Foolproof, Ridiculously Easy Nian Gao Recipe for Chinese New Year Pudding Cake 年糕

Posted by on Feb 10, 2013

This Lunar or Chinese New Year, we attempted to make as much of our Chinese meal from scratch as possible.  In reality, depending on who you ask, it wasn’t a traditional menu.  There were no whole steamed fish or chicken, abalone slices on vegetables , dried oysters stewed with hair-like seaweed, or any of those typical Chinese New Year dishes that we grew to love (or despise) as kids.  We did, however, tried to keep it Chinese-y.

Chinese Lunar New Year menu by Melody Fury | Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Austin TX and Vancouver BC

Our Chinese Lunar New Year menu.  Please be kind to my baby Chinese writing.  I tried my best!

In particular, we planned our menu so that we could make as much of the dishes in advance as possible.  Having experienced many stressful and chaotic kitchens that attempted to dish out one too many complicated items, I did not want that for us.

So we made a lo bak go (Chinese radish cake with Chinese sausage and bacon) and a batch of hand wrapped pork dumplings in advance.  I marinated some pork shoulder and vacuum sealed them, in preparation for making cha siu (Chinese barbeque pork 叉燒).

On the morning of, I thew the pork into the sous vide machine.  I also made this quintessential dessert pudding cake.  This coconut and cane sugar based pudding cake is sticky and stretchy.  If you enjoy the texture of mochi, you’ll likely love this.  Coconut milk adds a richness and nuttiness to the cake.  When this cake is sliced and pan fried, a thin, crisp crust forms on the outside.  It is finished with a beaten egg for additional crispness and oomph.

Foolproof, Ridiculously Easy Nian Gao Recipe for Chinese New Year Pudding Cake 年糕 by Melody Fury | Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Austin TX and Vancouver BC

Chinese New Year Pudding Cake 年糕 tastes and looks a lot more complicated that it is to make.  You’ll impress your friends with this foolproof recipe

Due to the amount of preparation that we did ahead of time,  last night was a breeze.  We torched and sliced the cha siu after pulling it out of the sous vide machine.  We hand rolled some fresh noodles, which we served with the dumplings.  I blanched some gai lan (Chinese broccolini) and tossed it in garlic and oyster sauce.  I pan fried the up the sliced lo bak go and served them sizzling hot.  Everything came together quickly enough so that we could spend more time drinking and chatting with our friends.

Sous vide cha siu (Chinese barbeque pork 叉燒) by Melody Fury | Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Austin TX and Vancouver BC

Torching up some perfectly cooked cha siu that bathed for 6 hours in our sous vide machine

For the finale, I pan seared the 年糕 and served it as dessert.  We were all so stuffed but of course, it wasn’t Chinese New Year without 年糕 so we all had a few slices.  I finished the left overs for breakfast with some Oolong tea.

Foolproof, Ridiculously Easy Nian Gao Recipe for Chinese New Year Pudding Cake 年糕 by Melody Fury | Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Austin TX and Vancouver BC

I poured 2 beaten eggs into the pan here.  I like my extra eggy.  If you prefer less eggs, dip the cake into an egg instead of pouring it over.

So if you’re looking for the easiest, most incredibly simple recipe for Chinese New Year pudding cake, look no further.  This also makes a unique dessert for any time of year.  Enjoy it, and much thanks to everyone that requested this recipe.  Keep them coming on Twitter or Facebook!

 

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  • chinagurl

    thanks for the recipe! i made it for a CNY dinner yesterday and it was a hit. however, i’m wondering if there’s a way to make the texture smoother? mine tasted a bit grainy, maybe from the texture of the flour? i’m used to the store bought nian gao which is very smooth. thanks!

  • http://www.gourmetfury.com/ Melody Fury

    Hi there, great to hear from you and thanks for trying the recipe. Mine was not grainy at all but I can give a few tips that may help. Firstly, ensure that the sugar is fully melted. Secondly, be sure that the syrup is completely cooled before you add the flour. Otherwise, the flour will clump up. Thirdly, use a whisk and whisk hard until all lumps are gone. Try those tips and see if it turns out smoother.

  • Chan

    It took me over two hours of steaming before the top wasn’t fluid anymore, perhaps I used too small of a dish to steam it in (smaller surface area on steam?) I chose one similar to the store bought size. What size was the container you put the “dough” in for steaming?

  • http://www.gourmetfury.com/ Melody Fury

    Hi Chan,

    The fluid on top can be caused by condensation. There’s no need to steam it until the fluids are gone. After it cools, simply absorb the liquid with a paper towel if it still remains. Was your cake cooked all the way through when you sliced it? The best way to test it is to stick a skewer in to test for doneness. The larger the container, the thinner the batter, the quicker the cooking time. I’ve used everything from a 6 to 9 inch pans and they’ve all worked fine.
    – Melody