It’s that time of year when stores in Singapore flip from Christmas to Chinese New Year. Red and gold decorations with a side of faux cherry blossom branches have been hung. The Christmas puddings have been cleared and Chinese New Year goodies line all the shelves.
Singapore is a city obsessed with food so you can be assured that the New Year treats are some of the best. The tasty goodies below are gifted and shared with friends and family along with oranges. There is another set of auspicious mealtime dishes. I’ll leave that for another post…
Without further ado, my favorite Chinese New Year goodies to try in Singapore!
Pineapple tarts lead my list of favorite Chinese New Year goodies in Singapore! These aren’t just any pineapple tarts but these open-face type seem to be a specialty in Singapore. I discovered these on my first trip to the Little Red Dot. I fell in love. Pineapple tarts are not hard to find but if you are in Singapore, I can’t recommend this open-faced style is unique. So good! They are hard to find in the States so I used to make them with my children every year.
The golden color and Chinese word for pineapple can sound like “fortune” in some dialects. Who couldn’t use a lucky tart as we head into the new year?
I don’t know why it took me so long to discover this melt-in-your-mouth treat. I’d seen them but didn’t really know what they were. Kueh bangkit is made with tapioca flour and coconut cream which gives them a different texture than a Western-style cookie. It’s delicious and almost powdery in the most pleasant way possible. I don’t remember ever seeing them in the States but let me know if you have!
The only savory delectable on my list and it’s an addicting one. This is Singapore’s version of beef jerky but made from pork. The tropical climate in Southeast Asia is too humid for dry curing so the meat is slow-grilled. Meat has historically been expensive (and still is compared to the US) having cured meat for New Year is a treat!
These delicate treats look similar to the wafer roll cookies we see in the West which may have been inspired by European colonists and localized with the addition of coconut and rice flour.
The name is said to have come from the days when young lovers were not able to meet without a chaperone. Younger siblings would deliver these goodies with messages hidden inside. When eaten the message was seen to be taken “to heart,” quite literally. It reminds me of being a teenager too when I liked someone my parents didn’t approve of. I wish I’d had these cookies then…
Peanut cookies symbolize long life. They are crisper and rounder than the traditional American peanut butter cookie but the taste is similar.
Kueh Lapis Legit
Another sweet treat inspired by colonists in Southeast Asia. Kueh lapis legit comes from the Dutch and is similar to spekkoek. The individual layers of this cake are each cooked separately, one on top of the other so that the perfect amount of brownness appears. It’s very time intensive. No wonder everyone prefers to buy it!
What are your favorite Chinese New Year treats in Singapore or in general? Check out some of my other favorite Singaporean foods.