Saturday, February 6, 2016

Traditional Chinese New Year Cake/Nian Gao 【传统年糕制作】

My childhood was spent mostly in a small town in southern part of Peninsular Malaysia. The "festive" atmosphere in small towns during and before Chinese New Year are so much stronger in comparison to cities.

The elderly in families will start making types of New Year cakes/Kuehs weeks before Chinese New Year. This Nian Gao/Sticky rice cake is one of them.

My grandma was the one that makes this cake for everyone in the family, she will stay up all night to watch the fire. Every step of making this cake is manual and rigorous.

Nian Gao is normally used for prayers in Chinese New Year, a well steamed Nian Gao can be stored for months without being refrigerated.

Even though there are many short cut recipes of Nian Gao circulating around the net nowadays.

I still find it imperative to preserve the traditional way of making it.

Though I can't stone grind my glutinous rice and steam cook using firewoods, I do manage to replicate the process as closely to the origin as I can with the aids of blender and slow cooker.

I have to say that I cannot be more pleased with the result!

Here I am, together with my family heritage -- Nian Gao, wishing everybody a prosperous and healthy year of Monkey!





Ingredients :(Make two 5-6 inch diameter cake)
2 large pieces of fresh or frozen banana leaves
300 gm of glutinous rice
300 gm of sugar
1/3 cup of water
Two 6-inch diameter bowls

材料:(制作 2 只 直径 5-6寸的年糕)

2 大片的 新鲜或冷冻 芭蕉叶

300 克 长糯米

300 克 白糖

1/3 杯 水

两个 直径6 寸的深碗或烤模

1. Wash and soaked glutinous rice for at least 4 hours. Grind the rice together with sugar with 1/3 cup of water (no more than that).

Note: If your mixer is not so powerful, you can mix the rice and sugar before grinding, the sugar will liquefy during the grinding process, which will aid in grinding.

2. Softened the fresh banana leaves by soaking/blanching it briefly in boiling water (if frozen ones are used, not need to blanch). Remove hard stems and wiped clean. cut the banana leaves into 4-5 inches in width,

3. Line banana leaves around steaming bowls by overlapping the pieces and place a round shape of banana leaves at the bottom to further secured the leaves.

4. Use a rubber band or cotton rope to secure the leave around bowls to avoid deformation/shrunken of the leaves during steaming process, which could then resulting in out of shape cakes.

1. 糯米洗净后泡水至少4个小时,沥干后加入1/3杯水(水不能多),倒入搅拌机里和白糖一起磨成糊。如果搅拌机马力不是很大的话,可以预先把糖和米粒拌匀再倒入搅拌,糖在搅拌的过程会液化,会很容易搅拌顺滑。

2. 把新鲜的芭蕉叶用滚水烫软(如果用冷冻的就不需要这个步骤),擦洗干净后剪去硬梗部分,撕成4-5寸宽,围着圆碗或烤模交叠铺上,尽量紧密地交叠,底部再铺上一块圆形的芭蕉叶。用个橡胶圈或棉绳把芭蕉叶圈起稳定。这样做可以避免芭蕉叶在蒸煮的时候卷起变形进而造成年糕变形。

3. 把慢炖锅/蒸笼开启后,把磨好的米浆倒入铺有芭蕉叶的模具里,7-8分满。

3. Heat up the slow cooker / steamer, pour rice mixture into steaming bowls lined with banana leaves, leave around 1 inch of space for the cake to expand during steaming.

 4. Place a bigger bowl upside down in the slow cooker to raise the height so that we could add more water for long hours of steaming. Place the steaming bowl on top and add boiling water to the crockpot up to about 80% full.

5. Lightly place a clean towel or kitchen towel over the cooker before putting the lid on to prevent water dripping on the cake.

6. Steam the cake at high (On crockpot) and medium low on steamer for 13-16 hours (I steamed mine for 15 hours) until the cakes become amber in color (Caramelized) and the surface become smooth.

7. Remove the cakes from cooker and let cooled for about 12 hours before removing from steaming bowls. 

 4. 在慢炖锅里倒扣一个比较大的碗,再把装有米浆的蒸碗摆在上头,慢炖锅里加入滚水,至7-8分满。在锅上盖上一块干净的布或厨房纸,加盖慢炖锅用高火/蒸笼用中小火蒸煮13-16个小时(我蒸了15个小时)。直至年糕变琥珀色(糖已焦化), 表面平滑即可。

5. 取出蒸碗年糕冷却定型(大约12个小时)后才脱模。


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