How to Make Chinese New Year Mochi Cake (Nian Gao 年糕)


During Chinese New Year, I love making and eating this sweet and chewy nian gao (年糕). We eat this rice cake because cake in Chinese ‘糕’, sounds like the Chinese word for tall ‘高” and 年糕’s direct translation is ‘year high/tall’. So by eating this cake, we are wishing each other a new year with more pay, getting a new promotion or growing taller.

For me, eating this cake brings me so much joy because not only do I eat this once a year but also, it gets my family excited to sit together after dinner for a solid week to finish the nian gao together. Trust me, nian gao is addicting especially if you pan fry it with egg which adds a savoury flavour to the sweetness.

Here’s a video on how to make Chinese New Year Mochi Cake.

Chinese New Year Rice Cake Recipe

  • 200 g glutinous rice flour
  • 125 g wheat starch
  • 300 g water
  • 2 Chinese Slab sugar (sub: 150g of dark brown sugar)
  • 20g neutral oil
  • 50 g coconut milk
  • 2 slices of ginger.
  1. Melt sugar with water and ginger; let it cool
  2. Combine glutinous rice flour, wheat starch, oil, coconut milk
  3. Gradually mix in sugar water in 3 parts
  4. Pour mixture through sieve and into an oiled heat proof container; cover with aluminum foil
  5. Steam for 1 hour on low-medium heat
  6. Store in fridge overnight
  7. Cut mochi into bite-size pieces, dip into egg and pan fry over medium heat.

Tips for making Chinese New Year Rice Cake (Mochi)

  • Wheat starch gives structure to glutinous rice so you get the right amount of QQ/ chewiness
  • You can replace more water with coconut milk for a stronger coconut flavour as the recipe is lenient
  • Pan fry the sliced nian gao with egg for an extra savoury flavour and golden look

Happy Lunar & Chinese New Year!

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