Niangao is a food prepared from glutinous rice and consumed in Zhejiang cuisine. Sharing a similar pronunciation to “higher year” in Chinese, this kind of food is considered to be propitious and lucky. Also known as a rice cake, this sticky sweet snack was believed to have been an offering to the Kitchen God, so that his mouth would be stuck with the sticky cake and he could not badmouth the human family in front of the Jade Emperor.

Fried Niangao

At the end of the year, people living in the rural area in Zhejiang make niangao in preparation for the New Year. The first step of making niangao is to mix the glutinous rice with ordinary rice in a special proportion. The larger the proportion of glutinous rice is, the stickier the niangao will be. Then wash the rice in flowing water and drain the rice when the rice slightly expands. Grind the rice into a powder and steam it in a big steam pot until the powder becomes a paste. Next the hot rice paste is placed in a big stone mortar, and traditionally the strongest men in the village smash it with a big heavy wooden hammer. This step is to make the niangao chewier. Finally the smashed niangao will be shaped into strip cakes.

Niangao Cooked in Ketchup

Niangao can be made into a variety of dishes. If you like it sweet, just steam some niangao and dip it in syrup. If you are a big fan of seafood, fried niangao with swimming crab is a must-try. Fried niangao with sauce is a common street snack. Stir-fried Niaogao slices are also a good option for lunch.