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CHINESE NEW YEAR: SNACKS AND COOKIES
Loosen those belts, Chinese New Year is here! The festivities would not be complete with a spread of delicacies that have become synonymous with the celebration. Here’s a list that’ll tantalise your tastebuds.
Chinese New Year is the biggest and most important celebration for the Chinese worldwide. The auspicious 15 days mark the beginning of the Lunar calendar, and are filled with customs and traditions associated with good fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity. It’s a celebration of fireworks, family, the colour red, gambling, ang pows (red money packets), decadent food and most importantly, snacks. Here’s your essential guide to the snacks you will find during Chinese New Year In Malaysia.
Kuih Kapit / Love Letters
Sweet, light and crispy, Kuih Kapit is a traditional crispy wafer snack passed on by the Peranakan Chinese. It is made by pouring a light egg batter over a patterned iron mould and heating it over a charcoal stove. The mould has two plates which clamp together, and are attached to long handles for use over a charcoal stove. A product of Dutch colonialism, the main ingredients consist of wheat flour, granulated sugar, coconut milk, eggs, and cooking oil. Colloquially called Love Letters, this snack comes in two forms - folded triangle, which is mainly available during Chinese New Year; and cylindrical roll, the more commercialised version which you can find all year round.
A Chinese New Year essential, Pineapple Tarts have become a celebrated local snack that’s a staple for not only Chinese New Year, but also Hari Raya and Deepavali. Dangerously addictive, the tart has the texture of a butter cookie, only softer and creamier, with a core or topping of grated fresh pineapple that has been reduced and caramelised with sugar and spices (usually cinnamon, star anise and cloves). Inspired heavily by Peranakan desserts, the Pineapple Tart is on our list of must-have snacks during Chinese New Year, or in fact, any time of the year.
A relatively new addition to the New Year snacks family, the simple yet delectable rice cake sums up the spirit of Chinese New Year - humble but bold. Made with puffed rice, the snack comes together with bits of toasted sesame seeds and peanuts, all coated with caramel.
Peanut Puff (Kok Chai) 油角仔
Crispy, crunchy and filled with ground peanuts, the Peanut Puff is a little pocket of joy that is both delicious and pretty. Ground peanuts are crimped into soft pastry then fried until they are crispy and golden-brown.
Many Malaysians would have memories of their family members, gathering around to prepare this snack. Kuih Bangkit is a pandan-flavoured tapioca cookie with a coconut base. It is tedious and laborious to prepare, but once the first cookie melts in your mouth, the realisation that it was all worth it sets in almost immediately.
Mini Prawn Roll
Exclusively Malaysian, the Mini Prawn Roll is a fine example of the localisation of Chinese cuisine. Dried sambal prawn bits are stuffed into miniature spring rolls before being deep-fried until crispy.
Traditional Chinese baking has a long history of using nuts such as almonds, walnuts and cashews to make delicious melt-in-your-mouth cookies. Probably the most universal cookie during Chinese New Year, peanut cookies can be found almost anywhere in the world during the festivities. Rich and buttery, yet soft and crumbly, it only requires four basic ingredients: peanuts, flour, sugar and oil.
German Crunch Cookie
The German Crunch cookie is going through a little revival of late during Chinese New Year. A soft shortbread of sorts, the cookie is light and crumbles easily, a one-bite type of cookie if you would like to avoid a mess. Despite its name, it has no roots in Germany. Oddly enough, the Swedes have something very similar - Uppåkra - with the same ingredients, preparations and presentation. It’s introduction to Malaysia remains a mystery, but Chinese New Year is the better for it.
By Chris Lim
Photos by Chris Lim
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