There is an article in The Star today about this Indian man who produce steamed nien gao for export to Singapore and Brunei. Bravo to him. As far as I know, people have to stick to a lot of pantangs (taboos) when steaming nien gao. During the steaming process, we little kids are not allowed to ask when it will be ready because if we do, they said it will never be cooked.
Once, a family wearing black mourning clothes passed by my kampung while the old lady from my neighbour’s house was steaming nien gao. The old lady had to mix a mixture of rice and salt and throw it all around the nien gao’s stove and uttered something to shoo away the bad luck.
Such are the touchy-touchy nien gao taboos.
Usually, the nien gao gets hardened after a week or two of steaming. However, we can cut them into smaller pieces and steam again. I added a pinch of salt to fresh grated coconut and rolled the pieces in them.
It makes a nice sweet treat. One cannot eat too many pieces because it is very sticky, sweet and the glutinious rice fills you up fast.