How to Make Nian Gao for Chinese New Year

  • 01 of 08

    Introduction of red bean nian gao

    Popular Chinese New Year dessert Nian Gao
    Popular Chinese New Year dessert Nian Gao recipe. Liv Wan

    One of the most popular Chinese New Year desserts in Chinese and Taiwanese cooking is sweet nian gao (甜年糕). The two most popular nian giao’s are red bean sweet nian gao and brown sugar nian gao.

    I’m going to teach you one of the methods we use in the East to cook sweet nian gao, which is to wrap the nian gao in dumpling pastry, spring roll pastry or wonton pastry and deep fry it. This will make the sweet nian gao soft, almost melting cheese like in the middle but crispy and cruncy on the outside.

    T...MOREhere are other methods you can use which include coating the sweet nian gao with batter and pan frying until the nian gao softens or you can pan fry the nian gao on it’s own. Wrapping them in dumpling pastry is my favourite method for preparing this dessert, partially because it looks nice, and it’s a great treat that you can give to your friends or family during the Chinese New Year period.

    You can find out more information about nian gao’s history and why Chinese people eat nian gao during the Chinese Year, as well as how it’s represented in Chinese culture in my previous recipe on About.com which was all about turnip cake.

    Continue to 2 of 8 below.
  • 02 of 08

    Procedures for red bean nian gao

    Turnip cake and red bean nian ago
    Turnip cake and red bean nian ago. Liv Wan

    Ingredients for Sweet Red Bean

    400g red beans (soak in water for a 2-3 hours)

    400g brown sugar (demerara sugar)

    ¼ teaspoon salt

    Procedure for Sweet Red Bean:

    1. Drain the red beans and put into a saucepan. Add 750ml of water into the saucepan and boil it first. Once it has reached boiling point reduce the heat and simmer for around 1 hour until the red beans are soft enough that you can squash them with your fingers. Please note you must keep stirring the red beans to prevent them from burning. Add more...MORE water to the saucepan if necessary.
    2. Mix sugar and salt with the red beans while they are still hot and leave aside for a few hours to cool down

    Ingredients for Red Bean Nian Gao:

    450g glutinous rice flour

    400g sweet red beans

    420ml water

    400g brown sugar

    Procedure for Red Bean Nian Gao:

    1. Boil water and add brown sugar. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved and leave it to cool down.
    2. Mix glutinous rice flour with step 1 and make sure there are no lumps in the mixture.
    3. Mix sweet red beans into step 2 evenly.
    4. Brush a layer of oil into tin foil boxes. I used the same tin I use for making turnip cake.  (The size of the tin foil boxes is 6”x 4”x 2” and I bought it from my local Chinese supermarket) and pour the mixture into it.
    5. Use a bamboo steamer to steam the nian gao. You must wait for the water to boil first before you steam the nian gao and if you need to top up the water you must use hot water only. If the temperature changes during the cooking process the quality of the food will be affected.
    6. After the nian gao have been cooked allow them to completely cool down before attempting to remove them from the tins (otherwise they’ll stick.) Cut your rice cake into 3cm rectangle shape cubes and fold them into either spring roll pastries or wonton pastries. Deep fry them until the pastries have turned a golden brown colour. Your oil temperature should be approximately 180 degrees Celsius. Please be very careful when you put the nian gao into the oil, incase the oil spills and you burn yourself.

    You can store the nian gao in the fridge for 5 days once it has cooled down or store them in the freezer for up to 1 month. Remember to use cling film to wrap them individually before you put them into fridge or freezer to prevent the surface of the nian gao from drying out.

    Continue to 3 of 8 below.
  • 03 of 08

    Step by Step for how to wrap the nian gap with the dumpling pastry

    step 1
    step 1. Liv Wan

    1. Cut the nian gao into 3cm long rectangle cubes. 

    Continue to 4 of 8 below.
  • 04 of 08

    Put the nian gao onto the dumpling pastry near the end that close to you

    Put the nian gap on the pastry
    Put the nian gap on the pastry. Liv Wan

    2. Put the nian gao onto the dumpling pastry near the end that close to you. 

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Start folding the pastry as in the photo.

    Step 3
    Step 3. Liv Wan

    3. Start folding the pastry as in the photo.

    Continue to 6 of 8 below.
  • 06 of 08

    Roll the pastry towards the other end. Step 4

    Roll the pastry
    Step 4. Liv Wan

    4. Roll the pastry towards the other end.

    Continue to 7 of 8 below.
  • 07 of 08

    Use a bit of water to help the pastry stick together.

    Step 5
    Step 5. Liv Wan

    5. Use a bit of water to help the pastry stick together so the nian gao won’t fall out when you fry it.

    Continue to 8 of 8 below.
  • 08 of 08

    Follow this method to wrap as many nian gao as you want.

    Step 6
    step 6. Liv Wan

    6. Follow this method to wrap as many nian gao as you want.