Today, Daddy Lau will be teaching us our family recipe and for making the perfect Nian Gao with Red Bean! (紅豆年糕).
What you'll be learning:
- My family’s spin on this traditional recipe!
- Context on the key ingredients, and the equipment you'll need to make this dish (+ alternatives)
- The various idioms and meanings behind Nian Gao and all of its various toppings
Nian Gao is a popular dessert and gift during Lunar New Year!
Technically, lots of cakes (taro cake, turnip cake, sponge cake, etc) qualify as a "New Year Cake", but this is the recipe that comes to mind when people speak of Nian Gao.
If you've never had Nian Gao before, it's a chewy, sticky, semi-sweet bite of deliciousness. It's a lot like a Japanese mochi, and my family's addition of red beans gives it sort of Snickers bar texture with less crunch and without the chocolate taste.
It's absolutely delicious. If you pan fry them in oil, which is also optional, it's made even more delicious with a subtle soft & crispy contrast.
Reaching New Heights
Nian Gao (nìhn gōu in Cantonese) roughly translates to "New Year Cake", and it's a sticky rice cake with thousands of years of history and thousands more variations all across Asia.
My family makes Nian Gao year-round, but it’s a must during Lunar New Year. In Cantonese, the word for "cake 糕” shares the same sound as “high 高”, gōu, so cake is intertwined with many sayings and symbols of good luck.
There are several sayings that tie into the cake/high connection, such as:
- bouh bouh gōu sīng 步步高升 - climb step by step, rise steadily
- faai gōu jéung daaih 快高長大 - wishes for children to grow taller and bigger quickly