Chinese New Year isn’t a holiday here, the kids don’t get the days off school, the husband is still at work. It’s not the same as the Chinese New Year celebrations I grew up with in Singapore, where we would get the first two days off and spend it visiting family and friends, eating lots of snacks and special New Year meals.
But despite it not being a holiday, I still try to hang on to some traditions. The kids get new pyjamas, we decorate the house, and we try to have our reunion dinner on the eve, although this year it was tricky because the 7yo had tennis lessons in the evening so we had to do our reunion dinner on the first day of the New Year instead. We did our usual hotpot meal!
I also try to make some cookies for the New Year, this year I made pork floss cookies. Pork floss is a kind of shredded dried pork. It’s a bit sweet and a bit salty so it makes for a great cookie flavour. The cookie batter itself is very buttery and melt-in-your-mouth type. So the addition of sesame seeds and pork floss results in a buttery crunchy and delicious combination.
One thing I always buy is niangao, a sweet sticky glutinous rice cake that is steamed. There are a variety of flavors you can buy like coconut or red bean or ginger. I like the simple brown sugar version. Traditionally it’s offered to the Kitchen God, as the sticky cake means he won’t be able to say bad things about the family. The niangao at room temperature is quite firm and it’s easy enough to cut.
I like to slice it up, dip it in some beaten egg and panfry it. This way the niangao itself softens and gets a bit sticky and tastes great with the egg. Some people eat it with yam but I’ve never tried it that way.
It’s a once-a-year special treat!
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