GF Vegan Chinese Sweet Stewed Rice Cake (ZhuNianGao, 煮年糕)

January 6, 2022
This stewed rice cake (or ZhuNianGao, 煮年糕) is a Chinese dessert traditionally prepared for the Spring Festival. Every family will make their own version of this dessert because it stands for a good harvest and health. As far as I know, some regions use this recipe as a soup, others like a dessert. Instead of goji berries, some use dried osmanthus flower. For this very reason I thought it makes a great new year's soup as well as a symbol of abundance and health.

You can make your own rice cakes or rice balls or use store bought as I did now, but I also provide you with the recipe for the home made rice balls.

For other versions you can add sweet potato or taro balls as well in the cooking water.
zhuniangao in a white dish on a wooden tray with a spoon

GF Vegan Chinese Sweet Stewed Rice Cake (ZhuNianGao, 煮年糕)

Recipe Type: Sweets
utensils YIELDS 2 servings
herb graphic for recipe card
  • 150 g rice cake slices
  • 15 g dried goji berries
  • 1–2 tbs white sugar
  • 2 x 160ml warm water
  • 200 g glutinous rice flour
        graphic for recipe card


To make your own rice cakes:

Pour 160ml warm water into glutinous rice flour, in the meantime, stir with chopsticks until large pea sized chunks form. Knead dough with your hand, add water if it’s too dry, add flour if too sticky, until a non stick, smooth dough forms.Pinch off dough and roll mini balls (any size you like in fact). Put in freezer if you can’t finish at once.

Pay attention to the amount of water when adding to glutinous rice flour. You should gradually add water when kneading the dough. If adding too much water can make the dough too thin; less with water can cause it no sticky.

For the sweet stew:

Bring the other 160ml  water to boil in a small saucepan, add rice cakes, keep stirring.
When all glutinous rice balls float to surface or the bigger rice cakes soften, switch to low heat, add in sugar, dried goji berries, simmer for about 2 min.

Serve hot, it’s gonna warm up your body, your heart, your soul.

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Photo: Imola Toth

Imola is a Hatha and Ashtanga yoga teacher, tree planter and writer and editor of Raised by the Wolf, an online magazine for Wild Women, with a passion for exploring and life outdoors. Originally from Hungary but currently planting trees and rewilding the enchanting forests of France. Hop over to RBTW magazine, and blog and follow her on Instagram @yogiraisedbythewolf


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