Niangao 年糕


Chinese Name: 年糕

English Name: Niangao; New Year’s cake

Category: Snack小吃

Main Ingredients: Glutinous rice

Niangao 年糕

Niangao年糕 is a traditional food of the Han nationality in China, which belongs to the seasonal food of the Lunar New Year农历新年. New Year cake is a kind of cake made of rice or glutinous rice. It is customary to eat New Year’s cake in many areas of China during the Spring Festival春节.

The rice cake has red, yellow, and white colors, which symbolize gold and silver. It is also called “Nian Nian Cake年年糕”, which is homophonic to “Nian Nian high年年高”, implying that the height of children is higher every year.

Niangao 年糕
Rice cakes of different colors

It is said that the rice cakes were delivered from the capital of Wu (now Suzhou, Jiangsu Province) during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period春秋战国时期 in all directions. There is a folk saying in Ningbo宁波 that “New Year cake is higher every year, and this year is better than last year年糕年糕年年高,今年更比去年好”. People also use the printing plate of rice cakes to press into the shapes of “five blessings五福”, “six treasures六宝”, “money金钱”, “luck如意”, etc., symbolizing “good luck吉祥如意” and “great luck大吉大利”; Some are made into small animals such as “Jade Rabbit玉兔” and “White Goose白鹅”, forming a perfect combination of content and form in the real sense.

In 1974, archaeologists found plump and well-preserved rice seeds in the Hemudu prehistoric site in Yuyao, Ningbo, Zhejiang, more than 7000 years ago, which shows that our ancestors began to plant rice as early as 7000 years ago. Cicheng慈城 New Year Cake has a long history, with history of thousands of years.

Niangao 年糕
Purple potato flavored cheese rice cake

The eating methods of Ningbo Cicheng New Year Cake include boiling, frying, frying, slice frying, soup boiling, etc. It is both salty and sweet. For example sugar fried rice cakes. As the folk saying goes, “When sugar is fried, oil is fried, and you eat it, you will have big bubbles in your mouth糖炒炒,油爆爆,吃得嘴角生大泡”. Another example: is Shepherd’s purse New Year cake. As the folk proverb goes, “The rice cake is fried with shepherd’s purse and shredded pork荠菜肉丝炒年糕”,灶君菩萨伸手捞”. There is also a New Year cake in chicken soup. The soup is very delicious, and it is an essential food for every family on New Year’s Eve.

There are many cooking methods for New Year cakes, and there are always dozens of them. In the past, the storage conditions were not good, so many residents cut the cakes and dried them in the sun. When eating, they can soak them for two days. There are also people who can keep rice cakes fresh for months by soaking a lot of rice cakes in water. China has a wide territory, different customs and habits, and a variety of new types of rice cakes.

Niangao 年糕
Yellow croaker and rice cake

Yiyang弋阳 New Year Cake, also known as “Yiyang Dahe Rice Cake弋阳大禾米粿”, is a national geographical indication protection product. Yiyang New Year Cake is made of Yiyang Dahe millet by the unique process of “three steaming and two hundred hammers三蒸两百锤”. It is “as white as cream, transparent as jade, soft and smooth, tough but not sticky, and can be steamed, fried and boiled for a long time”. It is a traditional treasure with convenient eating and unique flavor. Yiyang New Year Cake was made in the Tang Dynasty and has a history of more than 1200 years.

Niangao 年糕
Delicious fried rice cake

New Year cakes are mostly made of glutinous rice flour, and glutinous rice is a specialty of Jiangnan. In the north, sticky grains like glutinous rice are the first in ancient times. This husked milled millet, steamed with water, is yellow, sticky, and sweet. It is a good harvest food for people in the Yellow River basin. An article titled “A Brief View of the Imperial Capital帝京景物略” printed during Chongzhen’s reign of the Ming Dynasty明朝 records that at that time, people in Beijing “ate rice cakes on the New Year’s Day of the first month正月元旦,啖黍糕,曰年年糕”.

An experienced rice cake chef said that the most important thing to make a good rice cake is to pay attention to the use of water and oil. In addition, whether the glutinous rice flour is pure is also very important. Generally, the glutinous rice flour bought in the market is not pure, so it is not soft enough to eat. New Year Cake should be made directly from glutinous rice to keep its purity and original flavor.

How to make Niangao?


  • 1000g glutinous rice
  • 250g japonica rice
  • 50g lard
  • 50g white sugar
  • 50g osmanthus paste
  • A little peanut oil
Niangao 年糕
Fried New Year cake


  • Step 1, Wash and soak 1000g glutinous rice and 250g japonica rice, then add water to grind them into a paste and put them into a cloth bag to dry the water.
  • Step 2, Add 50g lard, sugar and osmanthus paste into the bowl and mix well.
  • Step 3, Brush peanut oil on the square plate, put the stirred dough into the plate, and spread it flat, steam it on the drawer for about 30 minutes, and then it will be cooked.
  • Step 4, After the dough cools, cut it into cubes, then put it into a peanut oil pan and fry it thoroughly over medium heat.
Niangao 年糕
Rice cakes sprinkled with sugar

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