Local Moco: New Year’s Gau
Gau, or Chinese new year mochi, is a staple at annual events like the annual Chinese New Year celebration at Hawaii’s Plantation Village.
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Explore Hawaii’s wealth of New Year traditions at Hawaii’s Plantation Village on Saturday, when the village will celebrate the Year of the Pig (or Boar). There’s free admission to the museum houses, where you can sample ethnic foods, learn games of the plantation era, enjoy cultural entertainment and purchase crafts and ethnic dishes to take home.
The event runs 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the village, 94-695 Waipahu St. Call 677-0110.
Village staffer Steven Pang makes gau, the classic Chinese new year mochi, for the annual event. In fact, he’s been making gau for more than 30 years, using an adapted recipe of one included in a village cookbook.
Pang grew up on land that is now part of the village, and his parents, Joe and Marjorie Pang, were instrumental in producing the tour of the area that’s still used today.
He recalls helping his mother steam gau in a large wok over a wood fire, a project that required keeping the fire going “good and strong” for more than eight hours, and adding boiling water to the wok through the process.
“Thank goodness for propane now,” said Pang.
A gau’s round shape is said to symbolize reunion of family, and its stickiness, cohesiveness of family. The dessert’s sweet flavor represents the sweetness of life, and sesame seed topping the blessing of many children.
NEW YEAR’S GAU
Adapted from a recipe by Eleanor Tom Sun
- 4-3/4 cups water (or more)
- 3-1/2 cups dark brown sugar
- 2 pounds mochi flour (available in Asian food aisles in supermarkets)
- 3 tablespoons oil
- Ti leaves, oiled (eliminate this step by coating pans with cooking oil spray)
- 1 Chinese red date
- Sesame seeds
In pot over low heat, stir water and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and cool.
Place mochi flour in bowl. Add sugar liquid gradually and mix well. Add oil and mix well.
Pour mixture into a pan or oven-safe glass dish coated with cooking oil spray (or lined with oiled ti leaves).
Place in steamer. Steam 3 hours.
When gau is done, drain off any water from the top; place 1 red date in the center and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Makes 1 gau.
Nutritional information unavailable.