Happy New Lunar Year of the Ox 🐮
The red lanterns are out, dragons dancing and lively fireworks light up the sky. It’s Lunar New Year, which happens between mid-January to mid-February. It marks the start of the spring season and the end of winter but an extremely important event. Think of Christmas in the western world, it’s celebrated with the same passion. The Lunar Year is celebrated for up to 16 days.
You might’ve come across a few ways of saying Happy New Year in Chinese: Xīn nián kuài lè (新年快樂), Gōng xǐ fā cái (Mandarin) or Gong Hey Fat Choy (Cantonese) 恭喜發財 which both means ‘Wishing you prosperity”.
Every family is different in the way they celebrate the new year, but the most common way is to spend time with your family and have a large feast! Most people in China are away from their family, often working and sending money to support their wider family. During the Lunar New Year, pretty much every business closes down so it's the only time to visit family. It's usually hectic and often compared to a 'mass migration' cross cities and towns - you'll want to avoid travelling around in this time! Another custom seen during this time is the gift of red envelopes called Hóng Bāo containing money. This is gifted from elders to children to pass on a year of good fortune. I have lots of memories getting red packets from my aunties and uncles as a child and thinking $5 was pretty generous back then!
It’s a bit quieter this year. My brother is currently living in Japan, and normally visits yearly with his family. Of course, COVID has put a spanner in the works so it's just my mum, my fiance and I having a nice lovingly cooked meal at home. Though I am living with mum at the moment and see her all the time (building a house is such A LONG process), she secretly loves it when I ask her to cook with me or do anything with me. She was so stoked to be a part of this blog and to try on some Hej Hej clothes. I think she looks rather chic in the 24/7 Shirt but she also looked amazing in the Proud as Punch Dress when she tried it on in store :)
Every year without fail, mum makes Nián Gāo (Year Cake), which is a sweet, mochi-like cake made out of glutinous rice flour, brown sugar and coconut milk. It's a super easy recipe to make, just mix it all together and pop in a steamer. There's lots of different variations you can make with it, such as adding red beans, red dates or venture out and add some shredded coconut.
Here's our Nián Gāo (Year Cake) recipe
375g Glutinonus Rice Flour
125g Rice Flour
100g Wheat Starch
500g brown sugar
1 can coconut milk
4 tablespoon neutral oil
- Combine flour and starch in a large bowl. Mix to combine.
- In a saucepan, melt sugar with the water and bring to a boil. Simmer then add coconut milk. Turn off heat and set aside.
- Slowly stir in the sugar syrup into the flour. It may start to stick to your spatula but keep adding in the sugar syrup, it will slowly get easier to mix
- Add oil into the mixture and stir to combine
- Oil a round baking mould - we used 20" silicone to make it easier to get out after cooking. Add mixture and fill 1cm away from the edge. Cover with tinfoil.
- Heat up your steamer until rolling boil. Add enough water to last for one hour. Once you see steam, place the cake into the rack and steam on for 1 hour.
- Turn off and leave cake to rest in the steamer for a couple minutes before taking out to cool.
- Enjoy as is, or pan fry the sides for a crispy crunch!
Hope you enjoy this and Gong Hey Fat Choy!
Enna and Linda xx
Follow Enna and Linda more for nostalgic food & cooking ~ @cookwithenna
Enna wears Proud as Punch Dress in Cherry