Eight Must-Try CNY Goodies

Eight Must-Try CNY Goodies

During the festive fifteen-day celebration of the Lunar New Year, many Chinese homes will see their shelves being filled to bursting with a wide selection of seasonal treats and delicacies. It’s certainly not uncommon to hear many complain about the post-holiday weight they’re carrying after a three-day binge, but you’d almost never hear a word against these delicious foods. Among the wealth of available treats, there are at least eight which should definitely not be missed:  

  1. Love letters

One of the most well-loved foods in Singapore during the CNY period, love letters are commonly sold at bakeries and supermarkets everywhere. These wafers are also known as dan juan (lit. egg rolls) in Chinese, and are mainly made of egg, flour and sugar. Each wafer is rolled up to form a thin roll, reminiscent of the letter rolls that were carried by messenger pigeons hundreds of years ago, and each bite is deliciously crisp and fragrant. These rolls are either plain, or stuffed with a chocolate or strawberry cream filling.

  1. Pineapple tarts

Don’t let the humble appearance of these pastries fool you. These flaky golden pastries are filled with sweet pineapple jam, and the pastry itself is rich and buttery. Each is small enough to be eaten in a single mouthful. The crumbly salty pastry complements the deliciously sticky and sweet jam perfectly, making this one of the most addictive CNY goodies you’d find. Pineapple tarts are usually available in two forms: rectangular or round balls with the jam’s hidden inside, or starburst cookies with a dollop of jam decorating the middle.

  1. Bak kwa

If there’s just one food that you’re going to try this New Year, make it bak kwa. Also called rou gan (dried meat), these barbequed meat slices have an addictive sweetness and spice that make it hard for anyone to eat just one. Some of the more established stores have a cultivated following who would swear by the stores’ recipes. The meat can be broadly divided into two types: those made with minced meat, and those made with thinly sliced pieces of meat. The former tends to be softer, thinner and sweeter. The latter is a little harder, chewier and provides a more well-rounded burst of flavour. Bak kwa is typically sold by weight and trimmed into squares, but they are also sold in small round discs known as ‘golden coins’ if you’d prefer your food to come with greater symbolic meaning

  1. Yusheng

When dining out during the CNY period, you may happen to see people tossing what seems like a lot of carrots into the air. As bizarre as it may seem, this is a common Chinese tradition during the CNY period as the name yu sheng is a homonym for an increase in abundance. The food itself is imbued with significance, where each ingredient, sauce and condiment represents a particular blessing. The dish is typically comprised of carrots, radish, raw fish and crackers, and mixed with plum sauce and oil.

  1. Peanut cookies

 These addictive cookies are small, fat and round. Traditionally sold and eaten during the Lunar New Year, these cookies are mainly made with roasted peanuts, sugar and flour, and provide a satisfying crunch while melting in the mouth.

  1. Mandarin oranges and pomelos

Fresh fruit is delicious at any time of year, but mandarin oranges and pomelos which come into season during the New Year period are available in much greater quantities and are especially lucky foods to eat during this festival as they are thought to bring luck and prosperity into the house. We’re not too sure how the prosperity part works considering how almost every Chinese family would be sure to be well stocked with these fruits (hello, inflation!), but there’s probably no harm in boosting your daily fruit intake.

  1. Nian Gao

This glutinous cake is something that you’d find in Singapore only during the Lunar New Year. The food is popular during this time as the food is a homonym for a ‘high’ year, representing hopes of one’s continued progress and improvement over the course of the New Year. Each sticky dark brown cake is typically sold with the word ‘prosperity’ written upon it in Chinese. The cake is sliced into flat thin pieces and then either steamed or fried. 

  1. Kueh Lapis

Despite being one of the more laborious cakes to make during the holiday period, Kueh Lapis remains a staple in the wide variety of treats and snacks offered to visitors. This moist, buttery and sweet cake is extremely rich and is only served in very small slices. The traditional cake is finely layered and served plain, although newer twists to the recipe have added fruits to the cake, such as cranberries and durian.

17 Jan 2024
Singapore Expats