Home> Visiting>Dining

Taste of New Year: Square rice cakes

en.nantong.gov.cn Updated: 2024-01-25


Freshly-made square rice cakes at the workshop in Hai'an. [Photo provided to en.nantong.gov.cn]

The eighth day of 12th month of the Lunar Year, or the eighth day of Layue, marks the Laba Festival, which falls on Jan 18 this year. In China, there is a saying, "Right after Laba, the new year is on its way."

In Jiangsu's Nantong city, festive vibes waft from the fragrant steam of square rice cakes, a quintessential item for locals during the Spring Festival symbolizing prosperity in work and life.

At the square rice cake workshop in Hai'an, pastry chefs continue to employ traditional handicraft to make the delicacy, which is popular with both locals and visitors from other cities alike.


A pastry chef paints red four-petal flowers on freshly-made square rice cakes. [Photo provided to en.nantong.gov.cn]

The workshop currently processes over 2,500 kilograms of rice per day. According to Chen Zhufang, the workshop's manager, this figure will rise to 3,500 kg after the twentieth day of Layue. Speaking of why the rice cake is so delicious, she explained that the key lies in the quality of the rice.

The rice they use is grown in Lixiahe, and soak time and steaming temperature also play crucial roles in determining the delicacy's flavor. Prolonged soaking and high temperatures produce cakes that are challenging to shape.

Beyond its soft and delightful taste, the square rice cake carries a sense of nostalgia for locals. Grandma Zhu, a connoisseur of square rice cakes, said that as the Spring Festival is approaching and her children have come back from other cities, she faithfully comes to purchase rice cakes for them.