Inside outside…

According to Wikipedia, it is considered  lucky to eat nian gao or (Chinese New) Year cake because the Chinese word 粘 (nián), meaning “sticky”, is identical in sound to 年, meaning “year”, and the word 糕 (gāo), meaning “cake” is identical in sound to 高, meaning “high or tall” so eating nian gao has the symbolism of raising oneself taller in each coming year (年年高升 niánnián gāoshēng).

Well, I did not know that. In my growing up years, we called it t’nee koi or sweet cake in Hokkien and I was told that it was offered to the Kitchen God so when he went back to Heaven, he would say all the sweet things to the Almighty One up there and besides, it was so very sticky so the Kitchen God’s lips would get stuck together and he would not be able to report any bad things that one had done in the course of the year. Hmmm…isn’t there some kind of a conflict in that? If the Kitchen God’s lips were sealed, how would he, on the other hand, be able to report all the sweet things then?

As for it being sticky, I couldn’t agree more and that explained why, all through the years, I never liked it. I found it hard to bite and chew and to swallow and I would feel like I would choke to death, the same thing as when eating those tang yuan (湯圓) or glutinous rice balls or even mochi. My mother would cut it into slices using a string/thread – it was so sticky it was virtually impossible to cut it with a  knife, coat with egg and deep fry but that did not help. I still did not like it much and besides, that made it a little bit oily some more. For this reason, we have never bothered to buy any to eat, come Chinese New Year each year, so I guess you can imagine the Kitchen God going back to report all the juicy stories of all the naughty things we had done in the course of the year. LOL!!!

This year, however, was different! Some kind soul in KL was so nice as to send me her own homemade one…

Nian gao 1

…in the hope that this year, the Almighty One would get to hear some sweet things about me for a change.

See how nice and smooth hers was…

Nian gao 2

…and I did not know whether it was taken straight out of the fridge or what but it was kind of hard and so easy to cut into small slices using a knife. No, I did not have to look for a thread to do that.

A friend of mine said that she wrapped hers with popiah (spring roll) skin and deep fried them “till golden brown” and it was very nice. I did not know what she meant when she warned me not to fry for too long or it would “explode”! Surely one would need to fry for quite a while to get it all nicely browned, right? Anyway, I had no intention of deep-frying mine as I imagined it would turn out something like these…

Meat floss rolls

…rolls of meat floss wrapped in popiah skin and deep fried. My friend who sent me the nian gao she made gave me these too and yes, she made them herself as well.

So what I did was I wrapped the nian gao slices with the popiah skin…


…and put them in the oven to bake. When I could smell the fragrance, I went back into the kitchen to check and oh no!!! Somehow, the nian gao had melted and seeped out of the skin. No, the packets did not explode, thankfully, or the nian gao would be all over the walls of the oven.

It was a little sticky, not too sticky – easy to pull off so I could get them out of the pan onto a plate without leaving any trace of it in the former…and all I had to do was to wrap the nian gao all around on the outside and eat. I guess it did not matter one bit whether it was on the inside or outside, right? This one came out looking pretty good…

Nian gao slices

…and yes, it tasted really very nice and went absolutely well with the very crispy popiah skin.

Well, I enjoyed it so much that I made up my mind right away that if my kind and generous friend would send me another one next year, I would do the exact same thing but maybe, I would use two layers of the popiah skin instead to make sure that the nian gao stays inside.

Now, call it sheer coincidence or what but right after I had enjoyed eating the outcome of my experiment, I went back to check on my Facebook page…and lo and behold! I found out that I had been named one of the winners of a 3-day/2-night hotel stay at Asoke, Bangkok or Patong, Phuket! I had joined a contest around Christmas on Tune Insurance’s Facebook page by just liking it and sharing the poster regarding the contest. Now, was that sheer coincidence or because of the good luck derived from eating the nian gao? LOL!!! Hmmm…the trouble is now I would have to fly to Bangkok or Phuket to use the prize… Sigh!!!!!

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

22 thoughts on “Inside outside…”

  1. me so unlucky, didnt eat nian gao this CNY!

    You were in KL, right? Lots of that there. I think those in the supermarts here all came from that side – hitting the shelves long before Chinese New Year came around.

  2. Congrats on winning the stay mate! I’ve actually stayed at their hotel in Patong, Phuket on my last day there during one of my trips to Thailand. I haven’t been to the one in Bangkok though so I can’t comment.

    That’s good luck indeed, now you have to find one of those Zero Fare promo tickets to go with it!

    Happy Chap Goh Meh to you and your family Arthur! 🙂

    Thanks. Hope you and your loved ones there had a great one too. Ya…will have to check the air fares and hop over one of these days to use the prize.

  3. Haha I am laughing when I read the God’s mouth is sticky to report bad things but how he manage to report the good thing then? Hmmm… Ooooo I like two types of fried popiah rolls – seaweed and meat floss.. Give me those and I can finish the whole jar, yummmzzz…You are very creative to put nian gao into popiah skins and then bake it.. I never thought of that!

    LOL!!! In my younger years, I always wondered how he could do that with his mouth all stuck with the nian gao! So funny, the stories. I like the rolls with sambal too…and no, it wasn’t my idea – got it from a friend via Facebook and I decided to bake instead of deep-fry.

  4. Congratulations!!!!…Arthur. The nian gao brings you good luck. Good start for you for the year of the goat and hope many many more to come all your way. Oh, before I forget, I must quickly go & eat mine too. Who knows I might be the next lucky one, hihihi…..

    Thanks. Sure was a great start to the Year of the Goat indeed. Go, go…go and eat some quickly – hopefully, it will bring you lots of luck as well.

  5. A novel idea to me, wrapping Niangao in popiah wrappers and oven baking it.

    I saw my friend’s photo on Facebook. She deep-fried hers.

  6. Congratz! I don’t eat nian gao frequently but we normally eat with 2 slices of yam sandwiching it and to deep fry the duo, crunchy yet sticky-sweet

    Yes, I’ve seen that in some blogs. There are some with sweet potato too. It’s a love-hate thing, I guess – some love…others say they hate those with yam.

  7. I have such a sweet tooth! I would find it hard to stop eating one of those sticky sweets.

    I’ve grown out of that. Old age, maybe…so I just stopped eating all that much and somehow lost the craving for anything sweet. Will eat but will not go out of my way for it.

  8. Opps… When i said explode i mean it could burst open.
    Glad u liked it. I prefer to eat it this way. Next time will try the oven method.

    These, they did not open…but somehow the nian gao managed to escape but it tasted really good, not so sweet – maybe my friend reduced the sugar or the skin helped to balance it a bit.

  9. Go lah, go enjoy yourself in Bangkok or Phuket…

    Money, money, money… You sponsor air fare, can? 😉

  10. That’s an interesting way to eat nian gao, with popiah skin! My grandma likes to coat them with flour or sandwich with sweet potato or yam, then deep fry the whole thing. So yum!

    Yes, I’ve seen those variations in some blogs and websites but I just wanted to keep it simple – trying it out…and I was sure I was not going to like it since I never liked nian gao – and I did!!! Sadly what turned out did not look very presentable but no matter, it all ended up in the same place! 😉

  11. Your “ong” sure “mari” and you now have a ticket to Bangkok or Phuket! But you don’t sound too excited. Not the prize you were hoping for? I have always thought the nian gao was to glue the Kitchen Gods mouth so that he won’t talk much. That Wikipedia explanation is new to me. Anyway, I love nian gao fried with yam. It is oily, but oh so good! I also love your creation with the popiah skin. But I did not get any nian gao this year 😦

    Hahahahahaha!!!! You did not HINT…HINT…HINT…enough! 😀 😀 😀

    The prize for hotel stays, no air fare…so I would need to fork out the money for that. Dunno if I can get hold of anything cheap, will see.

  12. My boss just gave me a big nian gao after his prayers..LOL! Anyway, I was thinking the easiest way to cook it. Wrapping with popiah skin, i LIKE!

    Good luck! Hope it will not melt and seep out. Try two layers.

  13. Just before CNY, I bought one and steamed it … very nice if eaten with young coconut… and another way is to put the nien koe in between a piece of yam and sweet potato! I can take many pieces of that… 🙂

    I heard about that – somebody mentioned this too in an earlier comment, I think. Never tried but somebody did comment on Facebook that she does not like nian gao with yam. To each his/her own, I guess.

  14. Yeah, we always chuck the nian gaos into the fridge to let them harden before cutting, else the mess would be unimaginable. But I haven’t have them for quite some time now. Mom thinks this delicacy is basically glutinous rice and sugar overload, so she doesn’t prepare them anymore. 😦

    Oh, so keeping them in the fridge does make them hard and easier to cut? I wouldn’t know. Never bought or had them before though I do remember my mum cutting it with a thread.

  15. yum, have always loved niao gao, especially those freshly deep fried. crispy on the outside, with sweet flowing nian gao inside.. yummmmmm

    Gotta cut down now, older already…don’t take too much of things that are way too sweet.

  16. enjoyed reading about your love-hate relationship with nian gao … for me, it’s always been hate … but my family loves it, heheh 😀

    Try it wrapped in popiah skin – it may just change your mind. 😀

  17. so, got a cut from your ong mali durian runtuh ka? u berry the cleber, can hint wink for the next cny ningao… hahaha…

    HINT…HINT…HINT…WINK…WINK…WINK!!! Muahahahahahaha!!!!! 😀 😀 😀

    1. Be careful, u dun want to be the first to have eye-cramp! Kul-sbw rm97 oneway

      SIGHHHHHHHH!!!! That Indian, always bully Sibu people one, the Tony guy! 😦

  18. I wink wink hint hint nian kao and baby springroll also did arrive! maybe now i should hint hint wink wink at those big prawns and petai

    Wink and hint harder…maybe you’ll get that too from the same place that you got the nian gao and meat floss rolls from. Hehehehehe!!!!

  19. liddat i also wanna hint hint wink wink…big prawns and sio bee

    Perishables, can’t send via poslaju or courier. You’ll have to come over if you want any…all right here waiting!!!

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