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Lunar New Year is just around the corner! The time for happy family reunions and joyful friendly gatherings to bring luck and prosperity. Besides the customary feasts of festive dishes, pastries too, are indispensable as gifts and treats for your guests. So, here are 8 auspicious cookies, munchies, and snacks to complete your Lunar New Year celebrations!
Sweet and fruity with a soft texture that melts in your mouth, pineapple rolls are a Lunar New Year staple in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Pineapple in the Chinese Hokkien dialect is a homonym for ‘bringing the luck’, and this irresistible darling of pineapple jam wrapped in the buttery crust is a jovial and tasty treat to signify exactly that.
Adorable cookies that literally means ‘to rise’, Kuih Bangkit is made with tapioca flour, icing sugar, flour, egg yolks, coconut milk and pandan leaves. The dough is cast in a traditional wooden mould for a set of yummy flower, bird and bunny shapes. A Malaysian and Singaporean special for Lunar New Year. Sweet, fragrant, charming to see and a lot of fun to munch.
Kuih Kapit or Chinese love letters is a classic Lunar New Year crêpe. Traditionally made with a special round mould to clamp the mixture of glutinous rice flour, eggs and coconut milk; grilled over charcoal fire into a paper-thin sheet, then folded into its shape while hot. Hence, the name Kapit, meaning ‘pressed together’. Even today, the making of Kuih Kapit is a community festive affair in Chinese villages. The womenfolk would gather and cook large tin-fulls of it a month before the Lunar New Year, to be shared with all the families. Sweet, crispy and a lovely treat that symbolizes togetherness. Once you tasted your first, it’s hard to stop!
Milky and crunchy, Loong Peng or ‘Dragon Cookies’ are made with margarine, icing sugar, eggs, vanilla essence and flour; battered and pressed from a piping mould to shape into its snaky form before baking. While Western myths depict dragons as malevolent beasts, in the East, they are auspicious beings. In Chinese mythology, dragons are a symbol of good health, strength, dignity, and prosperity; though as these traditional cookies, they are cute and very yummy.
Although they look like honeycomb beehives, Kuih Loyang is actually intended to shape like a lotus, a symbol of purity; or a rose, a symbol of love. Flour, eggs, coconut milk and granulated sugar whisked into a pancake batter, shape with a special mould, then deep-fried till crisp. A joyous Lunar New Year treats that go well with tea.
The usual palette of Lunar New Year snacks is not complete without a variety of nut cookies. Peanut cookies are crunchy delights baked to golden brown yumminess for full-flavour pleasure. Walnut cookies, on the other hand, have a buttery texture with a soft yet crunchy mouthfeel. And who could resist the satisfying texture of cashew nut perched on the crumbly pastry of cashew nut cookies? Either one or all three, are best enjoyed during long happy chats with friends and family.
It is always interesting to see how different cultures adopt ingredients that aren’t indigenous to their cuisine. The Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese communities have taken a liking to the crunchiness of cornflake cereal. Its widespread popularity has made cornflake cookies a regular fixture at the table of every Lunar New Year gathering.
Who would have thought that dried seaweed sheets wrapped in popiah spring roll skin and fried would make for a crunchy and tasty cracker? If you are expecting vegan visitors, crispy seaweed crackers are a healthy alternative. That said, do not bring out too much as your guests will empty a whole jar of these irresistible crackers without even realising it!
Salted Egg Cookies
It is no secret that Asian cooking is rich in savoury treats. One popular ingredient is using salted egg yolks to coat everything from chicken or prawn, to add a unique umami flavour and grainy texture. This is why salted egg yolk cookies are one of the more irresistible pastries of the Lunar New Year snack palette.
An absolute Lunar New Year must-have from China to Southeast Asia, sweet grilled pork jerky is all the rage this time of year. Some might even travel to faraway cities just to get the most famous local Bak Kwa, weeks prior to the celebration; and there are entire businesses that focus just on supplying this ultimate treat. Every chef and vendor have a unique marinade or barbecue technique that gives a flavourful twist, combining the rich taste of pork with a smoky aroma. You can’t import it to Australia, but we got our own special recipe right here, for you to add to your Lunar New Year barbie!