It’s sticky yet deliciously sweet especially when dipped in egg and fried. Not to mention, it is a symbol of good luck.
Nian gao, the Chinese New Year’s cake is a food made of glutinous rice. Though it can be eaten anytime, the sticky cake is commonly served during Chinese New Year. The reason behind this is the Mandarin pronunciation of nian gao. It sounds like nian = year and gao= higher. Thus, nian gao means higher year which signifies good luck.
Moreover, the Chinese New Year’s cake is often given as a gift. According to our Chinese family friend, giving away nian gao to relatives and friends pulls them closer. It strengthens the tie, bond or friendship. Since it’s round and is covered in red package, it also signifies good wealth and drives away evil or bad luck.
Other Names and Varieties
Aside from the various significance of nian gao, the sticky cake also bear different names. For instance in the Philippines, nian gao is called tikoy. Since a huge number of Chinese live in the country, Chinese traditions and food has been part of our culture.
In fact, we take part of their celebration and visit places like Binondo, the oldest Chinatown district in the country. Lights and lanterns have been set up. Fruits and charms are sold in every corner. Most especially, various flavors of tikoy fill the streets.
Do you know where the largest tikoy in the Philippines is located? Well, search no more because it can be found in Ongpin Street. The nian gao or tikoy is 3 feet in diameter and weighs 264 pounds.
Camille Diola’s article can be found here.
In addition, neighbor countries Japan and Korea also have their own glutinous rice. Japan has their mochi while Korea has their tteok.
Now, have you received or bought you nian gao or tikoy? Do you have a different way to prepare it? This is how we prepare ours.
For the first one, you will need egg. Simply slice the tikoy, dip in beaten egg and fry. Second preparation is to wrap a small amount of tikoy with lumpia wrapper. Then fry! Simple, eh?!
Have fun cooking and eating. May you have a prosperous Year of the Horse!