Saturday, 25 January 2020

Cake fit only for kitchen god

Look at this sticky mess... I was trying to replicate the panfried nian gao (年 糕 or New Year cake) of childhood -- slices of nian gao dipped in beaten egg and fried.  But the nian gao sold these days are only meant for the kitchen god -- so awfully sticky and sweeeeeeeeeet.

It will definitely seal his mouth when he reports to the jade emperor of any misdoings of this household. His ascent from your stove to heaven is supposed to take place a week before the Chinese New Year -- according to Chinese beliefs of olden days. But it is definitely not for human consumption, not when health gurus are advocating zero sugar consumption. Whatever, it is way too sticky and sweet for my liking.

When we were kids, mum would fry nian gao on the first day of the Chinese New Year for our breakfast.  It was the highlight of the day. All members of the family would be wrapped in utter bliss till lunch, when more bliss followed as the bak-cham gai (Cantonese for poached chicken) literally flew from the kitchen to the table -- with whoever carrying the dish running at top speed.

The nian gao of those days wasn't at all sticky, as you can cleanly slice them into neat pieces. And they were not overly sweet. So what's with the modern day nian gao which was impossible to cut -- and eat? All I can say, in Cantonese, is: "Chay, deow jaw ker!" Which means "shucks, throw it away!"