Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Surviving the lunar new year - have your cookies and eat them!

The year of the Sheep / Goat / Ram - somewhat confusing, but all applicable for the lunar new year - is just two weeks off, time to get snacking!
> Treats for the arduous journey, happy 2015
> Color me happy, it's 2014!

Cookies and traditional desserts are a staple at every Chinese home - a way of welcoming visiting well-wishers, and feed festive once-a-year-gamblers that get hungrier as the stakes go up and coins change hands.

As a new generation (I would like to think!) Asian household, we've tried to do away with clutter.

Keeping things simple, cherishing the space.

There are however, a few very delectable (yes, all edible once again, a running theme I realise) key elements of the lunar new year that you just can't dispense with. The convivial spirit is never the same.

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1) Bak Kwa: barbecued sweet pork slices
No one understands the insane phenomenon of queuing for hours at the most popular stalls, paying double the usual prices - when bak kwa is there for the taking any other day of the year. But the craze continues, and the chinese new year festivity is all the rowdier and happier for it.

> Which bak kwa to get in Singapore?
> Not too many options in Hong Kong, but there's always good 'ol Bee Cheng Hiang

Image from Gallery Funny Game

2) Mandarin oranges
Like bak kwa, the mad scramble for mandarins takes some strategic planning (not too early, they'll rot before you get to give them out; not too late - none left for you!), and hefty muscles. Be smart and know what you're grabbing at the markets, not all oranges are created equal.
> Meet the oranges that wink

Image from Infographics.sg

3) Lo Hei
Insanely messy, ridiculously rowdy and superbly delicious - tossing yu sheng is mandatory during the luar new year. Do you want to be the shmuck who misses out tossing in some good fortune? And be honest - no one actually knows the right phrases for each stage in spite of the collective brave shouting of unintelligible gibberish, as you try to outdo your neighbour tossing higher with each round. Here's an awesome guide to doing lo hei like a boss.

4) New Year cookies
Hands up anyone who's managed to NOT put on weight during the chinese new year. Yep, pretty much zero. I've always advocated balance - food, life, work, sports - everything. So balance is the way we're gonna take on the new year feasting, you can have your cookies and eat them! Toasted oats and nuts are the healthy way to go. Coupled with reduced sugar and butter, you've got yourself some pretty scrummy treats that taste fab and keep you fitting the same pair of pants you walked in with pre-cookies.

Make smart choices this lunar new year, gong xi fa cai everyone!

I'm joining Best Recipes for Everyone Jan & Feb 2015 Event Theme: My Homemake Cookies by Fion of XuanHom's Mom and co-hosted by Victoria Baking Into The Ether.

Link to "My Treasured Recipes #5 - Chinese New Year Goodies (Jan / Feb 2015)" hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House.

Also linking this post to "Cook & Celebrate: CNY 2015" event organized by Yen from Eat Your Heart Out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.