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  • Writer's pictureBilingualbees

年糕 (nián gāo) - New Year Cake

年糕 (nián gāo), New Year Cake, is one of our favourite traditional dishes that we would eat during Chinese New Year. It’s a simple sweet steamed cake, made with glutinous rice flour and with brown sugar.

Nian Gao or Nin Gou in Cantonese also phonetically give rise to the meaning to have a "High Year" symbolises well wishes of progress, advancement and promising of a better year ahead.

Here's a simple recipe with just 3 ingredients: Glutinous rice flour, Sugar and Water.


  • 250 g glutinous rice flour

  • 350 ml water

  • 250 g dark brown sugar or Gula Melaka (coconut sugar)


  • Place sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer or until sugar is melted. Remove from the heat and let it cool down completely.

  • Pour the sugar mixture into the flour and stir until smooth. Strain the mixture through a sieve. Line the sides and base of a 20cm cake tin (you can also use an aluminium foil food container) with some vegetable oil. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and cover with aluminium foil.

  • Steam for 2-3 hours in a conventional steamer or 40 mins in a pressure cooker (e.g. Instant Pot). You can also use the steam function if using a pressure cooker.

  • Once cooked, let it cool down completely at room temperature.

You can eat the Nian Gao immediately, when it’s still warm and sticky. Alternatively, let it cool for at least 24 hours and it will be easier to slice. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge. They will harden, but they reheat nicely in a pan when sliced.


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