Sweet Sticky Rice Cake – Neen Gow
It’s that that time of year when we’re in our kitchens cooking up a storm and sharing goodies with family and friends. One goodie you’ll always see is the Nian Gao which is a very simple recipe that is very sticky with a hint of sweetness.
Ingredients (makes 1 – 8″ pan)
2 cups of Glutenous Rice Flour
300 mL boiling water
1 cup brown sugar or 5 sticks of peen tong (片糖)
Note: You can add more sugar if you like it sweeter – we like it much more subtle tasting!
Peen tong is basically Chinese Rock Sugar or Chinese Rock Candy and it comes in a pack of “slabs of sugar”. If you don’t want to purchase/use it, or simply can’t find it, a great substitution would be to use brown sugar – which is what I did as it was sold out when I wanted to get it!
First off, boil some water and dissolve the sugar into it. When it becomes a syrup, you’re ready to start making your nian gao! Measure out the glutenous rice flour and pour in your syrup. Caution, this is a boiling water mixture, but make sure it’s hot!!
Mix together until it’s smooth and creamy and pour it into the dish you’d like to steam your nian gao in before it gets cold.
Once the nian gao is ready in it’s dish, put it into the steamer for about 1 hour to an hour and a half. You’ll know it’s ready when you can move the edges and it’s set. If you stick anything into this cake, it’ll stick so the toothpick test is not a good idea in this case.
If you’re enjoying it right away, be sure to allow it to cool and set for at least 15 minutes. It will be really soft and gooey and very sticky at this point – but it’s always nice to eat freshly steamed food. If you like it properly made, once it’s cooled enough, pop it in the fridge for at least 3 hours where you can cut it up and serve.
One of the ways we like to eat nian gao is to pan fry it with an egg. So, we cut the nian gao into pieces and dunk it into a beaten egg before placing it on a fry pan with some oil. It’s very important to do this on low temperatures or the nian gao will melt and stick to your pan. You’ll know these are ready when it’s “soft and gummy”.
Things I’ve heard about nian gao, but I’ve never tried it – I guess you can bake your nian gao instead of steaming it, and you’ll get a crunchier topping and more cake-like. It does however use another recipe but I don’t know it and haven’t tried it yet. But, I’m thinking I should one day! I’ve also heard that nian gao’s are extremely freezable, and when you want to enjoy it again, just steam it back up! It could be handy if you’ve received one too many for New Years!