Originally posted on March 6, 2020
Embracing my culture and holding onto traditions is a forever goal of mine. During a time where incidences of xenophobia is increasing, I hold onto this goal just a bit more closely. It’s disheartening to hear all the racist remarks that accompany the coronavirus outbreak rather than words of empathy for those who are sick. I hope we all stay safe and healthy through good hand hygiene and self-care and not by the avoidance of anything Chinese-related, including its food. With that said, here is my short post I had started two months ago.
Nian Gao – the beautiful rice cake that sits gleaming beside a plate full of tangerines and pomelo at my house signify a start of a new year. For us Cantonese speakers, we call it “neen go,” which literally translates to “year cake.” I used to love watching the steam rise out of the wok as my grandma lifted the cover to reveal the caramelized brown color of the cake. Some years, she would make a “thousand layer” version of it, which was so fun to eat. This is the first time I’m making this cake, so I’m keeping it simple. One day, I will work my way up to my grandma’s level!
I originally planned to collaborate with my dad on this, but was unable to get around to it. I scoured the web for different recipes and went with the simplest version using ingredients I already had – glutinous rice flour (you have to buy the bagged version with the green text with Chinese grocery stores), and brown sugar bar. I simmered some ginger in the sugary syrup, which gave it a really nice flavor, and added a western touch by putting in vanilla bean paste! It tasted pretty decent. Recipe was loosely translated from here.
I fully intend on being better about posting my own or family recipes in the future though!