Chinese New Year is the season to spend quality time with your family, put up decorations and toss plenty of Yee Sang. During the first few days, many families will spend the entire day together with their extended relatives. Cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents and even some people you’ve never heard of will be dropping by.
Apart from the delicious main meals that are served, there are usually plenty of snacks available. Usually these snacks accompany Hong Kong movie marathon sessions or card games. Here are some of the most common Chinese New year snacks we all love:
1. Rose Cookies
Believe it or not, these cookies actually originate in India. However, due to a melding of cultures here, Rose Cookies are a staple in many Chinese homes. They’re known by many other names, like Kuih Rose, Beehive Cookies, Kuih Loyang and Honeycomb cookies.
They’re made from a batter of rice flour, wheat flour, sugar and coconut milk. The Batter is loaded up into a special mold shaped like a rose and deep fried. The resulting cookie is light, non-greasy, crunchy and not too sweet.
2. Bak Kua
Bak Kua are barbequed, dried sweetmeats that are an absolute must have snack for the season. These dried sweetmeats are made by carefully smoking thin slices of meat over burning coals for several hours. The meat is repeatedly smothered in a sweet salty sauce that gives it a lovely sheen.
Bak Kua is also called ‘Rou Gan’ and can be made from mutton, pork or beef. It’s pretty close to a dried beef jerky, except that it’s incredibly moist due to the glaze.
3. Kuih Bangkit
These pretty looking white (sometimes green) cookies come from a very ancient recipe. A good Kuih Bangkit will automatically melt in your mouth. It’s made with wheat and tapioca, sago or arrowroot flour with some sugar and pandan leaves.
These cookies are quite easy to prepare, and they’re often molded into five petaled flowers as this was the most common mold sold in the past. Kuih Bangkit can be quite sticky, so most people have a drink standing by to wash it down.
4. Pineapple Tarts
Pineapples are considered very auspicious fruits for Chinese New Year. Therefore, eating cookies made with sweetened pineapple jam comes as no surprise. The Chinese word for pineapple is ‘Ong Lai’ in the Hokkien dialect, which ‘means good luck is coming’. Therefore, having more pineapples around is always a good thing during Chinese New Year.
Pineapple tarts come in several forms, but it always consists of pineapple jam surrounded by a slightly salty pastry. The salt in the pastry actually serves to bring out the sweetness of the jam and the two go very well together.
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5. Nian Gao
Nian Goa are also known as New Year cakes and they’re made from glutinous rice flour and brown sugar. The entire thing is steamed over boiling water until it becomes hard. The cake is rarely eaten as it is. Many families have their own Nian Gao recipes.
It can be sliced, dipped in egg and pan fried or paired with a slice or yam, battered and then deep fried. You’ll also find Nian Gao on many altars this Chinese New Year as it’s a pretty standard offering to the Gods and to the ancestors.
6. Love Letters
Love Letters are often called Chinese crepes. These crumbly cookies can be rolled or folded into quarters. They earned their name from an ancient legend wherein a pair of forbidden lovers poured their hearts out via these cookies.
7. Arrowroot Chips
Arrowroot or Nga Ku chips are a fairly new snack that started becoming popular about 10 years ago. The chips are made by finely slicing Arrowroot bulbs and then deep frying them in oil until they become crispy. The resulting chips have a deep savory taste with a slight hint of bitterness. They’re also extremely addictive and have been known to finish an entire jar in just one hour.
8. Mini Spring Rolls
These look like really tiny versions of fried ‘popiah’ and are often filled with prawn floss. The outer shell is made with Wantan skin that’s been deep fried to crispy perfection. Sometimes, the fillings can be replaced with other meat floss like chicken or pork. However, many agree that prawn or shrimp floss is still the best.
9. Kuih Bahulu
Light, fluffy and not too sweet. Kuih Bahulu is a simple little sponge cake made by baking wheat flour, eggs, baking soda and sugar. In the past, Kuih Bahulu were prized snacks during Chinese New Year due to how difficult it was to bake them. Ovens were rare and these fluffy little cakes took very long to make over hot charcoal fires.
Today you can find them in various fun shapes including flowers, shells and fishes. They’re a hot with kids young and old.
10. Preserved Fruits
Also known as ‘asam’, these preserved fruits are always sold in a round platter with about 6-8 compartments. All these compartments will be filled with a variety of sweetened preserved fruits like plums, cherries, prunes, apricots and peaches. They look really pretty together and is a traditional way to wish visitors a sweeter life.
Beat the last minute rush and get your cookies as early as possible. If you really have no time to visit the shops, there’s always the option of going online. You’ll definitely be able to find homemade cookie and snack providers on places like Lazada and Fave, where you can use our cashback promotions to get a sum of your money back. Save even more on your CNY expenditures this year by using Lazada promo codes and Fave vouchers!