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Yam/Sweet Potato ‘Nian Gao’ Sandwich Fritters

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NiángāoYear cake or Chinese New Year’s cake is a sweet cake prepared from glutinous rice flour and consumed traditionally during Chinese New Year.   It is considered good luck to eat nian gao during this time, because “nian gao” is a homonym for “higher year.” The Chinese word 粘 (nián), meaning “sticky”, is identical in sound to 年, meaning “year”, and the word 糕 (gāo), meaning “cake” is identical in sound to 高, meaning “high or tall”. As such, eating nian gao has the symbolism of raising oneself taller in each coming year (年年高升 niánnián gāoshēng).  This sticky sweet snack was believed to be an offering to the Kitchen God, with the aim that his mouth will be stuck with the sticky cake, so that he can’t badmouth the human’s family to the God of all Gods :-p

Note : The above information has been adapted from


This is what we called ‘nian gao’ in Mandarin or ‘nin go’ in Cantonese which literally translated to be ‘Chinese New Year Cake’ … it is actually Steamed Sweet Glutinous Rice Cake … these are store-bought ones but can easily be made at home … made up of sugar & glutinous rice flour mixture and steamed in banana leaves lined tins … apparently the longer it is steamed, the caramel colour would be richer and the cake will last longer without going mouldy too quickly and when steaming, have to be careful that the condensed water from the steam do not drip onto surface of the cake otherwise bubbly patches would appear on the surface giving it a ugly ‘pimpled look’!


‘Nian Goa’ is a sweet/dessert/tea-time snack and may be deep fried in flour batter sandwiched with yam & sweet potatoes or may be steamed till soft & gooey and then rolled in fresh grated coconut or even just dip in egg and deep fried on its own or eaten on it’s own 😉


From top anti-clockwise .. the ‘nian gao’ = Chinese New Year Cake = Steamed Sweet Glutinous Rice Cake; sliced Sweet Potatoes; sliced Taro Yam; sliced ‘nian gao’; flour batter


Sandwich the ‘nian gao’ with a slice of yam and a slice of sweet potato


Coat the sandwiched ‘nian gao’ in the flour batter ….. this is a simple self-raising flour mixed with just enough water to a ‘coating’ consistency + a pinch of salt


Heat enough oil for deep-frying in a pan/pot and deep-fry the batter coated ‘nian gao’ sandwich until golden and yam/sweet potato are cooked through (pierce with a bamboo skewer and if it pierce through easily then it is cooked)


Cantonese style Fried ‘Nian Gao’ dipped in egg