When I first moved to New York, for the first few years, it would always be my own tradition to make taro cake and Chinese New Year cake (sticky and subtly sweet nian gao) at home and share with friends. For the last two years, I have slacked off, and I decided to recommence this tradition this year. I began the process yesterday night, soaking shiitake mushrooms and dried scallops, boiling Chinese sausage and bacon, and simmering taro root, and today, I finished my taro cake.
When I think of Chinese New Year traditions, I always think of my grandma and how she used to make all of these treats for us once a year, every year, to mark the beginning of the new year that mattered to her. She never used a recipe and did everything from her head or by touching, feeling, and smelling. I don’t recall her ever even being the type to taste test her food to adjust for seasoning. It always came out perfectly.
Ed didn’t care for New Year’s cake much, but he did like taro cake, as well as the other fried New Year’s delights, because who can reject something that is deliciously fried to perfection? Bart will get a bite of this cake tomorrow.