Revel in the New Year festivities through your stomach with these well-loved, traditional Chinese New Year snacks
Chinese New Year is just around the corner, and this means that major feasting will soon begin! Usher the Year of the Tiger with the closest and dearest, and savour traditional ‘lucky’ dishes at a hearty reunion dinner and treats of all sorts throughout the season.
One thing’s for sure, with an abundance of traditional Chinese New Year snacks within an arm's reach, there will be no time (or space) for the munchies. Here are some of our all-time favourites:
Kuih Kapit (Folded Love Letters)
"When I was growing up, my uncle and I would sit in front of the TV, hugging a can of kuih kapit each, to watch TV with my grandfather. We could finish the cans in just about an hour or two, or we would be stopped by my horrified mother–whichever came first. My mom also used to pack these in her luggage whenever she would fly over to celebrate Chinese New Year with me when I was in Washington DC for my undergraduate degree. I would hide them under my bed so my friends wouldn't steal them when they came over to my dorm."
–Amanda Fung, Tatler Dining intern
"Definitely pineapple tarts for me! My neighbour aunty Peggy makes truly delicious pineapple tarts with buttery, crumbly pastry. There is just something about that homemade aspect that makes it taste better, I suppose. They are so great for Chinese New Year snacking, Christmas snacking, and all year round snacking (guilty-laughs)."
–Tania Jayatilaka, senior digital writer
"Prawn crackers. Taking a break from my regular potato chips, these snacks are equally addictive–and so easy to make at home! These crunchy goodness also go so well with beer and card games."
–Brian Cheong, digital editor
Fried Seaweed Spring Roll
"I am so addicted to these fried popiah skin-backed seaweed snacks that I eat it all year round. Walking around the markets and grocery stores during Chinese New Year is a nightmare because I cannot stop myself from buying a tub whenever I see one (and quickly finishing it within hours)."
–Zue Wei Leong, digital writer
"I always feel truly invincible and borderline immortal whenever I have a large tub of these on my lap and in my arms–that is how good they are. My obsession with peanut cookies go way back and eating these melt-in-your-mouth, buttery, nutty gems will always take me back to a time when no Chinese New Year was complete without the deafening chatter of my elderly Hakka relatives, air-conditioning on at full blast, TVB's Jade Solid Gold music awards playing on the TV, young cousins zooming around at full speed (in hindsight, they were probably sugar high from all the other Chinese New Year treats), and then there's me... just sat on the couch, casually popping peanut cookie after peanut cookie. Good times!"
–Lainey Loh, digital director
Kuih Bangkit (Tapioca Cookies)
"I love kuih bangkit for the way they taste as well as the way they look. They come in the prettiest shapes and are pristinely white against the riot of colour that is Chinese New Year. My late poh poh used to make the best version–melt-in-the-mouth, so delicate and light. She also left me her vintage moulds so perhaps this is the year I will try making them myself."
–Jennifer Choo, editor-in-chief of Tatler Homes
Bakkwa (Salty-sweet Dried Meat)
"Not sure if this counts as a traditional snack but mine is bakkwa (aka rougan; aka the Chinese equivalent of jerky if you’re, well, not from around here). It is a definite guilty pleasure of mine and a go-to for whenever I need a quick bite—sandwich it in-between any bread of your choice and you’re done."
–Koyyi Chin, print writer
Kuih Loyang (Rose Cookies)
"For me, Chinese New Year wouldn't feel complete if I don't get to try some Rose Cookies over the course of the celebrations. Admittedly, it's not the most common snack but I can't resist them. Interestingly, these cookies originated from India but due to the blending of cultures in Malaysia, it found its way into our homes.
Some of my fondest memories are visiting my grandparents' home searching for these delicious treats at the dining table. These cookies come in many shapes and sizes: honeycomb, star, or flower petal shapes. Regardless of how they look, this light and crunchy snack is a must-have."
–Chong Jinn Xiung, editor of Generation T, Malaysia
Almond Florentine Brittle
"For me, it would be Almond Florentine Brittle–they’re so crunchy and addictive. Whenever we’d go visit during Chinese New Year, my husband’s auntie would give us a jar of these homemade goodies to take home, knowing how much I love them."
–Elizabeth Soong, print editor