Happy Chinese New Year! The Year of Rabbit falls on February 3, 2011. It is the largest annual celebration for the Chinese. Chinese New Year is also equivalent to Lunar New Year or Spring Festival. The origin of Chinese New Year began with the story of Nian. It was the name of a furious and ugly beast that lived with people in ancient times. As people want to avoid contact with Nian, a wise man in the village taught them the method to arrange firework, burn bamboos, play drums and gongs to scare off the beast. They successful killed the beast as it was terrified and exhausted by the loud noise. These methods still remain till today and use during the Chinese New Year celebration.
There are different traditions, beliefs and customs beneath the the celebration itself. Rory Bowland’s article Chinese New Year; Traditions and Customs introduces the metropolitan, Hong Kong’s Chinese New Year holiday celebration. There are more links for readers to check out interesting topics such as: 12 Chinese Zodiac Signs and superstitions. One fact that all Chinese agree is the color red is a symbol of gaining good luck. Home decorations are full of red greeting signs. People will greet each other with positive meaning phrases such as “Gong Hei Fat Choy” to greet people who are working to earn more profit or “Shen Te Jian Kang” which greets people with good health. Moreover, the red pocket, (Lai See or Hong Bao), is money inserted into a red packet by married couples, which gives to children or unmarried adults. This is one of my favorite activities in Chinese New Year 😉
There are all sorts of mouthwatering traditional food serve during Chinese New Year. turnip cakes, dumplings, as well as sweet pastries are available for the Chinese. Glutinous rice cake (Nian Gao), is this week’s tutorial for my audience. “Nian Gao” symbolizes one may grow taller and faster. This is one of the most popular Chinese traditional food during the celebration.
Sweet rice cake, 2 eggs, corn starch
1) Take out the glutinous rice cake from the package and slice it into pieces (around 1 to 1.5cm). Thin cut helps to reduce the cooking time and ensure its fully cooked.
2) Take a piece of glutinous rice cake and apply a thin layer of corn starch on both sides.
*Tip: The layer of corn starch act as a coat to avoid the rice cake sticking to the frying pan.
3) Put the two eggs into a bowl & whisk them to liquid form.
4) Take the corn starched glutinous rice cake and coat a layer of egg on its surface evenly.
5) Heat up the frying pan with a hint of oil.
6) Put the coated glutinous rice cake into the pan and fry for about 2 minutes.
7) Flip it over and fry the other side for another 2 to 3 minutes.
*Tip: Use low heat to cook the glutinous rice cake. This helps to prevent the egg surface to be overcooked, while the inner part has not been fully cooked. How to make sure its cooked or not? An easy way is to check it with your frying shovel. If the whole piece turns from hard to soft, that means it is fully cooked.
8) Turn off the stove and the delicious glutinous rice cake is ready to serve!
*Tip: Recommend to serve immediately!
A close up of the inner surface of the sweet rice cake 🙂
The Nian Gao is bought from 99 Ranch Market. I randomly picked a Taiwanese brand.
Nutrition Facts as follow:
Calories 180 (Serving per 3 slices)
Calories from Fat 30
Total Carbohydrate 13.8
Nowadays, Chinese New Year is still considered as a crucial festival for family and friends to celebrate together. Walk around the flower markets and visit the temples to pray for good luck are two popular activities for people to choose from the festival to-do-list. I wish this tutorial can act as a guide for those who want to try some authentic Chinese food as well as learn more about the Chinese culture.