Auspicious New Year Dish – Braised Crab and Rice Cakes

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
January 26, 2017Food

Sticky Rice Cake (Nian Gao), sometimes translated as “year cake” or “Chinese New Year’s cake”, is a food prepared from glutinous rice. While it can be eaten all year round, traditionally it is most popular during Chinese New Year.

It is considered good luck to eat nian gao during this time, because nian gao is a homonym for “higher year.” The Chinese word 粘 (nián), meaning “sticky”, is identical in sound to 年, meaning “year”, and the word 糕 (gāo), meaning “cake” is identical in sound to 高, meaning “high or tall”. As such, Chinese people believe that eating nian gao has the symbolism of raising oneself taller in each coming year.


Braised Crab and Rice Cakes Ingredients:

  • Crab
  • Rice cake, sliced
  • Scallion, diced
  • Ginger, sliced
  • Garlic, sliced
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Chinese cooking wine
  • Soup stock
  • Starch

Braised Crab and Rice Cakes Directions:

  1. Cut the crab into big chunks, and then coat the cut side of the crab with a thin layer of starch.
  2. Heat up the oil to 100 degrees (212 °F) and deep fry crab and rice cakes for 1 minute.  Remove from the pan, wait a few minutes, then fry a second time and set aside.
  3. Stir-fry ginger, garlic, scallion, and a drizzle of hoisin sauce.
  4. Pour in Chinese cooking wine and soup stock, re-add the crab and rice cakes to the pan, cover with lid and turn up the heat. Braise for 6 minutes.
  5. Add starch on top of crab and rice cakes to achieve desired consistency, then add salt and soy sauce to taste.
  6. Garnish with green part of the scallion.

Bonus Dish:


Let’s not waste the crab shells. Add a fresh egg and some soup stock into the shell and steam until done. This combines the flavors of crab with egg. The egg absorbs the umami taste of the crab. Sprinkle some scallion, chili pepper and minced garlic onto the egg. Drip some hot oil over the top.

The texture is smooth and silky, the taste is exquisite.

And there you have just completed another tasty dish:

Steamed Egg in Crab Shell.


Braised Crab and Rice Cakes Tips:

This dish resembles the cooking style of Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.But Chef Luo also made use of the Shun-de style in making this dish.


During the frying process, to prevent the crab meat and juice from seeping out, Chef Luo coated the cut side of the crabs with a thin layer of starch. It acts as a crust. When the starch is heated, it acts as a barrier to keep the juices and moisture in the meat.

All the preparation is to ensure the food ingredients remain in their prime condition so that the best taste could be brought out.

Heat up the oil to about 100 degrees (212 °F). Nian gao needs to be fried until the surface is crispy. The crabs should be fried until brown.

Huangjiu, or Chinese yellow wine, is the most important ingredient.


Crabs are very flavorful by themselves, so you only need to add a little bit of condiments to enhance the original flavors of the ingredients.

The “xian” or umami flavor you mix yourself is different from the natural umami of crabs.

The difference between these flavors is significant. If you add too much mixed umami condiment, you are ruining the natural flavors of crabs. The natural flavors are overpowered by artificial flavors.


Keep tossing the wok. This ensures the crabs are cooked evenly.