Niangao or glutinous rice cake is a very important Chinese New Year Cake that most families will prepare and purchased during Chinese New Year. It signifies progression over the years or 年年高升.
In essence, niangao is made from glutinous rice flour and supposed to be a very sweet and sticky cake and usually offer to the kitchen god. When the kitchen god who is supposed to report to the Jade emperor in the heaven about the wrong doings of each family eaten the offered sweet sticky cake, his mouth will be sealed and he cannot report the wrong doings of that family. That is the conspiracy theory and if it is based on this definition of stickiness, it should be 粘糕 （literally translated as sticky cake). But how it becomes 年糕 （literally translated as year cake) is unknown.
Therefore, as long as the cake is made from glutinous rice flour, it qualifies to be called a niangao. Based on this definition, niangao comes in many forms. Traditional niangao that are common in Singapore and Malaysia are as in the picture below and you can refer the recipe in this post; Baked or Steamed,You Decide Yourself–Glutinous Rice Cake, Nian Gao (年糕）
Another common form of niangao in the white colour glutinous rice cake resembling the Korean rice cake Tteok. It is common in the Jiangnan region of China especially in Shanghai and Ningbo area . It is also a very common snack locally and some did not called it niangao but bai guo gang (白粿干）。 If you are interested in the recipe, you can refer to this post: Ningbo Niangao, Shanghai Niangao or Bai Guo Gan (宁波年糕，上海年糕，白果干）
Yet in Hong Kong and Taiwan, there is another type of niangao that was prepared using red bean. It is the red bean niangao . Apparently, this is rather common in that region and a Google will shows lots of results 。 Besides the meaning of progression over the year (年年高升）， the red beans used also signifies great good fortune will be with the family (鸿运当头) . This is because 红 has 鸿 has the same rhymes.
I have read many recipes and come to my own recipe and I believed that it will be a nice cake. It is the cake that is full red bean aroma. It can be pan fried or deep fried like what are usually served here. I believed that this will suit Singaporean and Malaysian’s taste buds and therefore I have decided to try preparing it based on my designed recipe. Yes, it is a successful cake standing tall and big, The cake is still soft after 3 days of preparation. I have yet to put in the fridge and I believed it will harden if it was in the fridge. I have not cut the cake as of today as I have difficult of finishing the whole cake and therefore, I may want to give it to friends.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: Prepare a 6 inches diameter tall niangao
- 500 grams of glutinous rice flour
- 500 grams of cooked red beans (refer below)
- 400 ml or grams of hot water
- 300 grams of brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons of wheat starch
- 1-2 tablespoons of additional red beans for decoration (optional)
You can refer to this post to Hong Kong Red Bean Steamed Rice Cake aka Put chai ko (砵仔糕) for the preparation of red beans.
STEPS OR PREPARATION
- Lightly greased a 6 inches diameter tall baking tin. Alternatively, you can lined the container with cellophane sheets or baking paper or banana leaves.
- In a mixing bowl, put the cooked red beans, hot water and brown sugar. Stir until well combined. Sift in glutinous rice flour. Stir until it forms a thick paste. Transfer to the baking tin, level the top and put additional red beans on top of the cake to create your preferred design.
- In a pot, put water adequate to steam for at least 1 hour. Steam start from cold water and bring to boil. Once it boil, turn to medium heat and let it simmer steaming for at least 1-1.5 hours or a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- This cake should be consumed as soon as possible. Otherwise, keep in the fridge. It can be pan fried or deep fried with some batters or re-steamed again to make it soft.
- There is no such a need to make such a big cake like mine. You can always use square mould, cupcake cups etc. to prepare smaller niangao.
There are still many types of niangao and it is my hope that i will share with readers one niangao recipe per year. If you are tired of the traditional niangao, you may want to give this niangao a try. The niangao can also be baked at 180 degree Celsius but timing should be at least 45 minutes or until the glutinous rice cake is cooked.
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