The Lunar New Year is upon us. Once again, as Malaysians, we are spoiled with an abundance of cultures. Chinese New Year brings about a spread of amazing celebrations and what can be more amazing than the array of food and snacks available for our consumption, regardless of our race or ethnicity.
Here are some of our favourite snacks that can only be easily accessible during Lunar New Year:
Image by Klook
- Yee Sang
Yee Sang is not technically a snack, rather a ceremonial assemblage of colourful and delicious ingredients in one plate. Among them are raw fish, carrots, cucumbers, pickled ginger, peanuts, plum sauce and a myriad of other things assembled for the prosperity toss (lou hei) in which auspicious sayings are uttered while the ingredients are added one at a time. Then, they are tossed into the air.
Yee Sang was said to be born in Malaysia itself – originated by Loke Ching Fatt: a Cantonese immigrant from China in the 1940s. This flavourful dish is said to bring luck, health, prosperity and good fortune. The higher they are tossed, the more luck and prosperity you are said to get.
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- Mandarin Oranges
Who can forget the abundance of mandarin oranges currently stacked in grocery stores at the moment. The mandarin oranges are meant to symbolise prosperity and wealth. The Chinese word for mandarin – kam – is said to sound very similar to the word for ‘gold’ so having mandarin oranges around the home during Lunar New Year is said to bring riches into your life!
If the stems are still attached, they also can be said to represent happiness, abundance and fertility.
Image by TopChinaTravel
- Red Dates
Red dates are beautiful fruits, known for their striking and deep red colour, and since the iconic indication of Lunar New Year is the colour red, this snack is said to mean wealth and prosperity. They are mostly eaten on happy and joyful occasions such as wedding ceremonies, housewarming parties and festivals, but are also very commonly served dried during Chinese New Year.
Image by Nyonya Cooking
- Arrowroot Chips / Ngaku Chips
Arrowroot chips are by far the most seasonal snacks of the lot. They are only available typically between December and February, making them the most common and exclusively-associated with Chinese New Year celebrations. Arrowroot is a type of potato, or starchy vegetable (simiar to cassava) that are cut into thin pieces and then deep fried until they are golden brown and crispy to become chips.
Image by Freepik (elmantherlee)
- Kuih Kapit
To list every available cookie and biscuit available would take up a lot of space and time, but the most common favourites include the Kuih Kapit or fondly referred to Chinese Love Letters. This is the most popular of Lunar New Year cookies that have been around for centuries. They are a traditional delicacy shared by all cultures especially Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
Many people associate kuih kapit with nostalgia – it used to be a communal practice to make the kuih whereby families would gather to prepare the kuih; from baking to serving during Lunar New Year. The signature equipment for making kuih kapit is the mould. It gives the signature crispiness of the kuih combined with the delicious eggy and not-too-sweet combination.
This list has barely scratched the surface of the plethora of snacks available during Lunar New Year. But they all have one thing in common – they are delicious, addictive and bring forth an abundance of luck and prosperity in the year to come!