Sunday, January 20, 2013

Chinese New Year festive food

Freshly made nian gao 

Rows and rows of Chinese sausages 

Waxed duck amidst the Chinese sausages

Chinatown in Singapore now looks resplendent in red as rows of street vendors display their traditional festive wares. Two types of Chinese New Year food that are seen only at this time of the year are new year cakes (nian gao) made from glutinous rice flour as well as waxed duck. Mum told me the quirky little story behind the sticky new year cakes when I was a little girl.

Each year, the Kitchen God makes a heavenly report on who has been been spreading gossips and lies. In order to circumvent this, offerings of the sticky nian gao are made to the Kitchen God. Hopefully, his mouth gets sticky after consuming the nian gao that he is unable to make that report. That is why many Taoists have an altar in the kitchen dedicated to the Kitchen God with nian gao as food offering. While at Chinatown yesterday, I saw trolleys of  nian gao at Tai Chong Kok, a shop that is famous for its moon cakes during the Mid Autumn Festival. Quirky story aside, these nian gao are really delicious when steamed with coconut or pan fried with a beaten egg. You don't really have to be a Taoist to eat this as it is a traditional festive food to be enjoyed by all Chinese.

Also at Chinatown were rows of Chinese sausages and waxed duck, all displayed neatly and beautifully. These really taste wonderful with rice when cooked in Chinese clay pots. The oil from the sausages and waxed duck will coat each grain of rice during the cooking process, giving it a wonderful fragrance and taste. Not healthy to say the least but most Chinese brush that aside as it is a exceptional treat during this time of the year !

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