Familiar Chinese New Year Treats

In Singapore, a Chinese reunion dinner often includes chicken curry

12/31/2016 3:11:52 PM
written By : M Sabapathy Print

Even though the majority of Singaporeans are ethnic Chinese, the country has been multi-racial and multi-cultural for a few hundred years. It stands to reason then that the food eaten during Chinese New year in Singapore will reflect some of this cultural diversity.

That is why it is common to find chicken curry and love letters (both derived from Indian dishes) or pineapple tarts and almond cookies (of Eurasian parentage) as part of the delcious fare on offer in many Singaporean homes during the festival period.

Traditionally, the Chinese serve “lucky food” during the 16-day festival season, especially on New Year’s Eve, which is believed to bring good luck for the coming year. The auspicious symbolism of these foods is based on their pronunciations or appearance.

Not only do the dishes themselves matter, but also the preparation, and ways of serving and eating mean a lot.

The most common Chinese New Year foods includes dumplings often shaped as ingots, steamed whole fish, spring rolls, and niangao, barbecued or braised pork and and of course mandarin oranges. But many families, make it a point to add chicken curry and no guest can go away without being fed dainty love letters and rich pineapple tarts. 

Of course, you don’t have to be Chinese to enjoy the delicious treats of Chinese New Year. Here are some easy to make recpies of typical dishes, some with a twist, such as our Chilli Chicken recipe in place of the usual Chicken Curry with coconut milk.

PINEAPPLE TARTS

INGREDIENTS

  • 125 gm chilled butter, cut to small cubes
  • 420 gm pineapple tart jam
  • 200 gm unbleached, plain flour plus extra for dusting
  • 20 gm corn flour 
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 1 large egg yolk 
  • 1/2 to 1 tbsp cold water
  • 40 gm icing sugar
  • Egg wash (1 egg plus 1 tbsp water)

METHOD

1. Sift the plain flour, corn flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Combine well. 

2. Rub cold butter into the flour with fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.

3. Add egg, water and sugar. Gently knead to a soft dough (do not over knead). 

4. Divide dough to four small portions. Wrap each portion in cling film, and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm it up. 

5. Meanwhile, weigh and shape the pineapple jam to small balls. 

6. After half-an-hour, remove one portion of dough from the fridge. Dust work surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll the dough to 7 mm thickness.

7. Dust the mould with flour before cutting out the tart shells. Brush tart shells with egg wash. 

8. Space tart shell 1 cm apart on baking tray lined with parchment paper.

9. Bake the tart shells at 180°C (356°F) middle rack for 10 minutes.

10. After baking, place a ball of pineapple jam on the cavity of each tart shell. 

11. Return tart shells back to oven to continue baking for 5 minutes until golden. When the pineapple tarts are cooled, store them in an air-tight container.

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