Monday, February 8, 2010

Nian Gao 传统年糕 (Chinese steamed New Year sticky cake)

Since my 2 sisters and sister-in-law has no interest in baking and cooking, thus I have a big responsibility to learn from my mum for all her traditional Chinese cooking especially Hokkian dishes. Nian Gao (Chinese steamed New Year sticky cake) is one of the cake that I learnt from my mum for this Chinese New Year and this is a cake that must have during CNY. I would like to keep this recipe in my blog here, so you can try out if you have interested on it(so far, I have not seen any blogger that I knew doing this cake, tedious to make right?)

Why Chinese eat Nian Gao during CNY?
My mum told me that Nian Gao is traditionally fed to the Chinese Kitchen God, so that he will give a favorable report on the family's behavior throughout the previous year when he returns to heaven.


A lot of recipes out there required very minimum steaming time(less than an hour), adding brown sugar to make the nice colour. But my mum'recipe will test your patient, because it requires 5 hours steaming time, the process of caramelization makes the Nian Gao with nice brown colour and full of glutinuous rice fragrant. The best part is this Nian Gao can be kept in the fridge up to 6 months even no preservative is added..


Nian Gao (Chinese steamed New Year sticky cake)-makes 3 cakes

Glutinous Rice flour 500g
Water 500ml
Sugar 600g
Cooking oil 2tbsp
Banana leaves - soften it by blanched in hot water

steaming bowls- I can't find the right bowl, thus I use empty can from pineapple cans.

1. Line banana leaves on the steaming bowl.
2. Place the glutinous rice flour in a large bowl, mix in sugar (500g), oil and water. Stir the mixture till sugar dissolved.
3. In another pot, cook the balance sugar (100g) till became golden syrup.
4. Pour golden syrup into flour mixture, and the syrup will form into curd, don’t worry, continue stir until syrup dissolved in the mixture (Be careful when you pour the syrup, it will spill !)
5. Strain the mixture and pour the mixture in steaming bowl.
6. Steam cake over high flame for 1 hour, and turn to low flame for 4 hours. Make sure the water does not dry up, refill hot water from time to time.

Thanks to Bakeling helping me to translate this recipe in Chinese.


糯米粉 500 克(g)
水 500 毫升(ml)
糖 600 克( 分开 500克 , 100克)
食油 2 汤匙

1. 将香蕉叶垫在蒸的容器里。
2. 在糯米粉放进一个大碗内 ,然后加500 克的糖,食油和水搅拌均匀,直到所有糖溶解。
3. 把另外100克的糖放在另一个锅煮成金黄色的糖浆(syrup)。
4. 再将糖浆倒入第2项的面糊内搅动,当倒进糖浆时,糖浆将会凝固在面糊里成块状,我们必须一直将搅动,直到所有的糖浆和面糊混合成一体为止。
5. 把第4项的面糊用筛子过滤,然后倒进蒸碗内,再放进大锅里蒸熟。
6. 用大火蒸煮1个小时后,再改用小火,继续蒸4个小时。期间要不停加入热水。


With this lovely bite of Nian Gao, I wish you all "年年高升" (symbolism of raising oneself higher in each coming year ) !!


Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

Sonia!!! This is the best nian gao I have seen in a long, long time. It's like those my grandma used to make. The commercial ones look like plastic. Wow, I am totally impressed. Thank goodness you have an interest in the kitchen. Otherwise your mum's recipes will go to waste.

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

Ju, Thanks for your lovely words, since I have interest in kitchen, should I take this big responsibility.

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Wow, you are great Sonia! Such traditional recipe and so nicely done. :) Wonder if I will ever be able to do 年糕! Anyway, thanks for sharing such a great recipe with everyone. 新年快乐!

Anncoo said...

WOW Sonia! This is awesome. 佩服佩服!I do have recipes of nian gao but never want to do it.

Somewhere in Singapore said...

Wow, it's super nice, i like to eat this, normally will buy from outside... keke...

I'm same same with your 2 sisters and sister-in-law, kakaka...

Jane Chew said...

Oh Dear! Like what Anncoo said 佩服佩服!
I only know how to eat but no patient for that. Even my son loves it so much but not motivated by him to do it. Same with kuih dodoh :)

Somewhere in Singapore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Big Boys Oven said...

I had tasted a few great version of nian go specially made by restaurants, just cant get enough of it, I like them not too sweet, just right!

Pete said...

Good home made nian gao...thks for sharing this CNY traditional recipe!

Shandy said...

Sonia, this is new to me and I can not believe how wonderful you did! Your mom has to be proud of you for all your efforts in following traditions. Beautiful photos too.

My Little Things Corner said...

This is gooooood, good in aroma and taste too.

Chelsy's Mom 巧思妈咪 said...

Good Job, Sonia. I miss all these old recipes passed down from generation to generation. If no one keep an record, our children will lost all these treasures.

And I was told that if you use Brown sugar, it would shorten the steaming time.

My Asian Kitchen said...

great looking nian gao!! like the one sell in the market! I have the almost same recipe and try last year,turn out problem is I don't have skill to lay banana leave over tin..told my mom my recipe and using my recipe her turn out great too..she told me to blanch my banana leave first before lay over the tin

温馨小屋 said...


Beau Lotus said...

I love niangao fried with egg!

Won't try to make it, requires too much patience (which I don't have).

Bakeling said...



加油 !

米亚 said...

wow... thats amazing! You made this yourself!!! Is that red piece of cloth your table cloth??? Looks very cool!!! Very CNY feel... i like it!!! I must try this one day and see if Alex likes it... I hope he does... hehe

Rachana Kothari said...

wow... the cake looks amazing:)

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

Honey Bee Sweets, you are welcome, do try out one day.

Anncoo, hope one day you will try this.

somewhere in SG, a lot of peoples like you, hehehe.

Jane, if no motivation from my kids, I will not do this too, since you kids love this, you should try, not that difficult, you just need to sacrify some of your Shopping time, hahaha..

BBO, you also like this ya.

Pete, you are welcome.

Shandy, Thanks for your lovely words

Sze Sze, Thanks dear.

Chelsy, ya, that is fast way,but it would not taste as nice as long steaming Nian Gao, trust me, no fast way for traditional cakes.

My Asian kitchen, I heat up banana leaf over low heat over gas stove, to shorten the banana leaf, then easy to line the tin.

Felvinc, so sorry, only left one, kids sapu cepat cepat, can't give one to you. And feel lazy to start another 5 hours to make this again.

Beau Lotus, ya, i like fry with egg too.

Bakeling, Thanks for your encouragement !!

Mia, sure you want to try this, 5hours ler..

Rachana, Thanks.

Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

That dollop on the spoon - wish I could get at it! So tempting,lah!! GONG XI FA CAI! to you and your family. Enjoy your Nian Gao!

Vrinda said...

WOW that looks like our banana leaf ada,nice healthy cake and very unique

Gulmohar said...

We cook something similar too, but with normal rice flour...I could imagine the taste of this cake infused with the flavor from banana leaf...yummm...all the efforts worth it :-)

artchala said...


wendyywy said...

My aunt steams them longer than 5 hours, I heard it's almost 8 hours. Maybe that's the reason hers can keep for 6 months without referigeration. How I knew.. cos last time when I was really small, there was no fridge at home. we kept and kept the nian gaos..

Yeah, I do agree that this is a dying recipe. Many resort to buying due to the long cooking hours and the amount of fuel (wood or gas) it consumes, which makes it uneconomical to make in small batches. My aunt makes almost 100 pcs at one go for all 10 siblings and their families.

I salute u for making just 3. Make more ma, and sell to me.

zurin said...

wow that looks good Sonia!!! i never knew what these were made Iknow thanks to you!!! good job...keep the traditions going ya!

ck lam said...

Great Nian Gao you have here Sonia. I love having them roll in fresh grated coconut.

Little Corner of Mine said...

Delicious! I want this! The question is do I want it bad enough to make it myself? :P Or just resorted to the baked version. Hmmm....

pigpigscorner said...

Looks so good! I love this deep fried =)

ICook4Fun said...

I just bought one from the supermakret so I can take it back with me but I bet your homemade ones taste so much better. I like having this when it is warm with some grated coconut.

苏联妈妈 said...


Blessed Homemaker said...

Sonia, I was planning to make nian gao this Thur/Fri but you beat me to it. I love nian gao esp when it's sandwiched with sweet potato and yam, dipped into batter and pan fry, yummy!

Nate @ House of Annie said...

My grandmother back in Hawaii used to make them for Chinese New Year. They were a highlight in our house. Most store-bought ones are real crap. I wish I knew her recipe. Thanks for sharing!

Kitchen Corner said...

WOW!! You made your own homemade Nian Gao! WOW!! I like the homemade style, it looks very traditional. This must be better than the store one. Very very good job!

A Full-Timed Housefly said...

Wishing you and your family 一天比一天好,健康快乐没烦恼

mimid3vils said...

以前妈妈一做好年糕,我最爱拿筷子乘热热的时候卷来吃。。。但太多工了,妈妈现在不做了 :P

mimid3vils said...


Yummy Koh said...

Wow ... this you also can make! 佩服

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

Keats the sunshine girls, Thanks, Gong Xi Fa Cai to you too.

Vrinda and Gulmohar next time share with us your banana leaf ada.Thanks.

Artchala, why have to wait for 10years, not that difficult to do.

Wendy, since we have fridge, so we can cut short the steaming time. Due to my wok only accomodate 3 cakes, no choice lo. Wait for my mum to do some for me.

Zurin, Thanks.

CK Lam, ya, this year I want to try with fresh grated coconut.

LCOM, never heard of baked version, show us please.

pigpigcorner, ya, deep fry with egg is yummy.

ICook4fun, ya, good with fresh grated coconut.

Sulianmummy, Thanks.

Blessed homemaker, I like this way too.

Nate, you are welcome.

Kitchen corner, feel free to try out yourself.

A full-timed housefly, Gong Xi Fa Cai to you too.

mimid3vils, my kids was doing this immediately when the Nian gao done, they use fork to eat this. Wishing you Gong Xi Fa Cai to you too.

YummyKoh, Thanks.

Tina said...

Its completely a new recipe to me....Sounds great...

Happy Flour said...

Hi Sonia,

Your nian gao remind me of my old neighbour. I am sure this will taste fantastic. Thanks for sharing. Wish that next year I will have time to try out this.

petite nyonya said...

What a FANTASTIC post!! i was just thinking to myself that i have not seen any blogger try making this before. my mum used to make hers which also requires at least 4-5 hrs of steaming. unfortunately, none of us have learned it from her. we helped her made it last time but forgotten how to now. wonderful, wonderful effort and huge success, Sonia! Gong Xi Fa Cai to you!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Wow! You even made your own rice cake! Hmm ... I'd make it if only I love it more ... I'm not a big fan of 年糕! I'd only eat it when it's sliced up and deep-fried with taro slices and coated in batter. So unhealthy, huh!?

Great photos! I can see it's getting way, way better ... There's bokeh in some of your photos. ;)

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

Tina, Thanks for stopping by.

Happyflour, hopefully you will try this soon.

Petite Nyonya, Thanks for your lovely words, Gong Xi Fa Cai to you and your family too, see you soon.

Pei Lin, Thanks for your compliments, I need to learn from you to get better bokeh, chat with you when we meet up ok.

Colin Woon said...

Wow! This is an amazing bake! Good thing you got the recipe from your mom. I think less and less people knows how to bake this, keep the tradition going, Sonia!

ai wei said...

you can make this tooooo???

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

Colin, Thanks dear, ya, I will try to keep the tradition going, my blog is an example.

Ai Wei, Thanks dear.

twinklestar said...

Wow.. Very very nice.. I hope I can try it out next year too. Thanks for d posting... :) HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!

Rita said...

Hi Sonia.
You are fantastic! My Mom used to make this when I was small, it's tedious but nothing beats the traditional 5hrs method! I have the recipe but do not dream of attempting.
Happy Tiger Year to you.

Rebecca Lee said...

Sonia, you're great, as a young and pretty lady interested in cooking, I'm sure your mom will be delighted that someone in the family interested and pass on her recipes. I too did some cheating -- cook some caramel and added into the nian gao but I added less sugar as your is too sweet to me. I greased a mould with oil instead of lining the it with banana leaves -- lazy and not good at it.
I collect all the nian gao from my sister-in-laws, slice and freeze them. They can last for 1 year ! They freeze well.

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

Hi Rebecca, do you have a blog? How to contact you?

A self-exile in Canada ;) said...

Thank you so much for the recipe! It is by far the best homemade nian gao I have tried. My only question is how do I actually remove the banana leaves from the nian gao, leaving the whole thing intact? Mine ended up as a sticky mess with "shredded" banana leaves. Do I need to grease the leaves before I pour in the nian gao batter? Thanks again! =D

Chris said...


Thank you for the wonderful, precious recipe! I made it for CNY this year and the Nian Gao was delicious! I just posted it on my blog and linked it back to yours. :-D

家勤 said...


Anonymous said...

Hi Sonia,

May I know how to cook the golden syrup for the 100 gm sugar?


Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

Shirlynn, use a clean small pot, just cook 100g sugar till melt over low heat and look golden brown.

Samantha Ho said...

Hi Sonia,
Thanks for sharing recipe, this is my childhood nina gao, really want to make but im too lazy to wait 5 hours to make it... Lol...
But if just make one, can shorten the steaming time?

Anonymous said...

I cant get banana leaf in New Zealand. Can you suggest an alternative? Thanks


Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

Samantha , you can just steam for 3 hrs.,but it might not keep it too long. Since this is time consuming , why not make more at the same time..

Dorothy , I saw some people use plastic sheet..

Juliana Loh (@bilbaobab) said...

Makes me miss home! this looks delish!!! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Stef said...

Thanks for the recipe! I've tried it yesterday, left it overnight in the fridge and it's still too soft to be unmold. How long did you wait to unmold it?

Anonymous said...

Sonia's mother (aromatic nian gao) I followed exactly your mom's recipe except no oil. Finally suceeded in making a nian gao. Of course I like those with yam and keledek but too lazy. Thank you very much to Sonia and her mother.

Beauty Desire!!!! said...

Hihi. Wat type of sugar to use?; ) thanks.

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