Sink your teeth in these crispy festive sweet treats, you won’t stop after one for the gooey-ness

Quick question, what are the sweet things that come to your mind during Chinese New Year? If tangerines, and Nian Gao (sweet sticky rice cake) popped up, then we have a match!✨

Today’s recipe is a modern twist to the deep fried Lotus Root Nian Gao my late 啊嬷 (grandma) used to make for our reunion dinner. This oven-baked crispy crumbed lotus root lend a striking contrast to the melted traditional sweet sticky rice cake. With a sparing swirl of tangerine glaze over them, it gives a desired citrusy flavour for this festive occasion! For a festive gathering with Asian relatives who are obsessed with auspicious symbolisms, the snack holds a few homonyms you can share with them, it will warrant their desire to have more.

  • Tangerines: Wealth, good fortune, and abundant happiness

  • Lotus root: Abundance, the holes represents a mind open to new ideas

  • Nian Gao (sticky rice cake): Increasing prosperity

Now you know what I mean? 😏

This is the first Chinese New Year without my late grandma around, and it wouldn’t be the same as before. I believe in preserving her recipes to reminisce the fond memories we shared together and to leave a trace of her during this occasion.

The traditional version of her Lotus Root Nian Gao consisted of a thick slice of Nian Gao sandwiched between lotus root or any other root vegetables like sweet potatoes and yam, coated them in a thick batter and deep fried till golden brown. The first bite was crispy on the outside, delicate on the inside, and you got the “mozzarella pull” from the melted, and gooey Nian Gao. Usually I stopped after one, satiated by its richness and oiliness that I knew one was enough. Anything more will be less of an indulgence.


In this space where I am constantly exploring for ways to eat better without compromising the goodness, less oil was used. Both Lotus Root and Nian Gao are sliced about 1 cm each, dipped in a well-beaten egg wash, coated with panko crumbs, brushed with remaining egg wash and baked on a melted ghee base. While you’re waiting, brew a pot of osmanthus tea. Once they are pipping hot from the oven, quickly swirl a wee amount of citrus glaze on the Nian Gao, take a careful bite and a sip of aromatic osmanthus tea!

What is ghee?

  • Ghee is typically made from cow’s milk. It is a highly clarified butter melted from regular butter. When butter is melted, it separates milk solids and liquid fats. Ghee only contains liquid fats as milk solids are removed.

  • Ghee contains lower levels of dairy proteins such as lactose and casein, which may be suitable and better for individuals who are intolerant to lactose and casein. They may use it as a substitute for butter.

  • The nutrient profile of ghee and butter are similar as they are byproducts of cow’s milk. They contain saturated fats, which a moderate amount is still essential for a healthful diet.



Quantity: 22 pieces

Preparation Time: 10 mins

Cooking Time: 40 mins

Difficulty: 4/10

Diet Notes: Vegetarian


  • Choose lotus root that has a firm texture. Cook within one week of purchase.

  • Rinse lotus root with cold water and tangerine thoroughly.

  • Use one hand to dip lotus root nian gao sandwiches in the egg wash and use the other hand to coat it with panko crumbs.

  • Store in an airtight container and refrigerate lotus root nian gao sandwiches up to 3 days. Be sure to reheat and eat when its hot.

  • You can substitute eggs wash with melted butter, ghee, or olive oil.


  • 300g lotus root, peeled, chopped in 1 cm circles for 22 pieces

  • 300g store bought New Year Nian Gao (wrapped in banana leaves), sliced in 11 squares, approximately 5 cm each.

  • 1 cup panko crumbs (Fry top)

  • ¼ cup plain flour

  • 2 cage-free eggs, beaten

  • 1½ tsp ghee (House brand)


  • 1 mini tangerine, washed thoroughly and peeled

  • 1 tsp mandarin orange rind

  • 5 tbsp powdered sugar (icing sugar)


  • Sieve

  • Baking Sheet

  • Basting Brush

  • Vegetable Peeler

  • Cleaver

  • Kitchen Towel

  • Whisk

ADDITIONAL (optional)

  • 1 litre osmanthus tea (consists of 2 tbsp dried osmanthus from Hock Hua Tonic)


  • Turn on oven to 180°C at upper and lower heat setting. Lay baking sheet on the tray and brush ghee over the surface.

  • Arrange lotus root slices on kitchen towels to pat them dry on both sides. Pour plain flour into sieve and lightly dust over one side of lotus root only. Turn over lotus root to the un-dusted side facing up.

  • Place nian gao on 11 pieces of the un-dusted side of lotus root, and cover with remaining lotus root, with the dusted side facing up. Dip each sandwich into egg wash, followed by panko crumbs. Gently shake excess crumbs and lay them on the baking sheet, with minimal space in between.

  • Brush remaining egg wash on top of the sandwiches. Bake for 40 minutes. Then, bake for another 10 minutes at the upper heat setting. Slice each sandwich into half.

  • For the tangerine glaze, squeeze tangerine juice in a bowl. Remove seeds, and add powdered sugar. Whisk till a smooth flowing consistency. Grate 1 tsp tangerine rind and add into the mixture. Give a quick stir, drizzle a desired amount on the lotus root nian gao sandwiches. Enjoy with a pot of osmanthus tea.

Lots of love,