I can hear you asking – what has vegemite to do with Chinese Luna New Year?
My little boy’s school is running a food festival next month. I am baking some vegemite twists for the Australian food stall.
The shape of this twist is borrowed from a Cantonese fried sweet pastry called ‘DanSan’ (蛋散). DanSan is a humble homemade pastry with flour, eggs and sugar, and deep fried in hot oil. Dan San is often made just before a Luna New Year, together with ‘YouJiao‘ (油角), a deep fried pastry with a filling of peanut, coconut and white sugar. My memory was that my second uncle always rolled out the pastry, we all helped making the DanSan & YouJiao, and my grandmother deep fried the pastry in a wok of hot oil over a coal stove. Because it was Chinese New Year, my grandmother allowed me access to the brown urn where the cooked pastries are kept under the stairs, I was in heaven!
I still remember that, during the first 10 days of a Luna New Year, families would visit their relatives to ‘BaiNian’ (拜年), or wishing them a happy new year. They would bring a bag of the pastry and some fruits as gifts. Their hosts would return the bags with their own homemade pastry and a few of the fruits. This is called ‘HuiLi’ (回礼), or the return of gifts. During these visits, children would get red envelopes from older relatives with money in them. The envelope is called LiShi (利是), meaning good luck. As a little girl I always looked forward to such visits, where I could stock up on the hard-to-get pocket money.
And once a year, the family gathered together for a rare group photo.
Here is my version of Australian ‘DanSan’ look-alike made with puff pastry & Vegemite, and I hope these little yummy treats can bring you good luck for 2016.
Recipe is as follows: