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When the bell rang midnight 12 o’clock on Chinese new year eve, the celebrations formally started. The traditional celebration normally lasts for 15 days, until the lantern festival on 15th January, Chinese calendar. The whole celebration can be generally summarised as follows:  ‘visiting friends and families, to say happy new year’, ‘eating and eating’, and ‘setting off the fireworks’. Also, these meals typically involve fancy cooking methods (not just stir frying), like ‘dun’, ‘shao’, and so on, some of which I mentioned before. It is said that traditionally people need to eat dumplings everyday during the first five days, however, nowadays, people would have them twice or three times during these five days. One of the traditional dishes eaten during the New Year for Chinese people is a New Year Cake. It’s a very simple steamed cake, made with glutinous rice flour for a mochi-like chewy texture and sweetened with brown sugar. The cake is readily available in Chinese markets around this time of year, but you can also easily make it at home.


I already have the steamed nian gao, but I was wondering whether I’d somehow be able to bake it instead of frying. If you want to do really healthy, I sometimes slice it, put it on parchment paper and microwave it. However, in modern days, the celebration mostly concentrates on the first 5 days, and then finishes with the lantern festival on the 15th day (well, more like 18th, when all the lanterns are packed away).
In return, you will receive a ‘red pocket’ — money wrapped in red paper, called ‘Ya sui qian’, some translate it as ‘luck money’ or ‘gift money’. One thing is for sure that almost everyone would eat dumplings at some point during the festival. It won’t stick to the parchment paper and it becomes nice and chewy again in the microwave.
Im attempting to make this for the first time, but I have no idea how to steam in a pan like this!
I think it is very similar to Spanish ‘estrenas’, the only difference is the colour of the money wrapping.


It is normally made with glutinous rice flour, (or in north, it is made with sticky yellow grain rice).
As a result, it is usually sliced and served either pan fried or dipped in egg batter and deep fried. Mine always gets sooo sticky when I pan fry so I’m wondering if flour will do the trick.
The recipes of ‘nian gao’ vary from region to region, for example, in north, it is steamed, or even served cold (with a special recipe), while in the south, it can be lightly fried.
Steam about 1 hour or until sides begin to pull away from cake and cake becomes solid and set. To reheat, slice into squares and pan fry with some oil or dip in egg and flour and deep fry.



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