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Tikoy with Ube- Purple Yam Rice Cake for Lunar New Year

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I called my regular suki (favorite vendor) to purchase tikoy for the Lunar New Year. The Chinese store did not sell tikoy this year. So, I made my own Tikoy  with Ube- Purple Yam Rice Cake, from scratch — on the stove-top and in the Instant Pot multicooker.  I did not wish to turn away prosperity and good luck by not having the  steamed sticky rice cake in my home.

I have talked about tikoy, the steamed rice cake, traditionally cooked with brown sugar, flour and molasses so the usual ones are shiny brown round ones. In Mandarin tikoy is called ‘nian gao’. In Cantonese, it is called ‘nin kou’ according to my readers. In the Philippines, we’ve always called this steamed rice cake ‘tikoy’ and it has been a mainstay on our table every Chinese New Year for as long as I remember. While growing up in the Philippines, I noticed my parents often received a box of the light brown steamed rice cake as gifts from friends in the Chinese community. Tikoy is a symbol of prosperity. One always wanted good luck to “stick” to our lives, was how my parents explained tikoy to me then. And for friends to give us tikoy, it meant they were generously sharing with us an abundance of good luck and wishing us a prosperous year.

I am not an expert at astrological forecasts so I can’t tell you what lies ahead this year, but I want to share with you some prosperity with my homemade tikoy.

A few attempts at kitchen testing the recipe yielded this glorious, magnificent dark purple steamed loaf. I added a delicious dimension to the regular tikoy of steamed rice flour by adding boiled ube or purple yam. Recent years have seen a resurgence and re-acquainted popularity with ube. Social media influencers here in America and in the Philippines, have discovered the beauty and luscious flavors of the purple yam – a tuber that grows above ground and in season towards the end of the year in warmer climates. Today, we don’t have to wait for the year end to enjoy ube – I can find a variety in Asian markets: boiled frozen ube, ube powder and the ube flavoring.

It was easy and straightforward to mix all the ingredients together and steam them. When the aubergine-colored steamed loaves were done, I caught a whiff of the fragrant, floral ube aroma swirling around the steamer as I carefully took out the steaming hot cake pans. Once cooled and firm, I marveled at how the tikoy ube slices looked as superb as the color of dark amethyst. And after I pan-fried each slice, the warm, soft, gooey pieces were magical with hints of the sweet almond-like flavor that one finds in ube or purple yam.

Whether you’re Asian, Filipino or a fan of Asian delicacies, enjoying these scrumptious slices of tikoy ube will be a good start to an auspicious new year. These are snacks and merienda fare we’ll be enjoying long after the Chinese New Year festivities are over. Lesson learned here – your luck is not going to run out because now you can make your own tikoy and create your own magic and prosperity all throughout the year.

Tikoy with Ube - Purple Yam Rice Cake for Lunar New Year

Tikoy (say 'tee-koy') is a steamed Chinese rice cake traditionally made with brown sugar and molasses. I added ube (purple yam) to my homemade steamed tikoy to give it a sweet flavor and fragrant aroma. In the Philippines, steamed cakes are gifted for the Lunar New Year for prosperity and good luck. After steaming the tikoy, we sliced and pan fried it. Each warm slice gets crisp on the outside while sticky soft inside. The yellow coating of the eggs are close in color to 'gold', a symbol of prosperity. The chewy, gummy consistency of the tikoy rice cake are supposed to make sure the luck 'sticks'. This is an Asian in America recipe by Elizabeth Ann Quirino. Serves 4.
*Recipe update: I share 2 alternative ways to steam this Tikoy: On the stove-top or in the Instant Pot multicooker. The cooking time is for the traditional stove-top cooking.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time55 minutes
Resting Time1 day
Total Time1 day 1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Dessert, Merienda, Snacks
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese, Filipino
Keyword: Tikoy with Ube
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 776kcal
Author: Asian in America - Elizabeth Ann Quirino


  • Steamer for stove-top cooking
  • cake pans to fit inside steamer: 7-inches or 9-inches in diameter
  • Instant Pot multicooker : 6 quarts or 8 quarts (if not steaming on stove-top)


  • 3 1/2 cups sweet rice flour, like Mochiko
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup boiled ube (purple yam) thawed at room temperature if frozen
  • 3 teaspoons ube flavoring
  • 2 whole eggs beaten
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil for pan - frying

For serving:

  • Hot tea


To mix the Tikoy with Ube:

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together: Rice flour and salt. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, add the sugar to the boiling water. Mix till sugar is dissolved.
    Add the ube flavoring and blend well. Set aside.
  • To the rice flour mixture, pour the liquid mixture of ube flavoring and sugar. Mix well till there are no more lumps.
    Add the boiled, mashed ube to this mixture. Blend ingredients till smooth. Set aside.

To cook the Tikoy with Ube:

  • Prepare the steamer by filling the bottom pan with water, about 3/4 full. Cover and turn up the heat to high so water can start boiling.
  • Separately, pour the ube-flour mixture into a pre-greased 9-inch cake pan (or one that will fit into the steamer).
    I used 2 small Filipino oval llaneras, (each 4 inches in length).
    Place the cake pans in the steamer layer which has holes. Put this layer over the boiling water.
    Cover and steam tikoy for 55 minutes over boiling water.
    *Note: Wrap the inside cover of the steamer with a kitchen towel or cheesecloth so water droplets do not fall on the tikoy .
  • Check the water level towards the middle of steaming to make sure it has not evaporated. Refill the water as needed.
  • Tikoy is cooked when it is firm and there is no more trace of liquid after steaming.
    Cool the cake pans of tikoy on the counter till they are at room temperature.
    When tikoy has cooled, cover with plastic wrap, then foil all over. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight to firm up.
    *Note: You can cook the tikoy 2 weeks before the Lunar New Year and store it in the refrigerator till ready to pan-fry during the festivities.

To pan-fry Tikoy with Ube:

  • Remove the tikoy from the cake pans. Slice the tikoy into bite-sized squares or rectangle shapes (2-inches each).
    Dip each slice into a small bowl of beaten eggs till tikoy is coated completely.
  • In a large skillet or wok, over medium-high heat, add the oil. When oil is hot enough in about 2 to 3 minutes, add the tikoy slices coated with egg.
    Pan-fry each slice for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Turn the tikoy slices over with a turner or long chopsticks.
    Drain fried tikoy slices on parchment paper or paper towels to remove excess oil.
    Arrange slices on a serving platter. Serve warm with piping- hot tea.

Cook's comments:

  • You can substitute ube powder for the fresh, boiled ube. Take 1 cup ube powder and soak in 1/4 cup warm water for about 5 to 6 minutes till blended and there are no more lumps. Add this to the rice flour mixture according to instructions above. Follow rest of procedure for cooking tikoy.

To cook Tikoy with Ube in the Instant Pot:

  • Follow directions above for mixing the ube, flour and other ingredients.
    Pour the tikoy-ube mixture into a 7-inch cake pan that fits in the Instant Pot.
    *Note: I used the Filipino oval llanera for this recipe.
    Place a metal or silicone trivet in the inside of the Instant Pot.
    Pour about 3 cups of water into the inside pot. Water has to reach the bottom of the cake pan, just above the trivet.
    Close and lock the lid. Set valve to Sealing.
    Click Manual + High Pressure and set timer to cook for 25 minutes.
    When buzzer sounds to announce cooking is done, do a Quick Release.
    Carefully unlock and open the lid. Set the lid on a safe place on the counter.
    Using silicone mitts, lift handles of the trivet to take out the cake pan. Cool on the counter. When tikoy has cooled down, cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
    Slice and pan-fry according to recipe instructions above.

Notes on the Instant Pot:

  • It takes about 17 minutes for the Instant Pot to preheat to High Pressure and for cooking time to begin. For other multicooker brands, check the product manual.
    Safety precautions: Use accessories recommended for the Instant Pot like silicone or metal. Do not use glassware. Read the manual for complete safety information.

Copyright Notice:

  • All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos and  recipe content I wrote, on your website,books, films, television shows or videos  without my permission. If you want to republish this recipe or content on another website, video, news article,or media outlets mentioned above please ASK my permission, re-write it in your own words and simply link back to this blog to give proper attribution. It’s the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]


Serving: 1g | Calories: 776kcal | Carbohydrates: 150g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 292mg | Potassium: 106mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 38g | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg

Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.

Did you like this recipe? I have more Filipino Instant Pot recipes in my newest cookbook Instant Filipino Recipes: My Mother’s Traditional Philippine Cooking in A Multicooker Pot by Elizabeth Ann Besa-QuirinoBuy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.

Copyright Notice: Hello, Friends! Please DO NOT LIFT OR PLAGIARIZE my original recipe, stories, photos or videos. All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos, essays, stories and recipe content on your websites, books, films, television shows, videos, without my permission. If you wish to republish this recipe or content on media outlets mentioned above, please ASK MY PERMISSION, or re-write it in your own words and link back to my blog AsianInAmericaMag.com to give proper attribution. It is the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]

Disclosure: Instant Pot is the brand name of a multi-cooker that cooks in high and low pressure. I was not paid by the Instant Pot company to mention the product or brand nor endorse it. This is not an ad. My views and opinions are my own.

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  1. A little bit confused about the kind of rice are you using. Is it the regular rice flour or the glutinous rice flour? Thanks

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