Last week we introduced some of the traditions and practices surrounding Chinese New Year celebrations in Singapore. This week, we’ll be showing you some of the yummiest goodies commonly eaten during this period. Want to bring some home? We’ll tell you where you can get them too!
Nothing heralds the coming of Chinese New Year like the scent of barbequed pork wafting through the air… Bak kwa is, perhaps, the most iconic of the Chinese New Year goodies. A thin slice of meat that has been marinated with sugar and spices before being grilled, bak kwa is both savoury and sweet. Traditionally made from pork, you can also find chicken, beef,even turkey or even crocodile variations nowadays although pork bak kwa remains the favourite. Have a taste for spicy foods? Chilli versions are available too. Freshly grilled bak kwa tastes the best, of course, but if you’re looking for something that’s more easily portable to bring home, you can buy vacuum-sealed packs.
Where to buy: Bee Cheng Hiang, Fragrance, Lim Chee Guan, Kim Joo Guan
Pineapple tarts are another delicacy that’s a must during Chinese New Year. A firm, pineapple filling is encased in buttery pastry that is glazed in egg before being baked to golden brown perfection. The tarts come in different shapes but can broadly be classified into two types: ones where the pastry completely encases the filling, or open-top tarts where the filling is rolled into a ball and sit prettily on the pastry case. In the latter, the pineapple filling might be decorated further with a lattice design made from pastry. The filling can range from tasting sweet and jammy to ones that retain more of the pineapple’s natural tartness.
Where to buy: Bengawan Solo, Bakerzin, Le Café, Kele, Crystal Jade
Love letters are deliciously crispy wafers whose simple ingredients belie the effort needed to make them. Most recipes simply call for sugar, eggs, coconut milk, plain flour and rice flour. All ingredients are mixed to form a batter that is poured thinly onto a cast iron mould. The mould is heated to cook the batter, which then has to be quickly rolled or folded into a fan shape before it’s cooled. The resulting snack is unbelievably addictive, as its airy texture means you’ll find yourself eating love letter after love letter, until they’re all gone.
Where to buy: Supermarkets, Bengawan Solo
Mini Crispy Rolls
Everything’s cuter when they’re smaller, and spring rolls are no exception. These mini rolls, however, pack a flavourful punch under that adorable exterior. Instead of being filled with vegetables, meat or vermicelli, mini rolls are filled with hae bee hiam – spicy dried prawns – or savoury floss made from pork or fish. The mini rolls are then fried to an ideal crisp. As you crunch into every bite-sized roll, you’re rewarded with delicious bursts of flavour. Before you know it, you’ll have eaten your way through the bottle you bought so we suggest stocking up.
Where to buy: Bee Cheng Hiang, Bengawan Solo
These dried seeds require a bit of skill to eat. To be able to split the shell neatly into two with your teeth, you have to use just the right amount of force and know where to apply this force (the answer is near the tip). If you don’t use enough force, the shells won’t open. But if you use too much force you’ll just crush the seed. Commonly seen are black melon seeds with a light brown “eye” in the centre, red melon seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Signifying abundance and plenty of descendants, these are perhaps one of the healthier Chinese New Year snack options and are easily available all year round.