Sunday, March 08, 2009

煎年糕 - Fried Rice Cake from Chinese New Year

Every year after the Chinese New Year period, there will be a lot of Rice Cakes (nian gao), i.e. 年糕, and we always look forward to eating the fried rice cakes. Rice cakes or 年糕 are typically served during Chinese New Year because it symbolises good luck for the new year due to the phonetic resemblance to the phrase '年年高升'. Traditionally the sweet rice cakes is also served as a worship item to the Kitchen God during the eve of the Chinese New Year, since the sweet sticky paste will stick to the mouth of the Kitchen God, and thus when he reports about that particular household activities for the whole year, only sweet things will be said.

For fried rice cakes, we have to wait for weeks before the rice cakes hardened sufficiently to be fried. Here's a picture of these rice cakes, properly cleaned and dried.

Well to fry them, we need to cut them into smaller pieces of about 5cm by 3 cm. The thickness of the rice cake pieces is up to individual preferences I guess, but try to keep it to about 1cm thick.

Eating fried rice cakes plainly is not as fun, and many people will also add in sweet potato and / or yam slices to give the dish the crunchiness feel as well as lessening the sweetness of the rice cakes. Sweet potatoes are root vegetables, and they need to be cleaned thoroughly before cutting them into pieces of similar size with the cut rice cakes.

The cut rice cakes and sweet potato pieces are dipped in flour batter so that they will stick together when fried. Slight coating of the batter will do or else the flour batter becomes a thick outer crust that spoils the taste of the dish.

Viola, now the pieces are ready to be fried! Those who have rice cakes at home, do give this dish a try. The dish is quite filing though, and best serve with chinese tea or other drinks to 'wash' away the oiliness.

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