The Lunar New Year is a time for reunions, gatherings, reflections and replenishment. To accentuate meanings, joy and good omens, snacks are selected that provide an atmosphere of
positive vibes and mention of good words. Above, my traditional family ribbon twist, peppered with sesame seeds, that has been made for beyond a hundred years. They are particularly addictive and go well with beer.
Below, the mish-mesh of salmon slices, crunchy bits and thinly sliced vegetables, including carrots, white radish or daikon, red pickled ginger, turnips, pomelo, chopped peanuts, pepper, jellyfish and chili. A dressing mix (made up of of plum sauce, kumquat juice, rice vinegar and sesame oil) is then poured into all the ingredients just before eating. This dish heralds positive luck, prosperity and growth, when every diner at a ten seat round table can dive in to collectively stir with their clean chopsticks - an act referred to in Cantonese as "lo hei" or symbolically stirring up the qi energy, happiness and prosperity.
Fruits can be symbolic as in red cherries (above) or fresh lychees (below). Biscuits can be made to represent the lively symbols of wealth and health. Spot the chicken, fish and pineapple in the moulds below of the kueh bangkit, made from a combination of eggs, tapioca flour and coconut milk before being baked. This Straits Chinese recipe is only utilised once a year - they may look hard on the outside but are a delight inside the mouth.
Butter cookies, above, were made by my sister-in-law Sian Kin as part of her annual baking sessions leading to every Lunar New Year. They do melt exquisitely in the mouth, are aromatic and are topped by a red glazed cherry eye. They go well with tea (above). Blueberries below are a recent addition of mine to the festivities.