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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Thinking of home... and home treats on Chinese New Year's Day

Food has a wonderfully (spell)binding effect on a people... and that seems especially true for Singaporeans--especially those who are staying abroad. Special occasions in particular make one miss local food all the more. Every Chinese New Year, my parents will cook up a storm in the kitchen, producing big pots of curry chicken, assorted vegetables, and other mouth-watering dishes that we and some relatives would enjoy for at least two days. We would also have large tins of prawn crackers ready on hand to offer to guests, many of whom apparently so used to our usual festive treats that they would come with anticipation of enjoying them. My grandma used to be in charge of frying these crackers but she's retired now, and the happy task has fallen to the younger hands of my mum and our great helper Siti.

The picture above shows off the results of my first attempt at making pineapple tarts. Such "usual" Chinese New Year goodies, found almost everywhere in Singapore during this period, aren't usual at all here, not even in Toronto Chinatown. I guess it's because goodies like pineapple tarts are more Southeast Asian Chinese. I found the recipe for this on The Star Online Kuali, and well, the tarts turned out alright and did satisfy our cravings for a New Year favourite! The recipe calls for 1 egg yolk but I found that 2 worked better for the integrity of the dough. (Important Note: we have an updated recipe for pineapple tarts that overrides the one mentioned above which refused to work for us after the first attempt--Elaine, 11 March 2005)

I also miss bak kwa, kueh bangkit, love letters, and--can you believe it--huat kueh! Wait till I get my hands on some rice flour (not so common here, except in Chinatown or larger Chinese stores), and I'll do some experimenting in the kitchen again. Meanwhile, if anyone of you knows of a good Chinese New Year recipe, please leave a comment. Thanks!

A Happy and Blessed Chinese New Year to you all!


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