By: Marcus Sia
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. Here’s our pick the top five traditional goodies to munch on this month…
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.
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 fauirly 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.
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.