Nian Gao How chinese New Year's Cakes are made

In 1999, I was living at a school just outside Taizhou, a small town in Zhejiang province.

This little shack sold sundries and snacks for the school. They made very tasty pork baozi.

In January, it turned into...

No, it didn't go monochrome -- they built a little factory to make glutinous rice cakes for the new year called nian gao.

They're not so much cakes, but gooey cylinders that get sliced and fried up

Shanghai chao nian gao -- ironically it's gluten free!

Local farmers bring rice to the factory where it's milled into flour

They use short grain rice because it has more starch

It's finely milled

And mixed with a bit of water

It's put into barrels with woven bottoms

The flour gets steamed

The steam comes from tanks over a coal fire

Once it's steamed, it goes into a trough

Broken up, 

And fed into a tube where it's cut into 9" lengths

Smoking helps pass the time

The cakes are splashed with water to cool

Then layed out to dry

While they're drying, majiang!

When they're dry, they put them in baskets and take them away

Pedi-cabs stand by to take them into town

Created By
Corey Frey


All photos by Corey Frey