The Lunar New Year is this Friday, January 31, 2014.
One of the traditional dishes eaten during the New Year for Chinese people is a New Year Cake.
It’s a very simple steamed cake, made with glutinous rice flour for a mochi-like chewy texture and sweetened with brown sugar.
The name literally translates as “year cake.” It is supposed to be good luck to eat it because the cake name is a homonym for “higher year.” Thus, the belief is if you consume the cake, you will have a successful upcoming year. I always eat it simply because I love it, especially with its chewy texture.
The cake is readily available in Chinese markets around this time of year, but you can also easily make it at home. After the cake is finished steaming, it’s soft and chewy. Once it cools and is stored, it will become hard and dense. As a result, it is usually sliced and served either pan fried or dipped in egg batter and deep fried. Both methods heat the cake and restore it to its originally sticky and chewy form.
There’s many variations and flavors, but the most basic one which I grew up with is only three ingredients: glutinous rice flour, water, and brown sugar. You can make these ahead of time, store them in the fridge, gift them to friends.
Chinese New Year Cake
400g glutinous rice flour
300g dark brown sugar
about 2 cups of water
Bring water to a boil and stir in sugar until it is completely dissolved. Add in rice flour and stir until smooth. Grease an 8 inch round cake pan. Fill with batter. Steam about 1 hour or until sides begin to pull away from cake and cake becomes solid and set. You can eat as is. To store, place in airtight container in fridge. To reheat, slice into squares and pan fry with some oil or dip in egg and flour and deep fry.