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Feb 7, 2011 11:23 PM

Nian gao question

I'm trying to make my own nian gao for the first time. My first attempt using this recipe ( ) failed miserably. I measured everything quite precisely, and the recipe says it should be done in 2 hours. I steamed it in a 蒸籠 for 9 hours already, must have added water a hundred times, and only the very edges have turned brown. I took a chunk out of the center and it's uncooked inside, tastes like uncooked dough and not even that sweet. My cake pan is filled only 2 cm high with batter. I did substitute sugar with equal weight of 片糖 though.

I see some recipes say to steam for 45 minutes and other different recipes (with different ingredient proportions) say to steam for 5 hours. Both seem to (according to the pictures) yield a brown result and both do not ask for pre-caramelising the sugar.

What accounts for such a vast difference in steaming time between these recipes? What exactly makes the 45 minute recipes get done so quickly?

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  1. Bumping this thread because I, too, have a nian gao question. Do I need to soak or parboil them before stir-frying? I bought some this weekend (fresh, not frozen), and I just noticed that there are no cooking instructions on the bag. I apologize if this is a dumb question, but various recipes I've looked at give conflicting advice and I don't want to ruin dinner.

    7 Replies
    1. re: gort

      Beat one raw egg. Slice the nian gao into a 2"x2"x.5cm square or 2"x3"x.5cm rectangle. Preheat a non stick pan. Add small amount of oil. Dip the nian gao in the egg then pan fry over medium heat till it is nicely crisp and caramelised. You can use a bacon press or the back of a spatula to press down the nian gao to speed up the process. Flip once.
      The outside will be crisp and inside will be soft and sticky. Be careful not to choke on it.

      1. re: gort

        gort: are you talking about the sweet kind, or the white kind sliced into ovals used for savory preparations (the Shanghai / Korean kind)?

        The latter should usually be soaked if you're buying it from the supermarket in those little sealed packages; my wife's dad says for 3 days, ideally, changing the water daily or more often, but 1 day will work too. The sweet kind, I think you can just slice and pan-fry.

        1. re: will47

          I should have been more clear. I'm talking about the oval kind, not the sweet kind. Thanks for the advice. They're going into water now and hopefully will be OK for use tomorrow night.

          1. re: gort

            I thought you were talking about the oval kind, but I think the OP was talking about the sweet kind. You'd think that 3 days would make them too mushy, so I don't know. 1 day will probably also be sufficient.The quality (and thickness) of the niangao matters too. Some of the brands are a little too thick.

            1. re: gort

              Overnight is more than enough time, and it's probably too long.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Yeah, especially because it sounds like it'll be close to a full day that they'll be soaking.

                1. re: chowser

                  Thanks for the replies! Much appreciated. They've been in overnight at this point, and they don't seem to be any different texture-wise than they were yesterday evening when they went into the water. I think I'm going to leave them in until tonight (in a change of water) and just hope for the best. If I waste a dollar's worth of ingredients, so be it. We'll have noodles instead, and I'll count this as a learning experience!

        2. Different ratios of ingredients (e.g. sugar (white or brown), flour, dates, nuts, etc.) will make for variations in steaming time.