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We are all too familiar with the Chinese New Year menu: glutinous balls in soup (tangyuan); the sweet or savoury fried dumplings (gok zai); longevity noodles; coconut-coated jellies – it’s a time when traditions turn into tireless treats with which we entertain ourselves during the long hours of bouncing from one relative’s home to another. And the highlight, of course, is when the steaming dish of nian gao (or year cake) surfaces on the dining table, helmed with bits of golden egg, and with it the famous savoury radish cake speckled with delightful preserved sausages, dried scallop shreds, shrimps and mushrooms. Time for chopsticks go a fly.

Though they are not foreign to our CNY routine, how familiar are you with these cakes? Here are five facts we bet you didn't know:
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1. While you may be savvy to the widespread legend of the cannibalistic monster behind the Nian Gao, the sweet cake is actually also offered to the Kitchen God (Zao Jun or Zao Shen) a week before Chinese New Year as a bribe so he’ll sweet-talk about the family during his annual report to the Jade Emperor, who rewards or punishes each household according to this information.

2. Despite that Nian Gao is usually made with similar ingredients, customs vary in different parts of China: north China makes white rice cake; yellow rice cake is eaten in the Northern frontier of China; Southern China enjoys water-mill-made rice cake while Taiwanese prefer honguigao, or red turtle cake.
3. Though sugar is a must in Nian Gao, opting for brown over white sugar makes all the difference. city’super takes it to another level with real red date paste, Okinawa brown sugar and black glutinous rice.

4. The key to a perfect radish cake is the ratio of ingredients to flour. Too much turnip and condiments, the cake wil be soggy and overpacked; too much flour and the end-result will be too dry. We recommend to keep it at a good 6:4 ratio; 6 for ingredients, 4 for flour!
5. Originally called Chai Tow Kway in the city of Chiu Chow, turnip cake is eaten to symbolise the turn of a new (and better) leaf. As living conditions improved, chefs and homemakers started including prestigious ingredients like seafood and expensive meats. city’super keeps up the holiday spirit with a Hokkaido Scallop Radish Cake packed with Hokkaido conpoy, sakrua shrimps from Suruga Bay, Oita shiitake mushrooms and semi-lean Chinese sausage.
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Though mouth-watering, New Year cakes will definitely coat your palette with a layer of unwanted grease. Our advice? Wash it down with our reputable RingoWork Apple Juice (made with fresh Aomori fruits), Yokote Vinery Grape Juice (crafted with aged Osawa grapes for wine-like flavours) and Mikan juice (produced with Arita Mikan from the Sowa Fruit Farm).

From all of us at city’super, we wish you a prosperous Year of the Rooster!
Source of Images: city'super, 54613, jreika / Shutterstock.com
 
 
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