*Tong Tong Tong Tong Chiang!*
Chinese New Year is fast approaching and that can only mean one thing – CNY goodies!! By now, all the tasty treats would be making its rounds in the market as aunty and uncles stock up and make ready for the throng of visitors.
In most cases, they tend to overbuy and end up stuffing us with all the cookies…but hey! Who’s complaining? It’s the season for feasting anyway, and while you may have to set aside your diet plans (you know, the one you promised yourself at New Year’s) for a bit, we can guarantee that the taste will make up for the calories. 😉
So, Ah boy and Ah girl, to heighten the mood leading up to Chinese New Year, here are 10 types of Chinese New Year goodies your aunties always stuff you with.
1 – Pineapple Tarts
Sweet and crumbly pineapple tarts | Photo by Nyonya Cooking
There are many variations of pineapple tarts, but perhaps the most widespread and common type is the one with the crumbly base and a mound of pineapple jam on top. Believed to have originated from the Peranakans, the pineapple tart has featured prominently in the Chinese New Year stash of all things good and tasty.
Pineapple tarts can be found all year round, but sales usually peak around Chinese New Year as it is often in high demand by…who else but aunty and uncles ready to pop a few dozen or so into our tummies.
2 – Kuih Bahulu
The shell-shaped bahulu cermai
The best way to describe Kuih Bahulu? Tasty clouds.
This is the Malaysian version of a sponge cake with a crumbly outer layer and a very soft, light filling. Depending on the mould they use, Kuih Bahulu may come in different shapes, but the most traditional is the shell-shaped ones known as bahulu cermai, which are also the most popular in markets. With a cup of hot coffee for company, the Kuih Bahulu is taken to another level.
Because of how light it is, you could easily vacuum an entire tub in the evening and STILL be hungry for the reunion dinner later.
3 – Kuih Bangkit
The best way to eat Kuih Bangkit? Let it melt in your mouth | Photo by Butterkicap
Made from tapioca flour and coconut milk, the Kuih Bangkit is a delicious powdery cookie that cannot escape the radars of visiting relatives.
The true sign of a successful and worthy Kuih Bangkit is the melt-in-the-mouth effect. It’s a delicate process. Just like how no one chugs on fine wine, no one chews on a Kuih Bangkit. Instead, let it dissolve slowly, allow the taste buds to absorb the flavour of the coconut and pandan. When the sweet fragrance finally hits the nose, mmm, just enjoy the warmth of fleeting delight as it melts away completely. Then, reach out for another one and repeat!
4 – Kuih Kapit (Love Letters)
The fan-shaped Kuih Kapit. The cylindrical shaped Kuih Kapit is in the background |
Photo by Travelling Foodies
Kuih Kapit is also aptly known as Love Letters. Why exactly, we’re not too sure. What we do know is that we absolutely love them especially at this time of year.
There are two types of Kuih Kapit, they may look different but essentially they are both the same. First, you have the fan-shaped Kuih Kapit that looks very closely like a triangle; then, you have the long, cylindrical-shaped types…yeap, the ones we pretend to use as cigars in our childhood.
Here’s a fun fact: a Star Online poll in 2014 discovered that the Kuih Kapit was the top-ranked Chinese New Year snack among voters!
There may be an ironic absence of words in the Love Letters, but it has certainly romanced its way into our hearts. <3
5 – Honeycomb (Kuih Loyang)
The prettily shaped Honeycomb cookies aka Rose cookies aka Beehive cookies aka Kuih Loyang |
Photo by Lengskitchen
If you’re lucky enough to receive actual handwritten love letters from a special honey, then great! For the rest of us, we’ll just have to make-do with the honeycomb cookies.
It’s arguably one of the more aesthetic Chinese New Year snack, which is probably why it is called by other names such as Rose cookies or Beehive cookies. And it doesn’t disappoint in taste either!
The Honeycomb is a sweet, crispy biscuit distinguished by its rosette patterns. Making this may be tedious though, as it requires standing over an oil-filled wok while dipping the brass or copper mould in place.
But the end product: delightful.
6 – Crispy Seaweed Crackers
Don’t forget to eat your greens! | Photo by Asian Inspirations
We’re willing to bet you’ll see this snack at every relative’s house you visit. If it isn’t, then it was probably wiped out by the previous visitors.
Very common and incredibly delicious, the crispy seaweed crackers is ever-present not only because it is sold widely in markets and vendors, it is also exceptionally easy to make and can be fried in big batches at a time.
Most recipes only require about 3-4 ingredients: popiah/spring roll skin, seaweed, and eggs. Some may add in chili powder and sesame seeds for added flavour, but that’s entirely up to you. Otherwise, the classic original is still up there.
Oh and uhh…just because its seaweed doesn’t mean it’s going to be good for your diet ya, it’s usually deep-fried so there’s a good amount of oil involved.
Or you could lie to yourself and say you’re eating veges. Technically not wrong.
7 – Crispy Fried Crabstick
Slivers of crabby goodness | Photo by Peng’s Kitchen
This is a relatively new addition to the Chinese New Year snack inventory. Maybe not as traditional as the others on the list, but certainly not less yummy.
Crispy fried crabsticks aren’t fried as an entire stick on its own. It’s actually shredded into thin slices and dipped into burning hot oil. Alternatively, there are also recipes that favour baking the crab stick instead of deep frying, but it may require more time depending on how big your oven is.
This snack is notorious for being addictive and a hit among visitors, especially the young ones who are looking to get their hands on anything deep-fried.
8 – Bak Kwa
If by any chance you’re a foreigner reading this, you’re probably going Bak whaaat? In the most likely of circumstances, you’re probably already familiar with Bak Kwa and are fighting to keep your saliva from spilling out your mouth.
Bak Kwa in English is often called Chinese Pork Jerky. It’s a squarish piece of barbequed pork meat that’s oozing oil, complemented with a smoky aroma accustomed to the Chinese New Year. It’s a savoury blend of sweet and salty that can either be eaten alone, or as an ingredient in fried rice or bread.
Of late, there have also been chicken bak kwa and beef bak kwa for those who can’t eat pork, but the more traditional and favoured is the original bak kwa with pork meat.
9 – Ngaku Chips
Better than any other mainstream chip brands | Photo by Lengskitchen
How could we leave the famous Ngaku chips out? It’s always among the first Chinese New Year goodies to be sold, and are hugely popular in every household.
When you see them shelved in markets and roadside vendors, they may look like a tub of potato chips but we can assure you they are not. They are actually slivers of the arrowhead fruit, fried to a crisp.
It’s much harder to attain these chips during the non-festive season, and unlike the other snacks mentioned, Ngaku chips are sort of exclusive only to Chinese New Year. The exclusivity probably adds to the value, which is why they are produced rampantly and are sold very quickly.
So if you see them, get em’ quick (and pass some to us).
10 – Peanut Cookies
Glistening and delicious | Photo by Rasa Malaysia
If you love peanut butter you’d go nuts for this. These small rounded cookies are packed with grounded peanuts and sugar that will have you reaching out for more.
It’s easy to go overboard with this bite-sized peanut explosives as they are so mini and delicious you’ll probably never be satisfied with just one. If you’re wondering why they seem to glisten, don’t worry, it’s not your tempted mind playing tricks on you. Peanut cookies are usually glazed thinly in egg white just before baking to give it that extra shine.
From ordinary tiny peanuts to this? Quite a glow up if you ask me.
We are absolutely thrilled to be seeing those red-capped tubs out and filled with cookies. It means the season of family gatherings and much-needed catching up with distant relatives is dawning soon!
What cookies are you looking forward to this season?