Monthend Tastebuds: Chinese New Year Gluttony

You think Christmas is bad if you’re watching your weight? Think again. Chinese gatherings are all about food. Instead of the usual “How are you?” as a greeting, we Chinese ask “Have you eaten yet?”. Yes, it’s a general comment for Chinese living in Malaysia, and I’m a Chinese, so if I’m wrong, just shoot me already. So today, I will show you what went into our belly(ies?) during the festive fire cracking season!





siew yok


Those are all home made. Prawns are a must because in Chinese, it sounds like “Har” which then sounds like “Har Har Har” laughter. Eating prawns every year will bring laughter every year. The rest, as you noticed, are all meat. In Chinese, we say “tai yu tai yok” which literally means “big fish big meat”. Eating more meat during the New Year will bring prosperity, ensuring the family members are well fed. In the olden days, only the rich were able to eat meat. Let’s not talk about the nutritional values in eating greens too, eh? We also ate lots of fruits, mainly mandarins and pomelos, which are like a grapefruit’s big big uncle. At home, we like decorating it like this, with sprinkles of Ferrero Rocher and red packets. This tray symbolizes wealth and prosperity. Doesn’t it look like a tray of gold?




We also have plenty of yee sang. It is a huge plate of shredded vegetables and pickled greens with lots of auspicious meaning behind it. Way to go Lily for being so vague. I’m really bad at explaining. Anyone here who’s willing to help, please comment below šŸ™‚ So, our version of yee sang this year is to replace the raw fish with abalone!


yee sang


Not to forget the unhealthy snacks that is part of Chinese New Year. The tub of pineapple tarts is also meaningful because pineapple sounds like “Wong Lai” or “Ong Lai” which basically means good luck. Yeah, I know. Hey, it’s part of the fun šŸ˜‰




And of course, last but not least, the red packets (ang pow) which are a must for every Chinese New Year. There is some cash in the red packets and they are supposed to bring good tidings for the recipient. Married people are the ones who give, singles and children are the ones who receive. Unfortunately, youngsters nowadays don’t care much about tradition, and care much more about the money inside. This year, I had an awkward situation whereby I had to give an angpow to a much older lady acquaintance. It was OK until someone brought up the whole “being single at 40” situation. Uhh… Oh-kay…thanks for being so tactful dude!




It is the end of the celebration already, but just looking at past CNY photos reminded me of how fast every year goes by. Let’s not just watch 2013 go by but live it!


xoxo Lily



  • My mom didn’t really buy candy when I was a kid — I recall CNY being one of the few times I was allowed to eat as much of it as I wanted without being yelled at LOL. My favourite CNY treat are those slices of rice cake that we sautee in egg. DELICIOUS.

    • Rice cake sauteed in egg. Hhmmm… that’s new to me!! How interesting!!

  • Rose

    I am still feeling full from CNY. We had just about everything pictured, except my Mum made Honey Walnut Prawns, sticky CNY cake (not sure of the name, but you slice it and then fry it so it’s gooey sweet inside), and Buddha’s Treasure. Not quite sure about BT being a CNY dish, but I love it, so my Mum makes it for me. I agree about the kids and ang pow… I know my daughter couldn’t get to my Mum’s fast enough and we tortured her by taking the scenic route! šŸ˜‰

    • Hi Rose! Thanks for dropping by šŸ™‚ I think the sticky CNY cakes are called ‘nian kau’, where you can also fry with yam or sweet potatoes right? I think each family has their own family dish, and it’s great you have Buddha’s Treasure. It’s a luxurious dish for sure šŸ™‚ Aww, and you’re so naughty to tease your daughter like that. Hahahaha!!!

      • Rose

        Yep, it’s nian kau. I love the slightly crispy outside and the soft inside. I’m drooling thinking about again! I used to be a vegetarian, do I lean more towards meatless dishes, which is why my Mum makes Buddha’s Treasure for me. But don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the crisp skin of roast pork!!!

        • They’re all good, especially home made roast pork. The one my hubs makes is the best šŸ™‚

  • This much older lady acquaintance should know she shouldn’t be taking angpow from you! That is so wrong.

    Every year I reject angpow from younger married cousins because I’m just not too materialistic to take from younger age and the fact that I’m too old school to break the old tradition lol

    • LOL! The most mature person I gave an angpow to this year is a single 60+ year old man. He’s a fellow Rotarian, and the angpow was given to him as a joke. He happily accepted it. Hahahaha!

      • Anthony

        Angpow is not meant for monetary value. It is for luck. It is a rather old thinking that consider those who are not married needs the luck from those lucky married couples to get hitched soon and start reproducing. So yea, I would not think it is so much a joke to give angpow to our dear friend, but as a gesture of luck that he may still someday meet his partner. šŸ˜‰

        • If you were there with me, I was definitely pushed to give an angpow to our dear friend jokingly, but yes, of course, good luck to him for meeting his partner after the age of 60. Who knows where fate and destiny takes him eh? šŸ˜›

      • Ahhh for elderly like 60+ is okay regardless married or not. I started giving angpow to my parents 2 years ago. Basically it’s their CNY expenses money LOL!!! Always like the idea of giving money in a red packet. Red = “ong”.

        • They’re getting creative with red packets though. I saw pinks and golds this year. Getting more and more colourful šŸ™‚

  • Victoria

    I am salivating at all the food as it contains so many of my favourites. Yum!!! No one makes food like the Chinese that is for sure. LOL. Wanted to ask, what is the significant of almond cakes/cookies? I see it being sold everywhere before CNY and was always curious of the significance.

    • Oh dear, I’m not too sure! I’m not a fan of those almond cookies though. Can anyone here help Victoria?

  • The best of Chinese food all in this post!!! šŸ™‚ I love everything here!

    • I know right? I love them too!!

  • OH my god, I’m so hungry now, Lily! I miss tasty food like this!

    • Come to Malaysia, Larie, and I’ll make you fat in one week. LOL!

  • This is waaaaay too much to read about at 10AM! I’m sooo hungry!!! It’s interesting how you add coriander to the duck. I don’t think we do that! Also, in Taiwan we do the “have you eaten yet” thing as hello too šŸ˜‰

    • LOL Sunny! Well, you can have brunch! I have a feeling “have you eaten yet” is a Chinese thing, really. I wonder if anyone in Hong Kong or China do that too…

  • Ahhh yum! I miss this type of food. Should go over your place for some Chinese food lessons, and for some eating šŸ™‚

    • You, my dear, are more than welcome to visit. You can learn from my mom šŸ™‚ I can’t cook these. LOL!

  • I’m so intrigued by the whole CNY thing. I now finally know the meaning of the red envelopes, I wondered about that! I love posts like these, I learned so much now! ^^

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Teri! It’s a huge celebration here so the atmosphere is pretty awesome šŸ™‚

  • Kiss & Make-up

    Cool post, very interesting to read and see, especially when you not absolutely nothing about Chinese New Year like me šŸ™‚

    • I’m glad I could share something about Chinese New Year with you šŸ™‚

  • Liz

    I kept coming across this post at midnight the past week while there was nothing in the fridge, so I didn’t dare click it until now! SO MUCH GOOD FOOD. No wonder I like you so much. Love fellow foodies. šŸ˜€

    • I can imagine, reading this at midnight. That would make me hungry too. I’m actually replying your comment drunk right now, if that matters at all. Hahahahaha!!

  • I’ll take the pork, please! haha Also, I’m having a giveaway–hope you enter šŸ™‚

    • The pork is a favourite at home too! šŸ˜€

  • LILY! you are making me very hungry. Since I don’t live at home anymore, i haven’t had much proper chinese food! AHHHH I need to eat some thats for sure. now i have to run and figure out where i’m going to get all these yummies lolol

    • Haha! Malaysia is a food haven, and my hometown is THE foodie place in Malaysia. Just imagine.