Having been away from home for the past 9 years and missing out on multiple Chinese New Year celebrations, this time of the year usually leaves me slightly forlorn and homesick. I miss the chaos, the crowds, the redness of it all. I miss the tedious chore of travelling from house to house to house to pay respects and collecting red packets. I even miss the kaypoh questions like “got boyfriend or not” or “when are you going to graduate ah” even though I’ve been out in the workforce for the past 4 years. Most of all, I miss getting together with my family and eating as a unit.
Reunion dinner always has all of us gathered at my grandparents’. We’d cater, and without fail, delicacies such as sharks’ fin soup and steamed fish would grace the table. My aunt would have started making pineapple tarts several weeks in advance. Dad would prepare his highly sought after pork belly, hanging it to dry a good 24 hours before marinating and roasting it.
For the past couple of years, I’ve started following in my grandma and aunts’ footsteps: pineapple tarts. The jam was made from scratch with no referred recipe and the pastry was from Fakebooo’s blog. 2 years ago, I hosted a Chinese New Year get together for my colleagues, which you can read about here. It was a vegan affair, and the most challenging part was making the goodies without eggs and butter. Nevertheless, it turned out to be quite a success and my colleagues, Caucasian and all, got into the spirit of lo hei and made a wonderful delectable mess.
This year, pineapple tarts were to be made once more (of course). I had the intention of gifting some to Goth Mum and made them vegan again. Pineapple tarts are pretty simple to make, just laborious. I recommend making the jam and the pastry on 2 separate days, for the whole assembly of these tarts take up the most time-consuming portion. My preference for pineapple jam sways toward the sour, so feel free to crank up the sugar to your liking!
1 ripe pineapple
1½ tablespoons brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
- Grate pineapple. (Do not process it, that will cause the jam to lose its textural appeal)
- Tip grated pinapple, juice and all, into a saucepan and add the sugar and whole spices.
- Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture has significantly less liquid and is sticky.
- Set aside and cool.
Pastry (adapted from GetYourVeganFreakOn)
225g plain flour
100g vegan margarine (I used Nuttlelex)
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cold water
- Combine flour, nuttlelex and salt in a large mixing bowl
- Rub the nuttlelex into the flour
- Once mixture resembles wet sand, add cold water a drizzle at a time. Knead and add more water until the dough forms a ball
- Wrap in clingwrap and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours
- Pat and roll out dough until approximately 5mm thick
- Use pastry cutter to cut out tart bases and set them on a lined baking tray
- Spoon a teaspoon of jam into your palm and roll into a ball. Place the jam ball in the middle of tart.
- Bake at 190 degrees for 12-15 minutes
- Place on cooling rack once done
(Optional: eggwash glaze can be substituted with melted nuttlelex or vegetable oil)
These little babies can be gifted or stashed for secret binging.
My Chinese New Year this year pretty much consisted of work, a couple of dinners with my favourite boys, more work and some kitchen exercise. Reunion dinner was a rowdy affair at Papparich. 3 days later, Fakebooo hosted a dinner at his. He had made Ayam Buak Keluak (it was oh so sedap!) and Chap Chye. I contributed a homemade yu sang which consisted of grated carrot, cucumber, daikon, ginger, candied fruit, pomelo, nuts and sesame seeds. It was The Angmoh’s first Lo Hei and he absolutely loved it.
So Happy Horsey Lunar New Year! Congrats and prosper, have ten thousand successes, stay healthy always and be annually fishy!
Ps. These are rough translations of Chinese wishes!