How to prepare: Nian Gao (tikoy), a Chinese New Year tradition

How to prepare: Nian Gao (tikoy), a Chinese New Year tradition |

Known as tikoy in the Philippines, nian gao is a traditional Chinese New Year dish. Why it is so has many aspects. One account has it that it is an offering to bribe the Kitchen God (a reference in Amy Tan’s The Kitchen God’s Wife) who reports everyone’s behavior to the Jade Emperor. Another interpretation is that “nian gao is a homonym for ‘every year higher and higher’.”

Nian gao is made with glutinous rice flour, sometimes steamed and, at other times, cooked in a pan and stirred until thick. It may be savory or sweetened. How it is served varies from region to region. It may simply be pan fried, stir fried with meat and vegetables, dropped into soups or made into a pudding. Nian Gao (tikoy), a Chinese New Year tradition

Take a sharp knife, position on top of the nian gao and press down. Don’t cut using the sawing motion; otherwise, the cake will stick to the metal. The ideal thickness is 1/4 to 1/2 inch.

Dip each piece of rice cake in beaten egg. Nian Gao (tikoy), a Chinese New Year tradition

Fry the nian gao in batches. The temperature of the oil should be somewhere between medium and low. What you are aiming for is to allow the rice cakes to soften in the heat before the egg darkens too much.

Flip the nian gao to brown the other side.

Drain the cooked nian gao on paper towels and serve immediately. If you cooked them correctly, the rice cakes should be soft and sticky while the outside is golden brown and crisp.


  1. A says

    Some Hokkien Chinoys also wrap strips of tikoy with banana or langka to make turon. The result is gooey on the inside and crisp on the outside.

    BTW, have you ever tried fresh tikoy? The kind that had just popped out of the factory steamer, still piping hot, and fudge soft? No need for frying, and very comforting :p

  2. u8mypinkcookies says

    I heard about those who cook tikoy wrapped in lumpia wrapper w/ langka.. turon- style! Sounds so yumm…

    I’m not so fond of tikoy dipped in egg then fried. I t=prefer the ready to eat tikoy rolls w/ peanut or red bean filling.. and hopia of course! :D

  3. emyM says

    Thanks A for sharing the other method of cooking turon.I love tikoy & glad it’s available
    here even if it’s not Chinese new year.They even
    have tikoy with red beans.
    Is the fresh tikoy like palitaw?

  4. A says

    Miss Connie: I have a friend who does tikoy for business. She makes fresh tikoy for herself and guests… :p However, I read your Wikihow link for tikoy. The recipe is pretty good, so you can try that. It’s actually very easy. When you make it though, and you let it air dry, in one or two days it will turn into the commercial tikoy we’re all familiar with (hard and waxy looking)–you can give it out as gifts, vacuum packed or with cling film. Adding dallops of peanut butter, or sweetened monggo will make it extra special. Some flavour it with pandan or strawberry. Fancy Chinese restaurants (such as the Inquirer link u gave) sell fresh tikoy, but it’s not worth your money.

    If you’re on a low-fat diet, the recipe is good because it requires no egg or frying.

    Miss (?) EmyM: Fresh tikoy is very sticky. Like “kulangot ng intsik” from Baguio, but not as sweet, and very warm.

    Miss Connie’s link on tikoy is good. If you have Chinese guests or would like to impress, line the bottom of the pan with dried or glazed fruits — dates, cherries, raisins, dried cranberries, nuts, etc–in a decorative manner. When the tikoy is inverted, it will look very good. Eight different types of nuts and dried fruits are traditional.

  5. florisa says

    the freshly made tikoy are more like kalamay. southern talagogs has it. difference is kalamay is not steamed, they are cooked like halayang ube. sweet and gooey.

  6. Sharon says

    My family has a deep liking for tikoy! We look forward to chinese new year so we’re able to stock up on tikoy. We cook ours quite sinful really. We add a thin slice of cheddar cheese to the tikoy as it’s coated with egg and friend. When about to be eaten, we smear butter then dredge it with condensed milk. The calories are deadly but we never seem to care when it comes to eating tikoy. Try it…it’s so delish!