Best Chinese New Year snacks to try
Every festive period has its iconic grub. 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 approaching, it’s time to brush up on the best nibbles to try 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 is 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.
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 have 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. They have a feather-light texture, so you can easily consume them by the dozen! 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. They can get pretty spicy fast, so take it slow, especially if you’re not good with heat.
Mandarins are the unprecedented star of Chinese New Year. They’re traditionally presented in pairs during visits to relatives and friends, as a symbol of good fortune. One thing that is certainly fortunate, is that mandarins are a great healthy option amid the array of sinful nibbles.
Check out these unconventional, locally-inspired snack creations, perfect for the Year of the Rat!
Chocolate-coated love letters
Local pastry chef Janice Wong has launched a whole new selection of CNY specials. Our favourites are the chocolate-coated love letters ($18) and the playful Mr Rat chocolates ($35 a pair) with surprise cocoa almond fillings. janicewong.com.sg
Bakkwa Prosperity Pizza
Looking for a fun twist to traditional Chinese New Year spread? Proofer Boulangerie rings in the celebrations with limited-edition 11-inch Prosperity Pizzas, including the “Let’s Bakkwa” with chicken ham, shredded chicken, crispy chicken bak kwa, capsicum and pineapple, topped cheese, roasted sesame sauce and chicken floss. Each savoury slice will give you a mouthful of traditional Chinese New Year tastes! proofer.com.sg
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