Chinese New Year is around the corner, and it’s time to get everything prepared. TANG The Asia Food Emporium has selected a wide range of Chinese New Year seasonal food & produce, where you can shop & purchase to add flavour & festivity in marking the great new start of the Year of Monkey.
Year Cake – Higher & Better
One of the favourite Chinese New Year dishes must be “Nian Gao”, literally “Year Cake”. According to tradition, Chinese families enjoy preparing different kinds of Chinese cakes, some are savoury like Turnip Cake, while some can be a bit sweet in taste, such as Year Cake. Among all these special Chinese cakes, Year Cake is the most popular New Year treat. No matter you are from the North or the South, live near the seashore or by the river, a dish of Year Cake seems to be an inevitable custom during New Year season. So what indeed makes Year Cake so significant?
Some say the history of Year Cake can be dated back to ancient China, to the time of Spring & Autumn Period, ie around 500 BC. A famous politician of Wu Kingdom, Wu Zixu, was forced to commit suicide under the order of the King of Wu. Before his death, Wu Zixu reminded his followers to “go & dig & find food for the citizens should there come a famine”. This was like a prediction. Sooner or later, King Goujian of the Yue Kingdom invaded Wu, and there was not much food left. Facing such a big threat, Wu Zixu’s followers recalled what the great politician has once said. So they went to the designated place, dug & discovered some “food bricks” that Wu Zixu has stored. These “food bricks” were indeed kind of cakes made of special rice, and by then were turned into food that rescued thousands of lives. In commemorating the wonder deed of Wu Zixu, Chinese people started preparing steamed cake at Chinese New Year, which then became nowadays Year Cake.
Another story of Year Cake is related to good fortune. Some say Year Cake was first mentioned during the Zhou Dynasty. Ancient Chinese believed that eating Year Cake at New Year implied the blessing of great harvestry. Of course we can’t verify whether any of these speaking is true or false, yet we shouldn’t ignore the lucky meaning of the name itself. The Chinese name of Year Cake is pronounced as “Nian Gao”, which is a homophone of “Year High”, meaning “Higher & Better Every Year”. What a fortunate food that brings hope, luck & longevity to the recipients! No wonder Year Cake, aka “Nian Gao” is the most popular cuisine at this festive season of the year.
Nowadays, not just people in China will prepare glutinous rice made Year Cake at the start of a new year, Chinese all over the world will use their own recipes in steaming & preparing such wonderful New Year treat, savoury & sweet alike. What’s more, manufacturers have also brought forth pre-packed Year Cake, where customers can simply buy from the grocery shops, bring home, steam it, and conveniently savour the authentic taste of this fortunate “Nian Gao”.
Lo Hei – Prosperity & Abundance
While Year Cake is a traditional Chinese New Year cuisine, Lo Hei for sure is a modern treat. “Lo Hei” literally means to toss well, which also implies “Prosperity”. It is a dish made of raw fish, with fish carries a homophone of “Abundance”. Lo Hei is believed to be originated in South East Asia, and has been very popular in Singapore & Malaysia for a few decades. In recent years, Lo Hei has become a new trend. Even restaurants in other parts of the globe also started introducing Lo Hei into their Chinese New Year menu, where Chinese all over the world can enjoy a fortunate start of “Prosperity Toss”.
Authentic & traditional Lo Hei dish applied specific kind of raw fish. The modern twist is another popular raw fish choice – Salmon. Orange in colour, salmon adds festive tone to the dish. Indeed, Lo Hei has always maintained a close linkage to vibrant colours. Besides raw fish, its ingredients include: shredded lettuce, celery, carrot and ginger, as well as chopped peanuts, etc. All these ingredients add colour to the cuisine, enhancing joy & bringing luck. Even the steps of eating Lo Hei have its own ritual. The ingredients will be added to the pot one by one, and be well tossed with the sauce made of plum & kumquat. Whenever one adds a new ingredient to the pot, all those involved are requested to say some auspicious words. And when all ingredients are ready, all people need to use their chopsticks to stir & toss up the food, while voicing out loud the phrase “Lo Hei!” “Lo Hei!”. Literally it means “Scoop Up” but as well implying the meaning of “Prosperity Toss”. It is believed that the higher the food being tossed, the better the new year will be.
With so many different ingredients required, many families may not be able to afford time in preparing. Thanks to the manufacturers who introduced pre-packed Lo Hei, customers can simply share the fun of such “Prosperity Toss” & “Wishful Abundance”, comfortably with friends & relatives at home.
Come to TANG The Asia Food Emporium, your one-stop shop for Chinese New Year food & produce, snack & drink. Bring home your most cherished taste at this festive start of the year.