February 4, 2019

Lunar New Year puddings: 2019 collection

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I'm back home with the Parental Units for a little break over lunar new year, and that means I've brought my fair share of puddings home to mom.

Things are a little different this year, though... With sigs of African swine fever going through many provinces in China, the customs authorities in Taiwan have heightened their checks at the airports.  They've also significantly upped the fines imposed for violating the ban on meat products.  There have been news reports of people being fined TWD 200,000 when found to be carrying the contraband, and technically the fine could be as high as TWD 1 million.  The beagles at the airport have been working overtime, and there are now even big stuffed ones at each luggage carousel to remind people of the penalties.

Which means I wasn't able to bring in the normal Robert Goh radish pudding (蘿蔔糕) because it almost always contains diced up pieces of preserved sausage.  So I focused mostly on the sweet stuff this year.

Premium glutinous rice cake with coconut milk (頂級椰汁年糕), from Tin Yin Coconut Co. (天然椰子號) - this came from an old school coconut specialist in our neighborhood, which imports their own coconuts (usually Malaysian) and extracts the coconut water and milk.  I didn't get around to buying these last year but made sure to pre-order them this year, as there is a very small daily production.  Cheap and cheerful at a mere HKD 75.

We could definitely taste the coconut flavors, although they were more elegant.  The texture was also softer, especially at the bottom where moisture had been trapped when it came out of the mold while hot.

Traditional glutinous rice cake with palm sugar (傳統椰糖年糕), from Tin Yin Coconut Co. (天然椰子號) - how could I resist this when it's made with gula melaka?

Mom made the mistake of pan-frying this with the vegetarian Robert Goh, as the latter required higher heat while glutinous rice cakes reacts better to low heat.  So this came as a FAIL with way too much charring on one side.  The flavors, however, were big and delicious.  I'd definitely get this again.

Coconut glutinous rice cake (椰汁年糕), from Dashijie (大師姐) - the texture was much firmer.  A pretty hefty block at HKD 225 per box.

This was the winner.  Mom had complained over the last few years that she can no longer find a glutinous cakes which had enough coconut flavor, and I think this one finally made the grade - along with the one with gula melaka.

Premium new year water chestnut cake (桂林馬蹄糕), from Fook Lam Moon (福臨門) - this has been mom's favorite over the years, although it's now gotten a bit more expensive at HKD 350 a piece.

This still smelled wonderful as soon as we opened the package, and tasted great, too.  Mom did complain that for the higher price this year, there were actually pieces where she didn't find any bits of crunchy water chestnut...

Vegetarian radish cake with porcini (法國牛肝菌素蘿蔔糕), from Dashijie (大師姐) - after the failure last year, things were much better this time around since, unlike My Birdbrain Cousin, we actually do have proper frying pans lying around.

I read through the list of ingredients to make sure there wasn't anything offensive which could upset mom's sensitive tongue and throat.  Unfortunately, she only took one bite before feeling sharp pangs on her tongue, and her throat immediately started to close up.  She quickly gulped down a large amount of water to dilute whatever chemical had been used in the production - which may have been substances added during the processing of mushrooms.

I guess I won't be buying this one next year...

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