Ipohworld's World

Saving Yesterday For Tomorrow

I’m sure many of you can guess what this is :)

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Yes, these are cake pans used to make the famous Nian Gao – which is made from glutinous rice. While it can be eaten all year round, traditionally it is most popular during Chinese New Year. It is considered good luck to eat nian gao during this time, because nian gao is a homonym for “higher year.” This sticky sweet snack was believed to be an offering to the Kitchen God, with the aim that his mouth will be stuck with the sticky cake, so that he can’t badmouth the human family in front of the Jade Emperor.

Legends and myths aside, how do YOU enjoy Nian Gao? I like it sandwiched between two slices of yam, which is then dipped in batter and deep fried ;) (all this talk of food is making me hungry now)

  1. Ngai C O says:

    Hi felicia

    Of course we do now. You just told us. It is funny.

    How often do we make this at home now? I just wonder.

    My mum last made it roughly in 1980, take 5 years, 38 years ago, which is a long time depending on how one sees it.

    After that it was bought from the cottage industries, generosity of relatives, neighbours, friends and then from supermarket shelves, which churn by the millions every year.

    One can get this all year round. Hawkers in town sandwich it with either sweet potato or yam in deep fried fritters. I had it on many occassions last year from a stall in Canning Gardens.

    Something very Chinesey has taken to other races as I saw Malays purchasing them. Same thing with angpow. It also goes without saying that Kueh is typically Malay, I think.

    Some things easily cross cultures than others but it does not mean much beyond that.

  2. Ipoh Remembered says:

    …you know what this is?

    A drum-kit?

    famous Nian Gao – which is made from glutinous rice

    My favorite way to enjoy this rice was pulot panggang. Is this dish still available?

  3. Ipoh Remembered says:

    Dear Ngai C O

    Something very Chinesey has taken to other races as I saw Malays purchasing them. Same thing with angpow. It also goes without saying that Kueh is typically Malay, I think. Some things easily cross cultures than others but it does not mean much beyond that.

    I wonder about that.

    • Ngai C O says:

      Hi Ipoh Remembered

      A new musical invention like the Carribean drums made from 46 gallon oil drums.

      You just jogged my memory that my mother and most households were equally creative by using empty milk tins. These would be put away for the following year and the same after.

      I still have two in the fridge which I brought back from Malaysia last year. It is still good because of the preservative properties of the high sugar content.

      Pulut panggang is a staple like rice and will not go out of fashion. You see it sold everywhere from morning till night and in night markets. I would rather have it like you anytime than a Mars Bar r a Kit Kat.

      I am still scratching my head for the last 55 years and probably will take it to the next world. Of course I am older than the 55 bacause I took my ignorant years out before I could make any sense.

      What else can one pen about the tins apart from being used for making Nian Giao – one two liner. Period.

      But there is more and a time consuming and labourous task. Long, long time ago, one had to purchase the glutinous rice from the local sundry shop. Early in the morning, it would be taken to the wet market where it would be ground on a wet granite mill. I would leave the rest of the steps out.

      Don’t forget things could go wrong and one had to beg, borrow or steal for the New Year.

      • Ipoh Remembered says:

        Dear Ngai C O

        You just jogged my memory that my mother and most households were equally creative by using empty milk tins. These would be put away for the following year and the same after.

        Yes, this is something I noticed — the imaginative re-using — they call it “re-purposing” now, don’t they? — of many items that, in Western culture, are simply thrown away. I know it’s partly a function of poverty — one observes the same attitude in “developing” countries around the globe — but I don’t think poverty alone explains it. I suppose it would be interesting to know if Malaysians still re-use things as much as Malayans used to.

        I still have two in the fridge which I brought back from Malaysia last year. It is still good because of the preservative properties of the high sugar content.

        Sounds like condensed milk. Is it not available in shops where you live?

        Pulut panggang is a staple like rice and will not go out of fashion. You see it sold everywhere from morning till night and in night markets. I would rather have it like you anytime than a Mars Bar r a Kit Kat.

        Yes, cooked in a banana-leaf wrapper. Quite delicious. Have not had it in a very long time. Glad to know it’s still enjoyed by many.

        Do you remember a way of cooking rice (and perhaps other things) that involved the use of a short and split length of bamboo, perhaps wrapped in corn-husks? Is this method still used? What is it called?

  4. Ngai C O says:

    Hi Ipoh Remembered,

    Condensed milk is stocked in supermarket shelves where I am. It won’t die out yet but not an item one would find in the larder ever ready. I last bought it maybe 25 years ago. Younger generations probably do not know what it is.

    However in Malaysia, it is an essential ingredient in the Kopetiam white coffee, so millions of tins are used yearly.

    The older die hard generations are very clever to conserve and recycle things. One would be surprised how much one can save per year plus the fact less goes to the landfill. My youngest sister has never bought a black bin liner. Instead, she uses all sorts of bags to put the rubbish in. Although I am of this generation, I am not one of this brigade.

    The type of rice cooked in bamboo is called lemang.
    It is in the veins and so will live forever around South East Asian countries. The lining in the bamboo is banana leaf, the best compared to aluminium foil.

    Then you have the type of pyramid shaped rice wrapped in bamboo leaves.

    Both types of cooking use sticky glutinous rice, lemang is plain and the latter has a filling of pork, salted eggs, and lentils in general. The third version using bamboo leaves is plain and it is dipped into coconut syrup when eating, so sweet and savoury. It is yellowish in colour because of the added Kansui (potassium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate). It has a springy texture though.

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