Red Bean Chinese New Year Cake (Nian Gao)

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! Gung Hay Fat Choy!! It’s the year of the monkey, which happens to be my year too! I wish you all have great health and the best of luck on your future endeavours.

I wanted to make something to bring back home for Chinese New Year and was gluten free too.  I was thinking of what to make while grocery shopping at my local Asian Market and strolled upon prepackaged nian gao.  My mom would get this every year, cut it up in slices, and pan fry it for dessert.  However, it was always way too sweet and now that my parents are watching their sugar intake, I decided to make it with less sugar.  Every year we have nian gao, because in Cantonese it kind of sounds like “Every year you’ll soar,” whether it’s in fortune, your career, your goals, etc.

Our family has always loved red bean flavored things, so I looked up a basic recipe for nian gao and added a little twist to make it red bean flavored!  For the red beans, I was too lazy to cook the red beans and create a sweet soup for the nian gao.  So, I went to my local Asian market to pick up a small can of prepared whole red beans & a can of mashed red beans (not pictured below).  You can add less or more red beans if you’d like, that’s up to you!  Here are the ingredients:

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Ingredients:

1 cup & 1 tbsp dark brown sugar

1 1/2 cup water

1 lb of glutinous rice flour or 1 box of Koda sweet rice flour

2 tbsp of canola oil (or any mild flavored vegetable oil) & more to oil your springform pan

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1/4 cup of prepared whole red beans

~ 1/4 cup of mashed red beans (not pictured above)

 

Step 1:

Oil your springform pan with a little bit of oil, and cut pieces of parchment paper to cover bottom & sides. You can cut one long rectangle piece for the sides, and a circle for the bottom. (as shown in the above picture)  If you don’t have a springform pan, any pan will do, just make sure you oil and cover the pan with parchment paper.

Step 2:

Add ~ 2 inches of water to a large pot, and place your steamer rack and bring to a boil on medium-high heat.

Step 3:

Put 3/4 cup water and dark brown sugar in a large bowl and microwave in 1 minute intervals until sugar is all dissolved.  Stir in between the intervals.  I had to heat mine for 3 minutes (3 intervals).

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Step 4:

In a large bowl pour the brown sugar water, vanilla extract, 3/4 cup water, and oil & mix to combine.  Then add the rice flour and stir until it’s a smooth consistency.

 

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Step 5:

Next, add the prepared whole red beans and mashed red beans to the bowl.  Fold until red beans are all distributed throughout the mixture.  If your water in your pot is boiling, you can lower the heat to medium-low.

 

 

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Step 6:

Pour the mixture into your prepared springform pan (or any pan of your choice).  Lay a towel on the table then pick up your pan & let gravity bang it on the table.  Do this several times to get some of the air bubbles out of the mixture & to level it off.

 

 

Step 7:

Transfer the cake to your prepared steamer, the water should be boiling by now.  Steam your cake for roughly 1.5 hours.  You should check the water level in your pot constantly and refill it when necessary.  Also, try to avoid letting the condensation to drip on to the top of the cake.  In the beginning I kept opening the lid to check on the cake which dropped a lot of water on the top of the cake.  To take the water off, I just took a paper towel and dabbed the top of it gently.

Red Bean Nian Gao 40 minutes into steaming

 

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Red Bean Nian Gao done steaming

 

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Step 8:

When the red bean nian gao is done steaming, shut off the stove and remove the cake from the steamer.  Allow the cake to cool completely and cover it with plastic wrap to be served the next day.

 

 

 

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We just left it on the counter and wrapped it up in plastic wrap, because if we had put it in the fridge it would have been too hard.  However, with the left overs you should wrap it up and store in the fridge.  This can last for up to 1 week.

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My mom decided to cut the nian gao and pan fry it with a little bit of oil so it’s crispy on the outside & soft and chewy when you bite into it.  You can also do this to heat up your leftovers!

I enjoyed sharing a little bit of my culture and traditions with you guys & I hope you all enjoyed this recipe! I hope you all have a wonderful new year and great health 🙂

Feel free to leave a comment below, I would love to explore more recipes and check out more blogs!

 

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Coconut Green Tea Mochi Cake

Hi guys! This weekend my family was coming to visit me, so I decided to make coconut green tea mochi cake for them.  My family and I aren’t big on overly sweet desserts or snacks, so I thought this would be a great choice for them.

This recipe is entirely gluten free and isn’t overly sweet, so this can be a great alternative to cupcakes, cakes, or even donuts.  Mochi cake is made out of sweet rice flour (aka glutinous rice flour), so when it is baked or cooked it has a nice chewy soft consistency.  The mochi cake has a nice crispy crust on the outside and chewy on the inside, it’s a very fun texture to experience and not to mention it tastes very delicious!

The next time I make this cake, I believe I will be adding more coconut milk and cutting back on the evaporated milk because I didn’t really taste the coconut flavor.  The most wonderful thing of homemade foods, is that once you have a base recipe you can tweak it however you’d like it.  You can cut/ add more sugar, add more/remove different flavors, there are an infinite amount of possibilities.

Here are the ingredients!

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Ingredients:

1/2 box — 1 1/2 cup of Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour

1 cup of sugar

1 tsp baking powder

3 tsp matcha (green tea) powder

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 can — 7 oz  of nonfat coconut milk

1/2 can — 6 oz evaporated milk

1/2 stick melted butter (cooled)

2 1/2 eggs *

Tip – How to divide 1 egg: First crack an egg into a small shallow bowl and whisk until whites & yolk are combined.  Then use measuring spoons and measure how much is in egg, and do simple math to divide that in half.  1 large egg = ~ 3-4 tablespoons

Step 1:

Preheat oven to 350 F & grease or line your pan.  I used a 9 X 9 pan but you can use any, but you would just need to alter the cooking time.

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Step 2:

In a large bowl add all the dry ingredients together and use a whisk to combine; mochiko flour, sugar, matcha powder, baking powder, and salt.

 

 

 

 

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Step 3:

In a separate bowl add all the wet ingredients together and use a whisk to combine.  Beat eggs, add coconut milk, add evaporated milk, and melted butter.

Step 4:

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients slowly and whisk until it’s a well combined smooth consistency.

 

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Step 5:

Carefully pour your batter into your greased/ lined pan.  Gently wiggle it, to smooth out the mixture.

Step 6:

Bake in oven for approximately 50-60 minutes or when you poke a toothpick in the middle and it comes out clean.

 

 

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Step 7: 

Let cool for ~10-20 minutes…I couldn’t wait so after 5 minutes I cut it up into small pieces and ate almost 8 pieces, oops :p

I enjoyed eating these with some nice hot tea and binge watching suits on amazon prime. I hope you all enjoyed this recipe, please feel free to leave any comments/ recommendations down below and or follow me! 🙂  I’d love to explore more blogs and share my experience with more lovely people and bloggers.

Savory Chicken Oatmeal

Hello Everyone! Due to the blizzard of 2016 hitting the tri-state area, I decided to make something hot to defrost after hours of shoveling our driveway. This recipe idea originated from my mom because we loved eating rice porridge (jook in cantonese), however eating copious amounts of rice isn’t very healthy for you. So my mom substituted the rice with oatmeal instead while make us rice porridge for breakfast.

I have my own recipe for making chicken rice porridge, so I followed my mom’s idea.  Let me know down below if you’d like for me to share my rice porridge recipe with you guys!  I usually use Quaker old fashioned oats or gluten free oats, but I didn’t have any on hand and couldn’t make a quick run to the grocery store due to the blizzard.  Also, I linked my recipe for my chicken marinade recipe; check it out!

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Ingredients:

1 inch piece of ginger (sliced)

3 big cloves of garlic

1-2 marinated chicken breasts

1/2 large yellow onion

3 cups Irish oatmeal

4-6 cups of chicken broth

1 tsp white pepper (not pictured)

 

Step 1:

In a large pot, drizzle some olive oil on medium heat and add the onions.  Grind about 1 rotation of salt on the onions to bring out some of the moisture.  You just want to sweat the onions out a little bit.  Sautè them until they’re slightly translucent, roughly 5-7 minutes.

Tip – To peel ginger: instead of using a knife and wasting parts of the ginger OR using a peeler which can’t reach the hard crevices. Use a spoon!

  1. Hold the ginger firmly using your non dominate hand.  Have the concave part of the spoon facing the ginger.
  2. Then start scraping the skin from top to bottom

Step 2: 

Add ginger and garlic into the pot.  Sautè for about 5 minutes.  Let the onion, ginger, and garlic get to know each other and be friends so their flavors can meld together.

Step 3:

Add the Irish oatmeal to the pot, and mix until the oatmeal is covered and slightly toasted. Mix around for about 1-2 minutes.

Step 4:

Add the 4 cups of chicken broth to create a nice big swimming pool in the pot for all the ingredient flavors be friends.

Step 5: 

Turn the flame to high and stir the pot a few times. When it comes to a boil, lower to medium low flame. Keep the oatmeal to a light simmer for about 30 minutes. Careful it might boil over!

Tip – Prevent boiling over: 

  1. With a pair of wooden chopsticks, put one lying on the top left side of the pot and the other on the right. Then you can rest the lid on top of the chopsticks.
  2. With a wooden spoon, place that on the middle of the pot without the lid

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Step 6: 

If the oatmeal is too thick, you can continue to add more chicken stock.  Once the oatmeal has a nice milky and liquid consistency, bring up to a boil again.  Once it’s boiling, place the marinated sliced chicken in the oatmeal and stir to break up the chicken.  Bring up to boil again and serve.

20160119_194645Then you’re done! Serve this hot, and you can garnish with some chopped up green onions (scallions) if you’d like. I didn’t have any in my fridge today, but it’s my favorite topping, trust me it’s delightful! You can add a little bit of white pepper, I know some of my friends add a spritz of lemon to cut through the milky consistency of the oatmeal. The toppings and garnishes are limitless!

I hope you all enjoyed this quick and simple savory oatmeal recipe.  I prefer eating oatmeal this way better than the sweet version because this is what I’m used to and it prevents me from snacking or eating too much food.  This is a great way to curb your cravings, especially if you’d like to be healthy for the new year.  A great way to make this even healthier, is using reduced sodium chicken broth to reduce your sodium intake too!

Feel free to leave any comments or recommendations below! Happy cooking and stay warm! 🙂