I want to highlight this festival because the Chinese have a very interesting food culture. I admire their approach to life when it comes to food. The Chinese, as far as I know them, are very particular about their food, fresh is their key word. Chinese can be spotted in supermarkets or in any other fresh market, selecting vegetables like beans, piece by piece, the same goes for meats and seafood. If prawns are not fully intact and do not have a firm head, they will not buy. Any irregular spot on a squash and the fellow is rejected. It makes me wonder if anybody around the table will complain if one bean is longer than the other or if one prawn is bigger than the other but it is their way of approaching food.
There are two ‘must have’ delights the Chinese cannot do without during Chinese New Year. First is ‘Bak Kwa’, finely minced pork meat is marinated, spread thinly on bamboo mats and smoked for 2 hours over charcoal. It is then sliced into squares, Bak Kwa is grilled over charcoal again, mainly on the roadside before consumption, turning whole neighborhoods into one big smoking BBQ. It tasted somewhat sweet like five spice but is loved by all. Bak Kwa is traditionally made from pork but there are also chicken, duck and beef varieties. A small round version is considered golden coins and every time one eats a piece it means money in the pocket.
Written for PMG by:
Culinary expert in recipe development