Best Chinese New Year snacks to try
Every festive period has its iconic grub – turkey for Christmas, pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, beer for Oktoberfest, and, er, strawberries and cream for Wimbledon season (that last one was a bit ropey, sorry). But Chinese New Year is on another level – there are tasty treats to get stuck into all over the place. So, with the Lunar New Year pulling up around the corner, it’s time to swot up on the best nibbles on offer in Singapore. From pineapple tarts and love letters to savoury-sweet bak kwa, here are our top favourite Chinese New Year snacks to munch on this year!
The Chinese take on good ol’ jerky, bak kwa are slices of sweet ‘n’ salty preserved meat. Liberally seasoned with spices, sugar, salt and soy sauce, it’s barbecued over charcoal for hints of smoky flavour. It’s available throughout the year, but most Chinese families buy the greasy treat in bulk during the Lunar New Year period. Pork bak kwa is the most popular – and arguably the best tasting – although beef, chicken and vegetarian varieties exist.
Psst… Ryan Grocery’s offers a healthier version ($48.80, 500g) that uses Borrowdale pork, which is hormone- and antibiotic-free, and certified free-range from Queensland, Australia. It also contains 50 percent less sugar and salt as compared to industry standards. ryansgrocery.com
The main culprit for bulging waistlines over the festive period, these bitty-but-flavourful pastries are impossible to stop at eating just one. Whether they’re open-faced (as seen above) or roll-shaped, the best pineapple tarts boast two things – a firm pastry that melts in your mouth, and a sticky dollop of fragrant, spice-laden pineapple jam.
Kueh bangkit (also known as tapioca cookies) are crunchy coconut-flavoured cookies that melt in your mouth almost instantly, making them fairly addictive. A great festive treat for friends, baking these delectable little devils takes nimble kneading skills and a great deal of patience.
These aren’t like the kind you scribble to your other half – although giving them a bunch of these brittle, flaky delights may score you some brownie points. Also known as biscuit rolls, love letters are tubes of eggy goodness that crumble into your mouth (and all over your lap) with each bite. Because of their feather-light texture, they’re easily consumed in the dozens. Alternative versions have chocolate or strawberry filling. For an authentic introduction to these delicate snacks, be sure to get them in the iconic aluminium tins.
Spicy Shrimp Rolls
Filled with hae bee hiam (dried shrimp sambal), these crispy, savoury and spicy deep fried rolls are a classic New Year snack and are so addictive – don’t be surprise if you start popping them in every minute! They can get pretty spicy fast, so take it slow especially if you’re not good with heat.
The unprecedented star of Chinese New Year, mandarin oranges (or just mandarins for short) are traditionally presented in pairs when visiting relatives and friends as a symbol of good fortune. One thing that is certainly fortunate, is that mandarins are the a great healthy option amid the array of sinful nibbles.
Check out these unconventional, locally-inspired snack creations, perfect for Chinese New Year!
Bak kwa onigiri
Looking for a fun twist to traditional Chinese New Year spread? 7-Eleven rings in the celebrations with two limited-run Japanese rice treats, the Chicken Bak Kwa Onigiri and Spicy Chilli Shrimp Onigiri. Best enjoyed warm, the rice balls ($2.50 for one, $4.80 for two) are your fun alternative to traditional treats for the Chinese New Year or your perfect on-the-go snacks for every day. The Chicken Bak Kwa Onigiri is filled with the smoky flavours of chicken jerky and floss, while the Spicy Chilli Shrimp Onigiri delights with hae bee hiam (dried shrimp) and its authentic sambal taste.
Salted egg yolk snacks
This limited edition gift set ($68) by The Golden Duck will please any friend who’s into local flavours. Included are a variety of super-addictive snacks, including chilli crab seafood tempura and salted egg yolk fish skin crunchy crisps. Yum! thegoldenduck.sg
Gula Melaka Pineapple Pastry
Featuring fragrant gula melaka-infused pineapple filling wrapped in a crumbly buttery soft pastry, Teochew confectionery Thye Moh Chan’s popular gula melaka pineapple pastry ($12 for six) is a must-try. Other pastry selections available include the unique durian pastry, longan pineapple pastry and walnut pineapple pastry. thyemohchan.com
Chocolate piggy banks
Local pastry chef Janice Wong has launched a selection of CNY specials, but our favourite has got to be the uber cute chocolate piggy banks ($33)! Celebrate the year of the pig with these playful treats, which are complete with chocolate coins. janicewong.com.sg
Lemongrass earl grey pineapple tarts
SPRMRKT’s crowd-favourite rendition ($38.80) of the classic pineapple tart is back! These bite-sized morsels are melt-in-your-mouth delicious, with a buttery shortcrust pastry that’s infused with aromatic earl grey tea leaves. Bite into it to reveal a generous filling of fresh homemade pineapple jam, with a surprise tinge of lemongrass. c
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