too. I've only had home made, though, and can't compare to supermarket versions but always thought it was great, not an acquired taste.

                  1. re: ipsedixit
                    EWSflash RE: ipsedixit Feb 2, 2011 05:18 PM

                    tatamagouche's photo didn't seem to go at all with the wikipedia definition as I interpreted it and what I've pictured, so I need to ask- is it the big extruded rice flour dough bodies I find at the nearby Korean grocery? Soemtimes I see them cut at an angle. Tata's photo didn't look like the explanation and I've wanted to know about the extruded rice flour dough I can't help buying and have no idea how to successfully cook with. Don't mean to threadjack.

                    1. re: EWSflash
                      Chemicalkinetics RE: EWSflash Feb 2, 2011 05:33 PM

                      That is a different kind of rice cake. You are probably talking about the savory ones like these:



                      The one mentioned here is the sweet one more like a dessert.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        tatamagouche RE: Chemicalkinetics Feb 2, 2011 05:54 PM

                        My favorite savory rice cake is actually rice stick—Korean ddeokbokki. Obsessed with those.


                        1. re: tatamagouche
                          Chemicalkinetics RE: tatamagouche Feb 2, 2011 06:01 PM

                          :P Can you cook me some? I want.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            tatamagouche RE: Chemicalkinetics Feb 3, 2011 05:06 AM

                            I need to learn to cook them because I can't find them anywhere in Denver, that's for sure!

                  2. y
                    yfunk3 RE: tatamagouche Feb 2, 2011 04:48 AM

                    Mmm...nian gao, sliced, battered and pan-fried. Cold or hot, its greasy goodness tastes much better with a red envelope in your hand and your family around. :o)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: yfunk3
                      tatamagouche RE: yfunk3 Feb 2, 2011 05:02 AM

                      Thanks all! Yeah, since brown sugar gives it its color, I wish it tasted more like...brown sugar. But I like Melanie's idea of pan-frying the remainder (which is to say practically the whole thing).

                    2. K K RE: tatamagouche Feb 2, 2011 10:09 AM

                      Yeah I too dislike this very much. Never even got into Shanghainese style stir fried nian gao, but the older generation from my mother's side of the family dug it for some reason.

                      Would rather have the daikon cake, non dim sum and non supermarket version. Gotta have preserved Chinese sausage and some conpoy in it, and I need to be able to taste the daikon.


                      1. Chemicalkinetics RE: tatamagouche Feb 2, 2011 04:55 PM

                        Known as "Nian Gao" Literally mean "Year-Cake" That said there are the savory version and sweet version. The version you have is the sweet version. In fact, it is the "Yellow Sugar Year Cake". There is the Red Bean version. There is the Coconut version. I like the Coconut version the most. I love these stuffs. You can pan fried it. You can dip it in beaten egg and then fried it. You can steam it.

                        Anyway, it is subjective, but I enjoy it.

                        1. t
                          TT2 RE: tatamagouche Feb 7, 2011 10:35 AM

                          Lian gao. Can't wait to go home and have some today.

                          1. a
                            AngelSanctuary RE: tatamagouche Feb 7, 2011 06:37 PM

                            Oh my goodness I didn't realize how many people hated this! I love it! I like to cut it in thin .5 cm slices, dip it in egg and then pan fry them!!

                            My favorite thing about the new years.

                            1. b
                              buttermarblepopcorn RE: tatamagouche Feb 7, 2011 10:22 PM

                              I guess I feel like chiming in and mentioning that I, too, have never liked nian gao. I mean, I rather actively dislike it. The only thing that prevents me from publicly stating "I hate nian gao" is respect for my mother, who seems to LOVE IT and prepares enormous amounts of it for the family every Chinese New Year. She puts time and energy and love into it, but...UGH.

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