Speedy Chinese New Year Snacks for the Time (and Pineapple Tart) Starved
It looks like we are not out of the Covid-19 woods yet, and we can’t quite let our hair down and enjoy the festivities like we used to. With social distancing regulations limiting only 8 people for Lunar New Year gatherings, this year’s celebrations will be muted and minimalist. But to some, it can be a refreshing change from the yearly toiling in the kitchens, just to cook up a multi-course feast for guests who can’t finish their food. Snacks and small bites that can be easily prepared for a low-key crowd are key to keeping the festive spirit alive, especially in these challenging times. Here is a list of easy to make snacks that can be whipped up in an hour or less.

Quick pineapple tarts

Instead of making the pineapple paste from scratch, you could get ready-made from baking supplies shops such as Phoon Huat. *Makes 40 Ingredients for pastry dough:
  • 200g of all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon of water
  • 100g of butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  1. Rub the butter into the flour. Add egg, salt and water. Mix well to create a smooth dough ball.
  2. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and leave the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. You could prepare the dough the night before and chill it overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Roll out the dough into a 1 cm-thick sheet. Use a pineapple tart cutter to cut the tart shapes out. Lay the tart shells in rows on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Reshape and roll out the excess dough. Repeat the process until you have sufficient tarts.
  4. Roll the pineapple paste into small balls and press them gently into the middle of the tart. Using an egg wash of 1 beaten egg and 1 tsp of water, glaze the tarts with the egg wash.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until slightly golden brown.
  6. Let cool before serving and store in an airtight container.

Mom’s fried dumplings

This recipe is contributed by our writer Jo-ann Huang, who swears by her mother’s cooking skills. You could use chicken instead, but in this recipe, we will use pork. *Makes 20 Ingredients:
  • 200g of minced pork or chicken
  • 50g of fresh prawn, shelled, deveined and chopped
  • 3 spears of spring onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cloves of garlic, ground
  • 1 thumb-sized knob of ginger,
  • A dash of soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
  • 20 wonton skins
  1. Mix the filling ingredients together thoroughly. With a teaspoon, scoop the meat filling into your hands and roll them into 2-inch wide balls. Place the ball into the middle of the wonton skin and fold the skin corner-to-corner, like a triangle package. Repeat until you have enough dumplings.
  2. In a medium saucepan or wok, pour sufficient vegetable oil to cover the entire dumpling. Heat the oil until bubbles form on a wooden chopstick dipped in.
  3. Fry 3 to 4 dumplings at a time, until golden brown. Let cool and serve with kecap manis (sweet dark sauce), sweet chilli sauce, or Japanese mayonnaise.
Tip: Leftover meat fillings can be stored in the refrigerator. Use the leftover oil for other fried food recipes, such as the fried ice cream recipe below!

Fried ice cream with passionfruit sauce

A chef friend made this for our contributor Jo-ann Huang. “That was 20 years ago, and I never forgot how good it was,” she says. “It was simple and humble but the results were mind-blowing,” Ingredients:
  • A tub of ice-cream in any flavour, but vanilla works best.
  • 1/2 bag of Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • Passionfruit purée, available at baking supplies shops or online grocers like Redmart. You could use chocolate sauce or whipped cream, or any of your favourite ice cream toppings if you can’t find passionfruit purée.
  1. With an ice-cream scoop, scoop the ice-cream into balls. Lay them on a baking sheet and freeze for 15 minutes.
  2. Fill the bottom of a large bowl with panko breadcrumbs. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and add the vanilla essence. Roll the ice-cream in the egg mixture, and into the panko, until it is completely covered. Return the ice-cream to the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat up a saucepan half-filled with vegetable oil. Fry the ice-cream ball for 10 to 15 seconds, or until golden brown. Be as quick as possible as you don’t want to melt the ice-cream!
  4. Serve hot with passionfruit sauce, or with your favourite ice-cream toppings.

Longan soy milk agar agar

A perfect dessert if you’re full from all the festive food. Or if you just want to cool down in these end-monsoon rising temperatures. Ingredients:
  • 10g agar agar powder
  • 1 litre of slightly sweetened soy milk
  • 1/2 cup of longan syrup
  • 60g of sugar
  • 2 to 3 pieces of pandan leaves, knotted
  • 1 can of longans, cut into halves and quarters
  • Jelly moulds in whichever size and shape you prefer
  1. In a large pot, dissolve agar agar powder in soy milk. Add the longan syrup, sugar and pandan leaves.
  2. Bring the mixture into a slight boil over low heat. Keep stirring.
  3. Take off the heat and stir in the sliced longans. Pour the mixture into moulds and let cool, before letting the agar agar solidify in the refrigerator.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.