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Chinese Food Articles >> Chinese Recipes

Nian Gao Recipe

For those of you who do not know, Malaysia is a multi-cultural country that made up from the Malays, Indians, Chinese and many other races. Every year, the Chinese would celebrate Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year, there's a very popular and a must-have food to celebrate with. It is said to bring luck to everybody in terms of finance, career and family. This is a cake that has been traditionally passed down from many generations thousands of years ago, it is call 'Nian Gao' or some people call it Chinese New Year cake.

'Nian Gao' was told a story that Chinese has been using this cake to store as food for winter. This cake can be kept for long time without spoil and it provides energy to our body during winter.

Last year, I've visited a factory that produces this cake and had met with its owner. I was very curious on how they actually make this cake and I was asking for the cake's recipe. The owner didn't let me down from my sincere request, and so he gave the recipe to me. Below is the recipe that I would love to share with you.

Ingredients to prepare:

- 1 1/2 (325ml) cups water

- 2 1/2 (625ml) cups dark brown sugar

- 4 1/2 cups sweet glutinous rice flour

- 1/2 cup (125ml) vegetable oil

Instruction to make Nian Gao:

1. Pour the brown sugar and water into a small saucepan, bring it to slow boil. When it starts to boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 5 to 6 minutes until all the sugar has dissolved. Then allow it to cool to slightly warm temperature.

2. Add vegetable oil and mix (1) together thoroughly. Keep a 1/4 cup of the mixture in a separate container.

3. Combine the glutinous rice flour with the oil, water and mixture (2) in a large bowl. Work through the batter well. It will turn very sticky and thick. Spend as much time as possible to knead and work the mixture to a uniform consistency.

4. Use a 250 mm round tin cake or a round soufflé bowl of similar diameter. Oil the sides of the cake tin or bowl with some vegetable oil. Pour the batter into the cake tin or bowl. With wet fingers press the batter into the cake tin or bowl and dislodge any air pockets. Pour the reserved oil, sugar and water mixture on top.

5. Steam the cake over high heat for 4-5 hours. Make sure the water does not dry up or overtop the cake tin or bowl.

6. When the cake is done, remove from the steamer and allow cooling to room temperature.

7. For faster process, you can also cover it with foil and keep in the refrigerator to allow the cake to harden.

To serve, simply slice into wedges and serve in a plate. For those who prefer a soft texture, microwave for 20 seconds or steam on boiling water for 5 minutes until softened to the desired consistency.

Chinese New Year and 'Nian Nian Gao Sheng'( increasing prosperity every year)!

About the Author

Edwin Lim is a freelance copywriter living in Malaysia. For more article writing and marketing insights, visit his Website at