Chinese New Year 2009 – visiting relatives

I can’t believe I missed posting this! The morning after our family reunion dinner, we “kids” got together again to go visit our relatives for Chinese New Year. Of course, this involved more eating – I didn’t have breakfast that morning, as I knew we’d be eating nonstop as we visited everyone. :)

First stop – sweet treats

First, we visited our uncle (Mum’s eldest brother) and auntie. On this plate are pineapple jam tarts, yam cookies (the flower-shaped ones) and kuih bangkit (the white cookies). The pineapple jam tarts reminded me of my late grandma, as we used to help her make them when we were kids. I’m not so fond of the flavour of yam, but the kuih bangkit is always a favourite at Chinese New Year – it’s sweet and coconutty in flavour and literally melts in your mouth. When we were kids I remember eating kuih bangkit shaped like animals – I loved trying to identify all the different animals before the kuih bangkit were eaten up by everyone else.

Chinese New Year sweets

These are kuih kapit, or love letters. They are also coconutty in flavour and ever so delicate. They can be very messy to eat though, because they are so delicate and crumbly.

Love letters

My number one favourite out of all the Chinese New Year sweets is my auntie’s homemade kuih lapis, or layer cake (though, for many years now, my cousin has made the layer cake, rather than my auntie). My sister Juji and I like to peel the layers off and eat them one by one. Making layer cake is quite a labour-intensive process as you need to bake it layer by layer before pressing them all together to create that multilayered effect. I know I wouldn’t have the patience. Homemade layer cake always tastes so much better than those you can buy in a box from the Asian supermarket – I truly appreciate this once-a-year treat.

Layer cake

If you want to find out more about the Chinese New Year sweets, just try googling. There is a lot of information out there.

A few links to get you going:
All about kuih
Kuih bangkit recipe and photos (animal-shaped ones!)
Kuih lapis recipe and photos

Second stop – curry puffs

We then visited another uncle and auntie (Mum’s eldest sister). My auntie’s specialty is curry puffs. Inside the hand-rolled flaky pastry is homemade chicken curry. My cousin C fried these up fresh as soon as we arrived, and they were enticingly and finger-and-tongue-burningly hot. I could’ve polished off the whole plate. I didn’t, of course. This was the first round of curry puffs – there were a few rounds. :)

Curry puffs

My little niece Ruby loved the curry puffs too. :)

Curry puffs close-up

Third stop – lunch
Last of all, we visited Auntie S (Mum’s youngest sister) and Auntie J. They’d prepared a delicious feast for us!

It was an interesting and tasty assortment of goodies, starting with otak otak. Some were made the authentic way, wrapped in banana leaf parcels, but because my aunties didn’t have enough banana leaves to wrap all the otak otak, they used ramekins as well, lined with the banana leaves.

Otak otak

I have written about otak otak before, but for those of you who may have missed it, “otak otak” means “brains” in Malay. There are no brains in the dish though – the main ingredient is fish paste, flavoured with chilli, coconut milk, lemongrass and other delicious things.

Otak otak in ramekin close-up

I guess they call this “brains” because the steamed fish paste is sort of soft like mushed-up brains…? Something like that. :) Well, I enjoyed these “brains” very much.

Otak otak close-up

We also had potato salad, with lots of hard-boiled egg in it, which I love in a potato salad. I think I like the hard-boiled egg in potato salad even more than I love bacon or ham in it. Yes, really!

Potato salad

We also tucked into beef and vegetable kebabs. The beef was tender, with a delicious charry flavour. I love vegetables cooked on skewers.

Beef and vegetable kebabs

We enjoyed chunks of sausage, the same kind that we’d enjoyed at little Ruby’s first birthday party, served on a crisp curled lettuce leaf.


To wash it all down, there was jug of icy cold homemade lemonade.

Homemade lemonade

Tangy, yet sweet, cold and refreshing – just what you want in a glass of lemonade.

Homemade lemonade - glass

We realised as we were eating that we’d had a back-to-front meal; we’d started with sweets and ended with savoury. :)

My plate

We started the year of the ox with family and feasting but to be honest, so far, 2009 has sucked – not an elegant way to describe it, but I think “sucked/sucks” describes it perfectly. Obviously there’s stuff going on in the world – economic downturn/recession and bushfires come to mind – and there’s stuff going on for me personally that I can’t tell you about just yet (I will eventually), none of it great. How’s 2009 treating you thus far? (I hope you’ve had a better start to the year than me!)

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