Happy Lunar New Year#WeekendCooking

Happy Year of the Rabbit!

It’s been a busy few days preparing for the Lunar New Year.Spring cleaning is a must. The weekend before, we had vacuumed and cleaned the house, everyone pitching in. On Saturday, we put up some decorations like lanterns and red packets.

But perhaps some of the most important traditions revolve around food. In Singapore, Lunar New Year is a public holiday, at least for the first couple of days of the new year. This means you get to go visiting friends and family. And when people visit your home, you’re supposed to provide different treats and snacks. Common new year treats found in Singapore are:

pineapple tarts

love letters

bakkwa, a kind of grilled pork jerky

kueh bangkit, a crumbly cookie made with tapioca flour and coconut milk

When I was a kid, my mum would also make cookies like peanut cookies and checkerboard cookies. Last year, I posted about enjoying Yusheng in Singapore. This is a vegetable and raw fish salad that’s kinda unique to Singapore and Malaysia. For instance, it’s not easily found here in the Bay Area Chinese restaurants. And so I miss eating it during the new year!

This year, I made Chinese peanut cookies, as well as pork floss and sesame cookies (recipe here). Both cookies are the type that melt in your mouth, so they’re quite small.

It’s not easy being away from our families during these times that are about family and celebration. I often wish that we could go back to visit, so that my kids can get a chance to experience Lunar New Year celebrations too. I guess that’s why I try my best to keep some traditions going, like making new year cookies, even though we don’t have family visiting us!

This year, I also wanted to try making huat kueh or fa gao 发糕, which can be translated to fortune cake. It’s a kind of cupcake that’s steamed. They are often flavoured with brown sugar, but as we love the flavour of pandan leaves, I made this pandan coconut version (recipe here). The green color is from pandan paste. The batter is quite thick.

Steaming it in a pot. Make sure not to lift the lid until the 15 minutes are up.

Our other tradition is always having hotpot for our reunion dinner (tuan yuan fan 团圆饭). This takes place on Lunar New Year eve, and is meant for the family to get together for a meal.

It’s labelled “pudding” but nian gao is really not a pudding. It’s instead a rather firm sweet cake made with rice flour.

The best way to eat it is dip it in flour and beaten eggs, then pan fry it. The nian gao softens with cooking, and is delicious and sweet. I cook this for breakfast for the first couple of days of the new year, for a sweet start to the year.

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  1. We were in Singapore a couple of days before Lunar New Year. We visited street markets and saw so many interesting things there!

    Thanks for sharing with Weekend Cooking.


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