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Nian Gao “Onde-Onde”

Nian Gao in Grated Coconut Recipe

“Nian Gao” or Chinese New Year Cake is an auspicious festive food. The Chinese word “nian gao” 年糕 sounds like “higher year” so it signifies greater success in the coming year. The stickiness also represents family togetherness and closeness. Serve this snack with Chinese tea to aid digestion as nian gao is sticky and filling.


  • 150 grams refrigerated nian gao 年糕 (tikoy) cut to even-sized small cubes
  • 3 tbsp grated (desiccated) coconut or just enough to cover 1 cm of the plate
  • a small pinch of salt
  • cut banana leaf squares for better presentation; optional


  1. Combine grated coconut and salt in a plate. Roll nian gao cubes in the grated coconut and arrange one layer without overlapping each other.
  2. Steam at high heat for about 8 minutes. Use a pair of tongs to roll each nian gao piece in the remaining grated coconut until evenly coated. For better presentation, place each piece on a cut banana leaf. Serve with Chinese tea.

Noob Cook Tips:

  1. For ease of cutting the nian gao, refrigerate it overnight. The hardened nian gao will be much easier to cut than when it is soft and sticky.
  2. The amount of grated coconut in this recipe is indicative. You can basically eye-ball the quantity by making sure that it covers the entire plate by 1 cm.
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9 comments on “Nian Gao “Onde-Onde””

  1. Cute and yummy treat!

  2. Oh that’s an interesting experiment with nian gao! We have plenty leftover and while I love the fried eggy version, this sounds like a great alternative. Plus here in N California, it’s hard to find onde onde! So any form of substitute works too. Thanks for the great idea.

  3. yum!! Those look amazing.. so soft and sweet

  4. Hi! I like this although fresh coconut would taste better than the dry dessicated type. I used to eat nian gao this way when I was young!

  5. It also looks like those Nonya kueh – tapioca kueh in grated coconut! I like all those kuehs and you have a creative way to make some using nian gao!

  6. I loved this way of eating nian gao too. If we make our own nian gao, it is very soft on the first day so I can just slice it and coat it with ground peanuts + sesame seeds and eat it.

  7. What a creative creation. :) Very good use to Nian gao and transform them to another treat. Yeah, I think you’re right. Freshly grated coconut sounds good and easier to roll here. :) Too bad I don’t have any Nian Gao left overs, otherwise I would definitely make these.

  8. This looks like a great sweet treat! Sounds lovely with freshly grated coconut too.

  9. Oh my! This is absolutely delicious!

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