The Happy Home Cook: How to Prepare Tikoy or Nian Gao for Chinese New Year: The Year of the Rooster 2017

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Tikoy  (Photo by Besa-Quirino, LLC ©)

Tikoy (Photo by Besa-Quirino, LLC ©)

In the Philippines, it wasn't Chinese New Year if we didn't have tikoy at home. Friends from the Chinese community often gifted our family with this sticky rice cake.

Tikoy (say 'tee-koy') is a steamed rice cake consisting of glutinous rice flour, lard, water, molasses and brown sugar. It is also known as "Nian Gao" in Cantonese, a homonym for the phrase "higher year". A whole tikoy rice cake can be purchased in Chinatown, Asian groceries and even online sources.

In the Philippines, an entire steamed cake is given as a gift for the Lunar New Year to symbolize prosperity and good luck. When our family receives it, I know it is already pre-cooked. So I coat the slices in egg and pan-fry to soften it up. Each warm slice gets crisp on the outside and sticky soft inside. The yellow coating of the eggs are close in color to 'gold', a symbol of prosperity. The chewy, gummy consistency of the tikoy rice cake are supposed to make sure the luck 'sticks.


1 large Chinese Sticky Rice Cake or Tikoy, about 8 ounces, sliced in 2-inch length strips

2 to 3 whole eggs, beaten, for coating tikoy slices

¼ cup vegetable or corn oil, for pan frying


  • Pre-grease with cooking spray a large, sharp knife and the cutting board for slicing the tikoy. Peel off the wrappers from the tikoy. On the cutting board, slice the tikoy rice cake in thin strips, about 2-inch in length.

  • In a medium sized bowl with the beaten eggs, soak the tikoy strips. Make sure tikoy is coated evenly with the egg.

  • Over medium high heat, add the cooking oil to the large skillet or frying pan. After 2 minutes when oil is hot enough, pan fry the tikoy slices dipped in egg. Cook the egg-covered tikoy slices for a minute or two on each side to firm up to a crisp. Remove from the skillet and drain on paper towels or parchment paper to remove the excess oil.

  • Serve the slices warm with piping-hot tea. These are good as a snack, dessert or side.

Fried tikoy slices  (Photo by Besa-Quirino, LLC ©)

Fried tikoy slices (Photo by Besa-Quirino, LLC ©)

Elizabeth Ann Quirino

Elizabeth Ann Quirino

Elizabeth Ann Quirino, based in New Jersey is a journalist and author of the “How to Cook Philippine Desserts: Cakes and Snacks” Cookbook. She is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and blogs about Filipino home cooking on her site

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