Chinese New Year's Cake
Chinese New Year traditionally runs for 15 days. Today it is usually
observed for 3 or 4 days. Friends of mine, Jimmy and Ling Ling Wang,
invited me to celebrate each year with them.
This New Year's Cake, is the most important cake eaten on New Year's
. The egg-dipped, pan-fried slices have a gentle sweetness and are
slightly chewy from glutinous rice flour.
Brown candy (Peen Tong) is a kind of sugar that is sold by the slab
in 1-pound packages and may also available loose in bins in some
Chinese markets. The slabs are about 5 inches long, 1 1/4 inches
wide, and 1/2 inch thick. Scraping the sugar, the traditional
method, is very difficult so I recommend dissolving the slabs of
sugar in water, this may be less authentic but much easier to
prepare. Chef Louie, his Chinese name is much more difficult to
pronounce for most non-Chinese, always scraped the sugar but he was
a highly trained chef. The key here is to be sure to use glutinous
rice flour and not a regular rice flour!
4 ea Chinese Dried Red Dates
11 oz Peen Tong, brown candy
3 tsp Vegetable Oil
7 cups Glutinous Rice Flour
1 Tbl White Sesame Seeds
1 ea Large Egg
Vegetable Oil for wok
In a small bowl soak the red dates in 1/4 cup cold water for 30
minutes, or until softened. When softened, remove and discard the
Cut brown candy into small pieces. Place sugar in a bowl and pour 2
cups boiling water over the sugar, set aside until dissolved and
Grease an 8-inch round casserole dish, 4" deep with 2 teaspoons
Place the rice flour in a large mixing bowl making a well with the
flour. Stir in cold sugar water and knead the dough. Add an
additional 1/3 cup cold water to dough until it's smooth, slightly
moist, and shiny, this takes about 10 minutes. Place the dough in
the casserole dish and gently press it evenly into the dish .
Cut the dried dates in half and place them cut-side down evenly
covering the dough. Coat with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil then
sprinkle the top with sesame seeds.
In a covered steamer, large enough to fit the casserole dish without
touching the sides of the steamer, bring water to a boil. Place the
dish into the steamer and cover for 35 to 40 minutes. Keep an eye on
the water level and replenish when necessary with boiling water
only. When the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the
casserole dish it's done.
Remove the dish from the steamer and pour off any water on the
surface. Place on a rack and let cool, then loosely cover and let
set at room temperature for 24 hours.
Run a knife or icing spatula along the cake's edge to loosen from
the dish. The icing spatula is flexible enough to loosen the bottom
of the cake as well, otherwise, place a plate over the bowl and
invert to remove cake. Upright the cake onto a cutting board (or a
flat surface if you're not ready to eat it yet and plastic-wrap the
cake and refrigerate until ready to eat) and cut the cake in long 2"
wide strips. Turn the cake being sure to line up the cut strips
horizontally and cut across the cake strips about 3/8" but no wider
than 1/2". Batter cake using one large egg and beat until frothy
placing pieces of cake into the egg, coating evenly.
Heat your wok or skillet over medium heat and add just enough oil to
coat the wok. Cook the egg-coated cake pieces in small batches for 2
to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Best when served immediately