Jan 19, 2017
The Lunar New Year is a time to indulge, especially in treats that symbolise all things abundant and prosperous. Forget about that waistline and dig in!
Sweet and savoury snacks
Bak kwa (barbecued sweet meat)
Originating from Fujian province in the days when meat was scarce, these slices of preserved pork (above) were a luxury treat reserved for guests and special occasions. Marinated with sugar and spices before being grilled, it is also called long yoke in Cantonese, which means to have robust fortune.
Actually crispy egg rolls, they are said to be formerly used to convey secret notes between lovers. The recipient would eat the egg roll to show the words had been taken to heart. Its shape and colour also resemble gold bars, while the inclusion of eggs represents fertility.
Their appearance says it all – round in shape and orange in colour, they look like gold ingots. Even better, its Mandarin name ju sounds like ji (luck in Chinese). Thus, Mandarin oranges (above) not only bring Vitamin C to the table, but also symbolise prosperity.
Often offered to guests still in the husk, they are commonly called hua sheng (flowering of life in Mandarin), offering good wishes for health and growth. They are sometimes known as chang sheng gua (nuts of longevity; above), as their shape promises a long, healthy life.
Longan and red date tea
The Mandarin name for red dates is hong zao, which means prosperity comes early; while longans, a homophone for dragon’s eye, represent the legendary creature’s vigour. The ingredients are cooked in a sugared broth with wishes for a sweet life. Ginkgo nuts are often added as their shape represents silver ingots.